As the sun sets earlier and cool wind whistles through the sky, you might find yourself in need of a cozy outer layer while you sip on a pumpkin spice latte and step on some crunchy, fallen leaves. Enter: Cardigans, a versatile fashion item with stylish comfort—be it in a solid rib knit, colorful stripes, a chunky mohair material, or a dainty cashmere.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Our top overall pick has to be the Gap Merino Long Cardigan because it’s made from responsibly sourced wool, comes in several neutral colors, offers a fairly good size range, and is sold at an affordable price point. For a pricier investment that you’ll be sure to wear for years, try La Ligne’s Maritime Marin Cardigan.
In the spirit of sweater weather, we set out to find the best cardigans, carefully considering all the different styles, the coziest fabrics, and the ways we can wear them (according to our expert Courtney Busch, a stylist at Stitch Fix) to narrow down our selections.
Meet the Expert
Courtney Busch is a stylist at Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service.
Keep reading to discover the best cardigans on the market.
Gap Merino Long Cardigan
This best overall pick, the Merino Long Cardigan from Gap is made with responsibly sourced wool (that’s what RSW stands for) and comes in a collection of staple colors, including black, gray, navy, tan, and green. It has that classic cardigan style with its low V-neckline and button front while still feeling modern, due to its lightweight yet warm fabrication. It’s also a great layering piece, so you can wear the cardigan over tank tops and under your favorite fall jackets for a cozy look.
Materials: RSW wool | Size Range: XXS-2XL
Price at time of publish: $59
Forever 21 Cropped Cardigan Sweater
For a budget-friendly cardigan, we love the Forever 21 Cropped Cardigan Sweater. The shrunken silhouette feels reminiscent of some of the ’90s and early aughts trends, and the micro eyelet detailing gives it a fun feminine feel. Great for warmer days when you need just a little bit of coverage, this budget-friendly pick is bound to get a ton of wear.
Materials: Rayon and polyester | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $23
Rails Lindi Cardigan
When investing in a designer cardigan, go for a timeless style, like this Lindi Cardigan from Rails, which has a relaxed fit that you’re sure to love for years to come. Wear it as a buttoned-up top or open with a tank, tee, or frilly blouse for a more dressed-up feel.
Materials: Wool and cashmere | Size Range: XXS-XL
Price at time of publish: $268
Zara Knit Cardigan With Golden Buttons
Fitted sweaters and cardigans are one of the biggest fall trends this season. To get the look, try this fitted gold-button cardigan from Zara. It’s available in a timeless navy blue and a soft pink color and features a high scoop neck that buttons all the way up, so you can wear it not only as a cardigan but as a top, too. For a Versace-esque look, wear it with the matching skirt.
Materials: Nylon and viscose | Size Range: S-XL
Price at time of publish: $50
Best Puff Sleeve
Alice + Olivia Morita Floral Puff Sleeve Cardigan
When it comes to puff sleeves, you might as well have fun with them. This Alice + Olivia cardi has a whimsical Regency vibe that’s not at all subtle. Everything from the fit to the floral detail to the breathable cotton material is cheery perfection.
Materials: Cotton | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $198
Alex Mill Nico Chunky Cardigan in Stripe
You can’t go wrong with a classic Breton cardigan. With buttons all the way from the waist to the snug crew neckline, the nautical Alex Mill sweater has so many styling options. Wear it buttoned up with a white collared shirt popping through it or open with any basic top, from a fitted long-sleeve T-shirt to a simple bralette in transitional weather.
Materials: Cotton | Size Range: XS-2XL
Price at time of publish: $135
VETTA The V-Neck Oversized Sweater
There’s something so cozy about an oversized sweater, and cardigans are no different. The V-Neck Oversized Sweater from VETTA stays true to that timeless cardigan style while adding enough extra material to give it some slouch for a relaxed look and feel. Best of all, however, it can be worn in several ways to get the most wear from it. You can sport it buttoned in the front or in the back (the latter of which creates a super chic high-neck look) or open it up and pair it with your favorite basic tank or T-shirt.
Materials: Organic cotton and elastane | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $168
Reformation Fantino Cashmere Collared Cardigan
Reformation adds a collared twist on the slouchy cardigan with this ribbed, all-cashmere style. The sweater is also made with recycled cashmere (using the label’s new 90/10 ratio), making it a more sustainable choice, too.
Materials: Cashmere | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $248
The Great The Varsity Cardigan
Look collegiate in this varsity-inspired cardigan. It has a vintage-inspired slouchy shape and is surprisingly cozy, too. Wear it with a pair of jeans and loafers or a skort and ankle booties for an even more preppy look.
Materials: Wool and nylon | Size Range: XS-L
Price at time of publish: $350
Saint ZEN Knit Cardigan
Chunky cardigan sweaters are what we live for, especially during the colder months of the year. This modern cable knit-style sweater is our top pick because, in addition to its hulking texture, the cardigan is a total show-stopper with colorful buttons, patchwork, and decorative embroidery.
Materials: Acrylic and polyester | Size Range: One size
Price at time of publish: $95
Almina Concept Mohair Cardigan
For a classic brushed cardigan look, try this mohair option from Almina. The fitted cropped sweater is a good transitional piece that can be worn on its own or with layers as the weather gets cooler. We love it buttoned up with a pair of light-wash mom jeans and sneakers but would also wear it with a black leather skirt, hosiery, and boots for the ultimate winter look.
Materials: Mohair, wool, nylon, and spandex | Size Range: S-L
Price at time of publish: $148
Best Bell Sleeves
Rationalle Clara Knit Cardi
We love it when a cardigan’s sleeves do something interesting. Case in point: The bell sleeves on this Clara Knit Cardi from Rationalle. Though, we also love the tie closures, which are an alternative take on classic cardigan detailing.
Materials: Cotton | Size Range: XS-L
Price at time of publish: $125
La Ligne Maritime Marin Cardigan
La Ligne has a specialty in stripes. This particular take on the brand’s classic Marin style features nautical, blue and white stripes. It’s also a heavyweight sweater, being that it’s made from 70 percent wool and 30 percent cashmere, and the relaxed fit makes it ideal for casual dress.
Materials: Wool and cashmere | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $395
Best Short Sleeves
YanYan Rosie Short Sleeve Pointelle Wool Cardigan
If you want a cardigan for warmer weather, a short sleeve style is a way to go. This iteration by YanYan is made from wool with eyelet-inspired details and intricate floral embroidery sprinkled throughout. Dress it down with green cargo pants or play up the femme details with a denim miniskirt and platform sandals.
Materials: Wool | Size Range: XS-L
Price at time of publish: $395
FARM Rio Mixed Snake Mushroom Cardigan
We can always count on Farm Rio to make the most incredible prints. This relaxed cardigan features a funky print that can work well as a buttoned-up sweater or open with a tank top and your favorite pair of jeans.
Materials: Acrylic, polyamide, and wool | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $170
Cuyana Single-Origin Cashmere Cardigan
Get on the coastal grandma train with this Cuyana cashmere sweater. The lightweight style has such a classic design, from the small buttons to the wide scoop neck, ribbed detailing, and monochrome look. In addition to all of this, we picked it because it can also be worn in a variety of ways, including open with a simple white tank top à la Diane Keaton or closed with the buttons in the front or the back for a convertible boatneck sweater look.
Materials: Cashmere | Size Range: XS-XL
Price at time of publish: $248
Best Balloon Sleeves
Oak + Fort Varsity Cardigan
With its unconventional mix of styles—namely, the balloon sleeve shape and wrap closure—we adore this Oak + Fort sweater. It’s the perfect alternative when you’re feeling fatigued from pullover knit sweaters. Though, you can also wear it open for a slouchier look.
Materials: Cotton and acrylic | Size Range: XXS-L
Price at time of publish: $68
Best Open Front
Barefoot Dreams CozyChic Lite® Circle Cardigan
If you ever wished you could leave the house wrapped in a soft blanket, this style might be for you. It’s as luxe-feeling as the brand’s cult-favorite blanket and ideal for throwing on over loungewear or keeping you warm in chilly office air conditioning.
Materials: Nylon and rayon | Size Range: XS/S-L/XL
Price at time of publish: $116
Madewell (Re)sourced Fleece Crop Cardigan
Fleece lovers can rejoice in this pick by Madewell, which is a cross between a sweater and a jacket. Wear it on its own, over a T-shirt as a lightweight jacket or under an oversized denim vest for a layered look.
Materials: Recycled polyester | Size Range: XXS-2XL
Price at time of publish: $148
& Other Stories Wrap Cardigan
This & Other Stories Wrap Cardigan has the perfect ballet-inspired shape with its wrap-style bodice and subtle balloon sleeves. It’s made from a warm wool blend material and available in a range of colors—like bubbly lilac and red, in addition to a palette of neutral and earthy tones. Wear it with trousers for a business-casual look or with leggings and chunky sneakers for an athleisure vibe.
Materials: Polyester, acrylic, wool, and spandex | Size Range: XS-L
Price at time of publish: $69
L.L. Bean All-Day Waffle Sweater Hooded Wrap Cardigan
Much like the popular button-down style, belted cardigans can certainly come in handy. This piece from L.L. Bean is our top pick, because of its cozy nature, thanks to design elements like the waffle texture, hood, and slouchy, jacket-like fit. On top of that, it’s pretty size-inclusive, with regular, petite, and plus sizing available.
Materials: Cotton, polyester, acrylic, and spandex | Size Range: XS-XL (regular and petite), 1X-3X (plus)
Price at time of publish: $99
Wide Sleeve Cardigan Wide Sleeve Cardigan
A favorite brand among celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Dakota Johnson, Mandkhai makes a cashmere cardigan that’s indeed a must-have. The wide-sleeve style is made entirely from Mongolian cashmere and has a boxy, slightly oversized fit that makes for the perfect day-off look.
Materials: Mongolian cashmere | Size Range: S/M-M/L
Price at time of publish: $485
ABLE Neva Long Cardigan
Fall for this long cardigan from ABLE. The lightweight duster cardigan has a relaxed, drop-shoulder look that was made for the casual jeans and a T-shirt aesthetic.
Materials: Cotton | Size Range: XXS-3XL
Price at time of publish: $88
What to Look for in Cardigans
“Depending on the cut of the cardigan, you want to make sure that the fit compliments your body type—i.e. not falling off narrow shoulders, hitting properly above or below the waist, and no gaping at the buttons for women with bustier chests,” says Courtney Busch, a stylist at Stitch Fix.
In addition to how a cardigan fits, Busch says length is also important, as that can determine how you will style it. Cardigans come in a variety of lengths, including cropped and duster styles that reach all the way down to your ankles.
Cardigan fabric ranges from thin and lightweight (usually cotton) to chunky and ultra-warm. Wool and cashmere will keep you the warmest in the winter, though the latter is more breathable and works in transitional months, too.
What are cardigans?
“Cardigans are knitted sweaters with an opening in the front, and they’re a year-round must-have,” says Busche. “The beauty of a cardigan is in its versatility, providing you with the perfect layering piece no matter the season.”
Are cardigans business casual?
Cardigans are a great workwear staple, as you can layer them over all kinds of other basics (e.g., dresses, shirts, and tank tops) all year long. “Cardigans are also a ‘business comfort’ staple in the summer when air conditioning is kept very cool and you need an extra layer over a short sleeve top or dress in the office.”
Why Trust Byrdie
Contributing writer Jessie Quinn has a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism from Academy of Art University. At Byrdie, Jessie covers everything from unique jewelry accessories to the latest denim trends to the best shoes for any style. When researching the best cardigans, Jessie considered key factors such as fit, fabric, as well as different styles. She scrutinized construction and quality, too. And, after researching dozens of options, Jessie funneled her findings into a categorized list of best cardigans of the season.