From chunky shawl neck cardigans to the lighter v-neck variety, you’re going to love these cardigan outfit ideas.
If you’d prefer to watch a video instead of read, here ya go!
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: As a Middle Layer
These lightweight cardigans are perfect middle layers because they fit easily under any sort of outerwear.
Here, the outer layer is a chore jacket, which is also on the lighter side, but you could totally wear a heavier jacket too (like a field jacket).
#3: With a Polo Shirt
Many guys shy away from this combo because it seems like a mismatch. Cardigans are for fall/winter, and polos are spring/summer, right?
The truth is, a v-neck cardigan over a polo shirt is a really underrated layering combo that’s surprisingly easy to wear.
It’s perfect for cool spring and late summer nights.
#4: With Shorts
You can definitely wear a lightweight cardigan with shorts during spring and summer, or whenever a full on jacket is overkill.
I actually love this hot weather “layering” technique for cool summer evenings. It works equally well with
#4: 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.
#5: 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.
#6: Over a Dress Shirt (With Slacks)
Here’s a classic business casual look that’s perfect for fall and winter.
Sure, you can wear 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…
Bonus points if you wear a zip cardigan instead of your standard front button!
#7: With a Casual Button Up
Cardigans look great with tucked in shirts, but they also work with more casual (untucked) button ups.
Make sure to leave the top and bottom buttons unfastened for better drape and a more laid back look.
#9: Under a Sport Coat
Speaking of promotions, got a big meeting? Just throw on a classic navy blazer or tweed sport coat over the cardigan, and you’re good to go.
This look works especially well with textured materials like tweed and flannel.
#10: 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 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 lburgundy 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!
#5: With Wool Trousers
Given the thick, chunky nature of shawl neck cardigans, it stands to reason that they’ll look good with equally substantial pants.
This getup is perfect for someone who works in a business casual office and lives somewhere that gets really cold.
#6: With Casual Jeans
Shawl neck cardigans look great with both dressy and casual outfits.
Light wash jeans are inherently casual, and they look right at home with this rich green cardigan and suede boots.
#7: As Loungewear
In this comfy “lazy Sunday” look, the longline cardigan almost takes the place of a bath robe.
The longline cardigan looks amazing with mid or high rise pants, especially when the shirt is tucked in.
#8: With Chinos
I’m telling you, shawl neck cardigans are the Swiss Army knives of sweaters. They work with any type of pants, including chinos.
Notice how the top and bottom buttons are left unfastened? This creates a more laid back look an helps the cardigan drape more naturally over your hips.
#9: With a Tie
Cardigans can act as casual alternatives to sport coats or blazers.
This outfit is perfect for business casual, or even more formal offices, during fall and winter.
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
- Affordable – ASOS
- Value – Uniqlo
- Splurge – Brooks Brothers
- Splurge – Ralph Lauren
Chunk Shawl Neck Cardigans
- Affordable – H&M
- Value – J. Crew Factory
- Splurge – Bonobos
- Splurge – Ralph Lauren
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.
Not a cardigan guy? I get it. This type of sweater has a certain vibe that’s not for everyone.
If your style leans less preppy and more street, I recommend trying on a Noragi jacket, which is sort of like a kimono shirt.
These Japanese workwear inspired “jackets” typically wear like lightweight cardigans, although that can depend on the fabric.
They usually have some sort of drawstring fastener, so you can wear them open or closed, like a cardigan.
You can wear them over a shirt and under outerwear, or they can serve as lightweight outerwear during warmer seasons.
Questions About Cardigans
Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about men’s cardigans:
Are cardigans in style for men right now?
The color and fit of cardigans may change according to what’s currently trendy, but the cardigan sweater, in general, will always be in style.
Should guys wear cardigans?
Definitely! No matter how traditionally masculine or feminine you feel, the cardigan is a solid wardrobe essential.
And if you think cardigans are just for women, remember that men like Daniel Craig (James Bond), Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Ryan Reynolds, Paul Newman and Pharrell, have all been spotted wearing cardigans.
Are men’s cardigans cool?
Is Don Draper cool? What about Kurt Cobain and Jay-Z? How about David Beckham and, oh let’s see…Mr. Rogers??
Yes, men’s cardigans are cool.
What do you wear under cardigans?
You can wear almost any type of shirts under a cardigan, including t-shirts, Oxford shirts, button downs, henleys and polos.
Avoid wearing thick sweaters or flannel shirts under a cardigan.
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!
Do cardigan sweaters fits like a sport coat or blazers?
Brock McGoff says
Not really because they’re totally unstructured. Jackets have more padding and structure to them. A totally unstructured jacket is more similar to a cardigan, but it’s still not the same.
I’d like to know what that sort of faded green cardigan is in the pic under #2 of how to wear a chunky shawl neck cardigan.
Peter Cook says
I just wanted to say that this is the first time that I’ve Googled, “How to wear [X] item” and been completely satisfied with an article. Thank you!!
That’s great to hear, thanks for letting us know!
Scott B. says
I’ve just purchased a cocoa colored chunky shawl-collar sweater (here it is: https://www.llbean.com/llb/shop/121162). Would you recommend an off-white Henley underneath it, or some other piece underneath the sweater?
A Henley in white/cream would look good, or a button down shirt (white, light blue, tan, any shade of denim).
Scott B. says
Thanks, Brock. I hadn’t thought about a denim collared shirt as an option, but I think it will look nice too. I must have snagged the last cocoa sweater–it is now gone as an option!
Mario Benavides says
How would you wear a long line cardigan? Can you put a jacket over it?