Men’s Cardigan Sweaters: Your Stylist-Approved Buying Guide

November 3, 2023

One of the unsung wardrobe heroes for men’s cold weather wardrobes is a cardigan sweater. It’s more versatile than a traditional pull-over style but doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.

If you’ve wanted to try out a cardigan but don’t know how you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got advice on what to look for, styling tips, and our top 5 recommendations for a capsule wardrobe.

What To Look For in a Cardigan Sweater for Men

A lot of guys shy away from cardigans because they think a Cardigan = grandpa sweater.

Man wearing a cardigan

Image Source: Wikimedia

See what we mean? This kind of sweater doesn’t feel relatable to most modern guys. 

Luckily, the cardigan’s gotten a rebrand in the last few years. Now, there are cool, modern ways to wear this garment.

Cassandra styled Ramit Sethi for his Netflix show in a men's cardigan

When Cassandra styled Ramit Sethi for his Netflix show, cardigans were one of her favorite ways to freshen his look.

You can wear one to the office or on the weekends and still look stylish. 

The other reason guys don’t reach for men’s cardigans more often is that they don’t know where to start. It’s easy to throw on a pullover, but a cardigan takes a little extra know-how. 

Does that sound like you? Then here’s where to start. 

Tip #1: Choose Your Colors Wisely

First, go for cardigans in core colors, especially if you’re still figuring out your style. Core colors are black, grey, navy, and white. The first three are especially great investments because these darker hues are a cinch to dress up or down.

When you’re ready to branch out into more colors, try going for a seasonal tone. Like a moody maroon or a mossy green. These add an autumnal touch to any outfit.

Tip #2: Seek Out The Right Materials

Second, let’s talk fabrication. We recommend going for wool or wool blend cardigans. Why? Because they’ll keep you warm while staying breathable, which is essential for layering.

Just be sure you’re buying your wool sweater from a high-quality seller or retailer. Remember, even some fast fashion stores sell wool products and they’re not well-made (or consciously made). 

Tip #3: Keep Your Cardigan Open

And finally, how you style your cardigan also makes a huge difference. For clients looking for an effortlessly cool look, we recommend wearing your cardigan open. That means avoiding buttoning it up or zipping it all the way. 

Wearing it open shows off what you’re wearing underneath and creates a framing effect. If you wear your cardigan when the weather starts to warm, push up the sleeves for a more live-in effect.

Stylist Approved Men’s Cardigan Sweaters (and How To Style Them)

You’ve got the basics for finding the right cardigan for you. Next, we’re sharing our stylist’s favorite cardigan sweaters for men and ideas on how to style them.

Eleventy’s Wool & Cashmere Sweater Jacket

Men's cardigan by Eleventy

Product by Eleventy, shop here.

We’re all about elevated basics and this wool and cashmere blend sweater jacket from Eleventy is exactly that. 

The lapels, ornate buttons,  and lightly structured fit make this piece feel more dressed up than your standard sweater. But it’s still more relaxed than a full-on blazer or suit jacket.

This piece is great for a business casual dress code or a men’s power casual look. 

Try it over a simple black Tee and pair it with jeans for a luncheon. Heading to an important event like a business conference? Swap out your jeans for navy chinos and add a pair of brown chukkas to seal the deal. 

Vince’s Abstract Floral Cardigan Sweater

Abstract floral cardigan by Vince for men

Product by Vince, shop here.

As much as we love solids, a successful wardrobe should also have variety. That’s why it’s important to find subtle yet interesting patterns that show off your taste.

This abstract print sweater from Vince is a prime example of how to accomplish this. Even though it has a unique print, it’s not overpowering. The muted earth-tone color palette tones down the look and keeps it put together. 

(Plus the midweight fabrication makes this a go-to for fall and mild winters.)

Lean into the earthy mood of this look with brown pants. Then, add back some brightness with a pair of white sneakers.

Joe’s Jeans Cory Shawl Collar Cardigan

Cory shawl collar cardigan by Joe's Jeans for men

Product by Joe’s Jeans, shop here.

If you liked the look of Elventy’s sweater jacket but want something cozier and more casual, try a shawl sweater. The shawl collar still gives you the same effect as lapels.

We like this marled grey option from Joe’s Jeans. Made from a superfine Merino wool blend, this men’s cardigan sweater is supremely soft. It also has all the benefits of Merino which include temperature regulation and moisture-wicking.

(Plus, the marled knit gives the sweater texture, which is a subtle alternative to prints and a great way to jazz up monochromatic ensembles.)

Wear this on a weekend retreat with black jeans and a maroon shirt for a casual (not sloppy) combination. Or, take it on your weekday commute over a lightweight mock-neck long-sleeve and trousers.

Rodd & Gunn’s West Eyreton Cardigan

Rodd & Gunn cardigan for men

Product by Rodd & Gunn, shop here.

We love layering, but we know not everyone lives in a climate with frigid temps or heavy sweater-worthy winters. However, that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the styling fun. 

If you’re on the hunt for a lightweight men’s cardigan, these next two recommendations are for you. 

First, we have this ribbed stand collar piece from Rodd & Gunn. Think of this one as your mild-weather alternative to the shawl collar cardigan or the sweater jacket from Eleventy. 

It still has that slightly structured neckline and collar, but it’s much lighter. This one is made from 50% cotton and 40% wool, meaning you get the best of both worlds. You get the soft comfort of a sweater with the breathability of a Tee. 

To wear this to a business casual or smart casual office, go with trousers, a shirt, and boots. 

Peter Millar’s Richland Full Button Cardigan

Men's cardigan by Peter Millar

Product by Peter Millar, shop here.

Rounding up our top five cardigans for men is this full-button cardigan from Peter Millar. 

(Just remember, you won’t be wearing it the way the model is above.)

We love this sweater because it’s a classic. It’s maybe the most by-the-book cardigan look with the subtle collar and brown buttons all the way to the top. 

But, it still feels modern thanks to the tailored fit and the rich indigo-blue color. You can wear it with a button-down underneath and trousers or pants for more traditional or formal dress codes.

Or, keep it contemporary with dressy grey joggers, a white Tee, and sneakers.

And just like that, you’re no longer a cardigan newbie. Bookmark this page so you have our tips on hand when you’re shopping or when you’re ready to purchase your perfect men’s cardigan sweater.

For more expert clothing advice and a personalized styling experience, apply for Next Level Wardrobe’s men’s styling services. We offer in-person and online sessions to makeover your closet, find your personal style, and simplify shopping.

About the Author - Cassandra Sethi
About the Author - Cassandra Sethi

Personal Stylist & Image Consultant

Cassandra Sethi is a Personal Stylist and Founder of Next Level Wardrobe, a luxury Personal Styling and Shopping Service that helps successful professionals of all ages and sizes. After working in the fashion industry for over 25 years, she used her expert knowledge to create a proprietary styling system called ‘The Next Level Wardrobe Style System' which guarantees clients more outfits with less items in their closet. NLW has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Tamron Hall Show, NY Mag, Huffington Post and more.

*Disclosure: Next Level Wardrobe only recommends products that we’d suggest to our clients or personally wear ourselves. All opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, Next Level Wardrobe may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

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Cassandra Sethi

is a NYC Personal Stylist and Image Consultant. She is the Founder of Next Level Wardrobe and 'The NLW Style System' that guarantees clients more outfits with less items.

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