Casual

The Best Cardigans For a Way More Exciting Fall Wardrobe

Less serious than a jacket and more pulled together than a simple top, a cardigan layered over your outfit can up your style factor, big time! Cardigans are an easy way to dump the frump and add some excitement to your look. Here are 4 of the best cardigans I’ve found to perk up your fall wardrobe.

womens fall Cardigan - Leopard reversible

1. Versatile Reversible Cardigan

This is something you rarely see, and it’s such a great idea! I love this sleek, sophisticated cardigan in this classic leopard print, and when I’m tired of it, I can turn it inside out and wear this sharp-looking black cardigan trimmed in white.  Both sides look elegant but not stuffy, worn with a crisp white shirt and a pair of soft, black Ponte leggings or pants.

You could pair this cardigan with many boots, but my choice would be these smooth, shiny leather Chelsea boots. Chelsea boots are dressier than a cowboy bootie or moto bootie.  They are sleeker and more refined – perfectly in sync with this chic, minimalist cardigan. This gorgeous brown bucket bag echoes the same minimalist look, and the combo of brown with black gives this outfit a classy, European vibe.

 

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2. Southwest Fringe Cardigan

When you find a beautiful statement cardigan like this, grab it. A piece like this is all you need to walk into a room and have everyone’s jaw drop. This gorgeous fringe cardigan with its laid-back Southwest style makes a modern wild west statement perfect for this time of year when things are starting to cool down.

All you need is a pair of jeans ( I like the dark wash to make the blue in the sweater stand out), a simple tee, or a stretch camisole. You really don’t want to complicate things by adding other colors. The beauty of this outfit is the sweater so let everything else fall into the background.

Mules are a good choice of shoe for this look because they suit the casual cowgirl feel. Add pair of stunning stone earrings and a simple, classy messenger bag, and you are all set.

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2. Romantic Cropped Cardigan

If you read my recent post on feminine fall sweaters, you know by now that sweaters with puff sleeves are where it is at this fall. Pretty, feminine sweaters are trending, and this crop style is one of the most popular.  You can wear this pretty cardigan open over a tank or tee,  or the more popular way is alone, buttoned up.

I know it’s short, and you don’t want your stomach showing, but no problem. The trick is to pair a cropped sweater with high-rise jeans. They can be high-waisted, straight legs (straight leg jeans are more popular at the moment than skinnies), or why not experiment with a pair of high-waisted cropped flares? A ladylike sweater like this one in delicate pink deserves accessories as sweet, so we’ve gone with this gorgeous ivory top handle and these uber elegant suede mules with the Chanel-like chain detail. Pretty pearl earrings round off this fresh, feminine look.

 

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Women's Fall Cardigan - Grey Open

 

4. Elegant Button-Free Cardigan

Casually elegant is the best way to describe this charcoal birdseye knit with its contrasting gray collar. This buttonless, cotton-blend cardigan is ideal this time of year to transition into cooler weather. Wear it with white jeans (yes, you can wear white jeans in fall!), a black turtleneck, and a pair of riding boots for a modern horsey-set look. This feathery statement bag ties the look together and puts a creative note to this crisp black-and-white look.

Style tip: Try belting this cardigan. A quality black leather belt with a big buckle can be very chic, or wear the sweater open to expose more of the light gray contrast inside.

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Join the Conversation

24 thoughts on “The Best Cardigans For a Way More Exciting Fall Wardrobe

  1. I love most of the outfits you put together but have to say I am not a fan of open, sloppy sweaters. I have some, but will be glad when they are out of style. My 28 year old daughter pushes me to try new things, but I always feel better in nicely tailored clothing. I went to a shower in a cardigan and pearls and realized I looked like a dinosaur among the hip women in fur boots. Trying to land somewhere in between is a challenge sometimes, and that’s how I discovered your blog.

  2. Take a look at Chicos- while their models may be just at/over 40…they are still not “real sized” but at least they demonstrate a more mature sensibility.

    1. Hi Christyn, Yes they’re doing a good job with that. I hope other retailers follow suit. It would be nice to go to a department store site and not have to imagine how something might look on a mature woman. Thanks for this. Cheers, Deborah

  3. Hi Deborah, I just love your site, Deborah, and enthusiastically look forward to receiving your great emails. However, I find that although these long sweaters look great on the 5’10” super thin models, they definitely do not flatter the shape of the “average” woman. I am only 5 feet tall so these sweaters would hit my mid-calf or even near my ankles. Oh, not a pretty sight! However, I agree totally that we should all look at ourselves in the mirror and make a determination as to whether an outfit looks good on us or not. BTW, as a rebuttal to the commenter who advised “older” women not to wear leggings…….again, we should be the ones to decide what looks good and what doesn’t. She is not the fashion police!

    1. Hi Christie,
      You are right. It is all about proportion, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear this trend. A petite woman would need to find a shorter, less voluminous version of these.
      As for the comment by my other reader, I understand where she is coming from. Perhaps she is referring to women who try to wear leggings like pants (with a short top) and expose too much. That can look bad.

      I think it’s hard to generalize about what to wear or not to wear at any age because the world is changing and so are women. Styles don’t have an age attached to them anymore. What you wear is much more about who you are, your body, your personality, your confidence level etc. I may have preferences as to what I think looks great over 40, but I don’t believe in handing out rules for what to wear. There’s always someone who can pull off wearing something you might not of thought of and look fab. My only goal at 40, 50 and beyond is to dress in a way I think is elegant, tasteful and modern. Thanks for your comments Christie. I love chatting with you all. Cheers, Deborah

      1. Hello again Deborah! I was delighted to receive a response from you. I am not sure if you can receive this particular tv channel in your area or not (I live in Rhode Island). One channel in particular is the Hallmark channel, which airs the wonderful episodes of “I Love Lucy”. In addition to being a classic and beloved comedy show, I just love seeing the great fashions worn by Lucille Ball and her various female guests. My all time favorites are when the Ricardos and Mertzes went to Hollywood. Not only are the story lines classic comedy, the Hollywood fashions during that era are also classic and beautiful. Oh, how I wish some of those fashions would come back into vogue! Thanks again for your response. Keep your great emails coming!
        Best regards,
        Christie

  4. I love your tips. It encourages me to get out there and try things on! Shopping with a goal in mind is helpful and these tips get me going. I totally agree with you about leggings by the way. I seen classy elderly women here in L.A.and New York that look amazing in leggings, boots, and a long sweater. Keep up the great work!

  5. In reading this article, I am still left questioning if the short button up cardigans are a no-go for woman over 40. Are you saying they make you look older?? It seems as though there were a ton of options for those shorter sweaters WhiteHouseBlackMarket) this season in prints. I purchased a couple because I typically wear the longer style. Should those be given to goodwill?

    1. Hi Doreen,
      Keep your short cardigans! They’re classic pieces that never go out of style. You can wear them, no problem. They’re more on the traditional side.
      Long cardigans worn with skinny jeans or leggings are more modern. Since they are the latest trend you will look hip and updated. Cheers, Deborah

    2. You should NOT give them to Goodwill. You should wear what you like and fits your lifestyle. Nothing is a “no-go” based on age, in my opinion. Maybe size/shape/personal comfort level, but not age. Your outfit would dictate the best kind of cardigan to wear. For example, I have a pair of grey boot-cut trousers I bought for work this year. The overall fit is slim but a long flowy cardigan looks kind of sloppy with the boot cut legs. A shorter cardigan looks better for that outfit. I might not wear it for a night out on the town, but it’s a good look for the office or a more conservative social gathering. Your outfit should suit the occasion and your body/style preference.

  6. I’m having trouble with the long sweaters, even the ones with a somewhat empire cut are too long this season for this 5’1″ woman! I can pull the old one from the back of my closet and it still works! Each season the styles get cut bigger and taller–Sweaters don’t lend themselves to being altered!

  7. Love them all! Just ordered an animal print cardigan!!! Can’t wait for cool weather….this will be my ‘coat’ for our south Louisiana winter! :)

    1. Hi Cathy, I don’t hire models but I do post some photos of readers in stylish outfits from time to time. You can send in a photo of yourself in a current outift and if the photo quality if very good and the outfit goes with a theme we are working on we might just post it. No headshots please. Mail photos to info@fabulousafter40.com Cheers!

  8. Hi! I love the long cardigans, but honestly, nothing screams “frumpy old lady” like that “cascading” sweater pictured in your article. While I’m at it, please please please discourage anyone over 40 to wear leggings of any style. It’s a very young trend and the end result simply doesn’t match the face, no matter how toned the body. Call it what you will, it still looks like a mini dress over tights.

    1. Hi Cathy,
      Gee, I feel quite differently. I’ve seen lots of women over 40 who can pull off leggings and look fabulous in a cascading sweater. It’s such an individual thing. All I would say is if something doesn’t feel right for you, it isn’t. Go with your gut (and your mirror!)

  9. If the women wearing these cutesy cardi’s were like your toothpick thin models this trend might be passable, but most ladies I’ve seen look a bit like sausages stuffed into casings that are a bit too small.

  10. So feminine! Very pretty selections. My personal dress code is “sexy feminine” a combination of bold with feminine…very very feminine. I get the bold or more mature look with high quality fabric selections and well-cut pieces, but I always look for flirty or feminine touches like a ruffle, shirring, scallops, buttons, etc. Cardigans like this fit that style matrix.

    Any of you watch the movie Blind Side? I like Sandra Bullock’s look. What a babe. She has bold-cut clothing, high quality fabrics, but softens her look with jewelry, belts and ooo those skin-tone-colored slings! I need to get me some of them! I call her “sexy feminine”. That’s what I’m after…we are the same age and share the same name. But…that’s where the comparison ends. he he….

    Sandra

  11. I love the cardigans on the models, but not on me. I’m a D cup with a small waist… and cardigans worn open are a disaster (hang on either side of the “girls” like a theatrical curtain and closed they look either too boxy (even fitted ones) or they gap. I’ve actually tried on several of the ones pictured here. Unfortunately, they didn’t look so hot on me! Takes a certain body to carry them off.

    1. Hi Magdalene,
      You make a very good point!! It is true that not everything looks good on all body types, however, if you leave the cardigan open you might be able to pull it off a little better. Nothing looks worse than a top that is closed and the buttons are “straining”. But, back to your point, if you don’t think you look good in this then do stay away from it!

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