The Perfect Boyfriend: The Art of Styling a Long Cardigan

The long boyfriend cardigan is a wardrobe staple that has been enjoying a bit of a heyday of late. Need some styling help? Look no further than the following tips.

There is certainly nothing new about a cardigan. A cardigan is quite literally one of the DNA building blocks of any well-appointed wardrobe, and most followers of fashion will have several styles and fabrications in her wardrobe.

But for all the versatility of the humble long boyfriend cardigan, it can also become a bit of a stumbling block when it comes to styling. The generous proportions and slouchy appeal that make this piece so popular can also unintentionally give off a rather, shall we say, unpolished look.  But fashionistas should put their minds at rest; the following styling tips are not only an easy reference guide – they also happen to look good on a multitude of different body types.

#1 Fabric Matters, So Choose Wisely

Before we get into the nitty gritty of styling, it is imperative to take a minute to talk about fabric quality. While it may be tempting to go in for that ultra-discounted knockoff version of the cashmere boyfriend cardigan you have been coveting, knitwear is generally an area where you will want to stick to natural fabrications and blends.

Acrylics tend to pull while knitwear with too much nylon or viscose often puckers and fades after just one wash. Natural fabrics, while sometimes more maintenance-intensive, tend to hold shape and colour better and look better with age. Modern technology has also afforded us high-tech blends that not only breathe, but also hold their shape better than in days gone by. Look for wool blends (at least 40-50% wool), cotton, silk, and modal blends for best results.

#2 The Obvious Choice: Worn With Jeans


Yes, it is indeed an obvious choice, albeit one that stands the test of time. Worn with a pair of skinny jeans and a fitted tank underneath, the oversized and slouchy qualities of the long boyfriend cardigan are mitigated by the more body-conscious under-layer. This effect can be as casual or as dressed as you like it to be; the secret is in the footwear. A pair of colourful sneakers and a cross-body bag for day give you street cred, while a pair of killer stilettos and long pair of chandelier earrings will add a feminine touch that will take you right through to your evening dinner date.

#3 The Long Over Short Effect


The lyrics to the ‘90s hit by Cake that recalled wanting a girl with a short skirt and a long jacket was not only a catchy tune, but also very good advice indeed. Pairing a long boyfriend cardigan over a short skirt or fitted minidress that is just a hint longer than the cardigan is an excellent way to dress-down a body-con silhouette for day and add just the right amount of slouch.

Much like with a form-fitting pair of skinny jeans and tank, a loosely-fitted long cardigan provides not only protection from the cold, it creates depth to a look with layering. A dress that felt just a little too downtown for a trip to the mall suddenly feels right for day. Pair this look with flats to keep it from looking too over-styled.

#4 Oh Waist-Defining Belt, How I Love Thee


There is no greater friend to a deconstructed, borrowed-from-the-boys look than a waist-defining belt. Wear your boyfriend cardigan slightly open and belted at the waist. Not only does this create a layered effect that adds depth and interest to your look, the cinched waist hints the lines of your body underneath, lending an air of femininity to the menswear-inspired piece. Pair this with a pair of printed skinny ankle pants, an A-line mini, or even a pair of sharply tailored trousers for optimum effect.

Perhaps the most important item to remember when you are borrowing from the boys and employing the use of a long boyfriend cardigan into your look is to play the masculine shapes of the cardigan against something softer and more feminine to create balance. Whether this means layering your cardigan over an über-feminine lace dress or simply selecting a cardigan in a soft pastel shade or a luxurious angora or cashmere fabrication, it is that balance of the masculine and the feminine that gives the long cardigan its streetwise yet sophisticated appeal.

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About the author

Kristin Buchholz-MacKillop

Kristin is an American writer based in the Scottish Highlands. She is a saxophonist, an obsessive tennis player, a U.S. Air Force Veteran, and holds a Master's degree as an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner. She is the author of the online style blog

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