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5 Reasons to Reconsider the Cardigan Sweater (and the Best Ones to Buy Now)

This button-up knit is back, and we're here to tell you why you need a cardigan sweater in your wardrobe ASAP.

While we're well aware of the cardigan sweater's old-fashioned reputation—the image of a lumpy pastel number styled with a floral midi skirt and nude pantyhose comes to mind—the classic layering piece is making its way to the front of the closet again. This is due not only to fashion influencers and designers like Balenciaga, Prada and Gucci giving this preppy sweater new life by pairing it with silk skirts, vintage Levi's and carefree fashions, but also its general usefulness in many a season and situation. Keep scrolling for the top 5 reasons we think a cardigan sweater is a wardrobe essential and the best ones we think are worth the investment.

1. A cardigan sweater is the perfect transitional piece

Between spring and summer, and summer and fall, dressing becomes a bit more complicated. Can I still wear that minidress? Is it too cold for my Reformation skirt? We all know Mother Nature is a fickle woman, which is why a versatile layering piece such as a cozy knit cardigan is a year-long necessity. We love a cropped cardigan with almost any warm-weather bottom, whether its a skirt, jeans or over a summer dress, so we can continue wearing our favorite pieces into the next season.

& Other Stories brown cropped, button-up cardigan sweater

Try It! & Other Stories Wool Blend Cardigan, $99

2. Cardigan sweaters are also handy to have at the office

I have yet to work in an office that doesn't get unusually cold, so keeping a thick cardigan at your desk is a must-have for any boss lady. Trust me—you'll be thankful for the extra layer when the AC kicks on mid-winter. It's also a fail-safe way to make sure your outfit is always office appropriate. I keep a knee-length ribbed-knit draped over my chair to throw on when I get chilly (which is essentially a chic way of wearing a blanket in public).

Uniqlo oversized wool rib-knit cardigan sweater

Try It! Uniqlo Women Wool Ribbed Knitted Coat, $40

3. And on planes

There is truly nothing more uncomfortable than being stuck in a tiny plane seat—middle, especially—wearing too thick of a sweater or no sleeves at all with the air vent blowing on you until landing. With a cozy duster, you can keep comfy strolling through each terminal with jeans and a tee or your go-to travel leggings. We're particularly fond of this ultra-soft wool cardi that will make any flight more enjoyable with a pop of emerald green.

Pro tip: You can use your super-long cardigan to cover your legs or even as a pillow en-route.

Lover + Friends wool blend duster cardigan sweater in emerald green

Try It! Lovers + Friends Relaxin Sweater, $198 $119

4. Cardigan sweaters are a travel essential

No matter the destination, it's always best to be over- rather than underprepared. We're already schooled on the best travel beauty tips from flying proshow to look jet-set on a budget and where to find the most stylish weekenders, but here's another travel tip to take note of: Always pack a cardigan. Tulum or Iceland—you never know what the weather has in store upon arrival, and a trusty open knit will have your back in any situation. With our minds in tropical time, we're packing a crochet layer to throw on poolside or at a sunset dinner.

Free People crochet yellow multicolor cardigan sweater

Try It! Free People Winding Road Cardi, $168

5. You can try out the latest trends with a cardigan sweater

Electric neons, puffy sleeves or western-inspired, the right cardigan allows you to play with your favorite runway trends without leaving your comfort zone; i.e., your favorite denim and a fitted white tee. We've seen fuschia cable-knit cardis tucked into high-waist Levi's, oversize open knits belted over mini skirts and statement sweaters take center stage with crazy texture. Whatever your vice, let the cardigan do the talking without going out of your way to spice up your style.

ASTR The Label looped fringe cardigan sweater in cream

Try It! ASTR The Label Darby Cardigan Sweater, $158

Shop more of our favorite cardigans:

Topshop neon cropped button cardigan sweater

Try It! Topshop Horn Button Crop Cardigan, $48 $28

Lovers + Friends leopard print duster cardigan sweater

Try It! Lovers + Friends Speak Up Duster, $208

Forever 21 black eyelash cardigan sweater

Try It! Forever 21 Feathered Button-Front Cardigan, $25

VICI knit bobble cardigan sweater

Try It! VICI Tender Loving Care Knit Cardigan, $78


Tularose cream duster cardigan sweater with fringe

Try It! Tularose Rain Duster, $178

Taylor Borde

Taylor is an Editor at and an alumna of Iowa State University. Aside from her sartorial love, she considers herself a documentary enthusiast and Frenchie aficionado. She is also shamelessly addicted to predictable rom coms and anything by Drake.

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5 Reasons to Reconsider the Cardigan Sweater (and the Best Ones to Buy Now)