With spring officially here, it’s time to break out the cardigans.  Seriously, who doesn’t love having these trusted staples on hand to cover up the arms or add a bit of warmth on cool spring days?

Yet, while they are useful, they can often look like afterthoughts because we utilize them in such utilitarian ways.  Just about every woman has one hanging off the back of her office chair for when temperatures hit below freezing at work in the summer, most of us casually grab a cardigan ‘just in case’ it gets chilly and it’s all too often that we just don’t have the right cardigans on hand to make our outfits look complete so we just grab one that will do.  Below, I have put together five cardigan looks where they look like part of the outfits instead of being afterthoughts.  Take a look at them to get some ideas for yourself.

How to Make Cardigans Look Less Like Afterthoughts

Outfit #1


In this first look, I layered this ivory cardigan from J. Crew over this basic black sheath dress from Theory.  With the belt from White House|Black Market, the idea was to add the belt over the cardigan, not under it.  Of course, under the cardigan can work too.  However, by belting the cardigan, the outfit looks more cohesive.  Next, make sure you have cardigans in neutral colors that are more versatile and can work with most of what is in your wardrobe.  Lastly, I thought of this look on a whole  and accessorized accordingly using these strappy heels from BCBG, a beige purse from Cole Haan and statement earrings from Julie Vos.

Avoid being caught off guard.  If you buy anything sleeveless and know you won’t leave the house without some sort of topper piece, be sure you either own or purchase a cardigan that you can wear to cover up.

Outfit #2


Next, work tonally and have cardigans on hand that will coordinate with your wardrobe.  You don’t have to stick with cardigans in neutral shades, but before you purchase colorful styles, look to see what the dominant colors are in your wardrobe.  Here, for example, I added this cropped cardigan in soft blue from LOFT to this chic summer jumpsuit.  Again, thinking of the outfit on the whole, so the cardigan doesn’t come out of left filed, I accessorized accordingly with strappy blue heeled sandals from MICHAEL Michael Kors, a novelty statement necklace from Bauble Bar, bangles from Banana Republic, and a white clutch from Sondra Roberts.  The cardigan looks like part of the outfit, not like an afterthought.

Outfit #3


You decided to step out with cardigans that are more interesting and you chose a longer style, like this one, because you have been seeing them everywhere in the stores.  Well good for you for taking chances, but did you think about the rest of the outfit?  What are you going to wear with it?  A cardigan like this typically needs to be paired with slimmer pieces so you don’t look like you are standing in a hole.

Another tip about cardigans so they don’t look like afterthoughts, when pairing them with print, look at the colors found in the print and use one of those colors as your cardigan shade.  This will help the outfit look more cohesive.  I did this above with these printed pants from Reiss and I finished the look with a relaxed silk tank, red flats from Shoes of Prey, red tassel lariat necklace from Stella & Dot and grey bag from MICHAEL Michael Kors.

Outfit #4


Next, choose cardigans that match the feel of the look you are creating.  In the look above, the kimono style cardigan has the same relaxed weekend appearance of the rest of the outfit consisting of a pair of Lucky Brand crop pants, a casual button down in indigo from Madwell, and accessorized with a printed scarf, beaded drop earrings, cognac peep toe ankle booties and bag from Modcloth.

Outfit #5


This cardigan from MM LaFleur not only covers up the arms and adds warmth but it adds some style to this outfit.  The grey works tonally with the grey found in the stripe of the BOSS Hugo Boss dress and it matches the modern style of this dress, while adding some interesting detail to the overall look.  The outfit is finished with a pair of black ankle strap heels from Louise et Cie, stud earrings, and popped with a red bag from Coach.

Think ahead with your cardigans and be sure to have styles that work with your style, the colors of your wardrobe and the pieces if your closet.