Wondering how to wear a cardigan? You’re in the right place. From chunky shawl neck cardigans to the lighter v-neck variety, you’re going to love these cardigan outfit ideas.
Some guys avoid cardigans because they’re afraid of looking like Mr. Rogers, which is weird because he was a super cool guy.
But I get it. It’s easy to stray into #grandpastyle territory when wearing this kind of sweater, but here’s the thing:
The cardigan is actually a timeless garment that can be as masculine or feminine as you want it to be.
It can be worn as an outer or middle layer in both casual and formal situations.
Some cardigans are great for lazy Sundays, while others work perfectly in business casual offices.
Regardless of which type of cardigan you have (e.g., shawl collar or v-neck), it's the weight and thickness that really determines how you can wear it.
You can divide all cardigans into two main categories: lightweight and heavyweight (a.k.a., chunky).
The former can be dressed up and even worn with a suit and tie, while the latter are usually reserved for more casual looks.
So without further adieu, let’s look at a few cardigan outfits for guys, featuring both lightweight and chunky options.
How to Wear a Lightweight V-Neck Cardigan
Typically made from extrafine Merino wool or Supima cotton, this is your standard lightweight front button v-neck cardigan. When most people picture a cardigan, they picture this type.
Its weight and structure makes it more elegant and dressy than chunky shawl neck cardigans, so it’s better for smart casual and business casual outfits.
That doesn’t mean you can’t wear it casually, of course! We’ll look at a few different outfit ideas featuring the lightweight v-neck cardigan.
#1: Over a T-Shirt
This is a comfy outfit for those days when you just need a little more warmth than your t-shirt can provide.
In this outfit, your cardigan is almost like a very lightweight jacket. You can button it up or just leave it undone for a laid back, drapey* and flowy* look.
*Definitely not real words
#2: Over a Long Sleeve Henley
You can swap the t-shirt for a long sleeve henley. It’s just as casual and timeless as a crew neck tee, but it has a bit more character and visual interest.
This outfit is sure to make you feel like Ryan Gosling, strutting down Hollywood Boulevard on his way to do…something really cool and effortless.
#3: Over an Oxford Shirt (With Jeans)
Taking things up one notch in terms of formality, you can wear a v-neck cardigan over an Oxford Cotton Button Down (OCBD).
This type of casual button down looks especially great with jeans and chinos.
For shoes, you have plenty of options. Sneakers, loafers or boots will all look good.
#4: Under a Casual Jacket
The great thing about these lightweight cardigans is the fact that they're so thin – perfect for layering over a shirt and under a jacket.
You could definitely go with something dressier, like a tweed sportcoat or sleek leather jacket, but the ruggedness of the field jacket provides a nice contrast against the v-neck cardigan.
#5: Over a Dress Shirt (With Slacks)
Here’s a classic business casual look that’s perfect for fall and winter.
Sure, you can a v-neck sweater over your dress shirt, but a cardigan will set you apart from the pack at work.
I’m not saying a promotion is guaranteed, but I’m not not saying it either…
#6: Under a Blazer
Speaking of promotions, got a big meeting? Just throw on a classic navy blazer over the cardigan, and you’re good to go.
The great thing about a neutral colored cardigan is that it goes with pretty much any shirt/pants/jacket combo.
And of course, a navy blazer works well all year around.
#7: With a Suit and Tie
You can take things one step further by wearing your cardigan with a suit and tie. It’s kind of like a three piece suit, but the cardigan takes the place of the waistcoat.
This is a dapper look that’s especially perfect for fall and winter, as it provides a bit of added warmth.
The great thing is, you can take your jacket off at any time throughout the day, and you’ll still look sharp.
How to Wear a Chunky Shawl Neck Cardigan
Of course, we can’t forget about the other most popular type of cardigan for guys – the chunky shawl neck cardigan.
These are typically much heavier, thicker and more textured than lightweight cardigans.
This extra heft, plus the shawl neck design, produces a more casual, rugged aesthetic – perfect for casual and smart casual looks.
#1: Over a V-Neck T-Shirt
Just like the lightweight cardigan, the chunky shawl neck version looks great over a t-shirt. You can wear it over a crew neck or v-neck – it’s totally up to personal preference.
When in doubt, make sure the cardigan is darker than the t-shirt. For example, a dark grey cardigan over a light grey t-shirt will look good on anyone.
#2: Over a Henley Shirt
This type of cardigan works perfectly over a henley shirt (maybe even better than the lightweight variety).
Both garments are rugged and somewhat masculine, so they go together like Maverick and Goose.
Again, you can’t go wrong if you wear a darker color on the outside (i.e., darker cardigan over lighter henley).
#3: Over a Casual Button Up
The shawl neck cardigan isn’t as easy to dress up as its refined lightweight cousin, but it can be worn over a button up shirt.
I think it looks best over a somewhat casual shirt, like an Oxford or flannel button down. Feel free to wear it tucked in or untucked.
Jeans or chinos and boots work well with this combo.
#4: As a Jacket
Cardigans work so well as middle layers, but you can also wear them as outer layers – even with more dressy looks.
The chunky shawl neck cardigan is a rugged garment, but it looks so cool worn in place of a suit jacket over the waistcoat of this three piece suit.
This look isn't for everyone, as it takes some confidence to pull off (Sabir has plenty), but if you're trying to get out of your comfort zone, give it a shot!
Where to Buy Cardigans
When it comes to buying cardigans, you have many, many choices. Here are some of our top picks for any budget.
Lightweight V-Neck Cardigans
Chunk Shawl Neck Cardigans
Focus on fit first. Make sure the cardigan fits well in the chest and sleeves (make sure the sleeves aren’t too long).
If you’re buying your first cardigan sweater, don’t spend too much money. You’re not sure if you’ll like wearing it, so go with an affordable option before committing to something high end.
How do you wear cardigans?
I hope these cardigan outfit ideas give you some ideas for how to wear this timeless sweater as the weather starts to cool down.
And if you don’t own a cardigan, maybe this is the year to pick one up and try it out!