Rightfully so, cardigans have become a must-have in any wardrobe. Not only are they timeless and universally flattering, but they’re also ultra-versatile—especially as you get older.
“For women over 60, comfort takes center stage, and cardigans deliver this in abundance,” says Leanne Lee, fashion stylist and buyer at Blue Bungalow. “A carefully chosen cardigan becomes the linchpin of an ensemble, effortlessly transitioning from a casual daytime look to an evening of sophistication.”
Brigid Stasen, stylist and founder of Bridge Your Style, notes that cardigans are also seasonless. “On cool spring and summer evenings or while in an air-conditioned environment, a cardigan is a plus to throw on with a t-shirt and jeans, a dress, a skirt, or slacks,” she tells Best Life. “You can layer a cardigan with just about anything.”
So, looking for new ways to get some wear out of those cardigans over the age of 60? Here’s some expert-approved guidance.
1. Use them as a pop of color.
According to Stasen, a cardigan is one super easy way to add a splash of color to an otherwise basic ensemble. For example, if you’re wearing a navy blue sundress, throw on a ballet pink cardigan. Or, try a vibrant green or red cardigan if you’re wearing all black. Adding that one bright layering piece can liven up your whole look when you’re wearing neutrals underneath.
2. Go long.
According to Lee, cardigans that hit right at your thigh, knee, or lower have the advantage of visually elongating your body.
Try layering one over leggings with a large wrap scarf in a fun print for a casual chic combo, says Stasen. A long cardigan can also add some visual interest when you’re wearing a simple outfit, like a white T-shirt and jeans.
Or, you could pop a long cardigan over a dress of the same length and color for an elegant monochromatic take. “For example, pair a beige cardigan with a similar-toned blouse and pants. This creates an uninterrupted visual line, making you look taller. The key is to vary the shades slightly for depth and dimension,” explains Stefaniya Veresovaya, a stylist and founder of HEYMIMISISTERS.
3. Try the high-low method.
One trick lots of stylists like to use is mixing super dressy items with super casual ones for a fresh, unexpected look. For example, Stasen loves wearing cardigans with jeans and statement jewelry. This combo can work for lunch with the ladies, date night, or even at the office on casual Fridays.
Or, you could try layering a cardigan over a little black dress and polishing off the look with a sleek pair of sneakers to give the outfit some youthful, modern flair.
4. Reach for a button-down.
“Layering is a fantastic way to add depth and visual interest to your outfits,” says Lee. Therefore, she recommends wearing a cardigan over a tailored collared shirt, which creates a polished and sophisticated look suitable for various occasions. She advises opting for thinner fabrics to prevent a bulky appearance.
“Try a classic button-down and lightweight cashmere cardigan over flowy silk pants and a strappy sandal,” adds Stasen. “Button the cardigan from the bottom up to a point where you are comfortable. If you want to take the look to the next level, buy fun crystal or pearl buttons and switch them out yourself, or bring them to a tailor. This takes the cardigan from basic to elegant.”
5. Select the right silhouettes.
The most important thing, says Lee, is to choose cardigans that flatter your body type. “A well-fitted v-neck cardigan elongates the neck and creates a leaner appearance,” she tells Best Life.
Have an hourglass shape? A belted or peplum cardigan can draw attention to a small waist while highlighting your enviable curves. If you’re particularly tall, go for a calf-grazing duster cardigan. Or, if you’re an apple shape, consider an open cardigan with some detailing on the shoulders to draw the eye upward.
6. Belt it up.
“If you’re looking to define your waist and add a touch of modernity to your cardigan ensemble, consider cinching it with a thin belt,” says Lee. This technique works particularly well with longer, duster-style cardigans.
“Choose a belt that complements the color palette of your outfit and position it at your natural waistline,” adds Lee. “The belted cardigan not only accentuates your figure but also adds a trendy element to your overall look.”
7. Play with textures.
Mixing up the textures in your ensemble is one of the best ways to amp up the visual intrigue, says Veresovaya. The idea is to aim for contrast between the material of your cardigan and whatever you’re pairing it with or layering underneath.
“If your cardigan is knitted or has a ribbed texture, pair it with smoother fabrics like silk or satin blouses,” Veresovaya tells Best Life. “Conversely, a smooth, cashmere cardigan can beautifully contrast with a textured brocade skirt or a ruffled blouse.”