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Apparel Options in Women's Cardigans

Chickie Maxwell

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A cardigan is a sweater that fastens in the front with buttons, a tie or a zipper. Today, there are more options for womens cardigans than ever before. Here are some of the most popular:

Button front

Buttons are the classic cardigan fastener. Cropped, cutaway and flared-bottom sweaters are often fastened with a single large button.

Tie front

Many womens cardigans have a single tie made of a long rope in the same material as the sweater. An elegant alternative for evening is a wide tie made of a sheer, silky fabric.

Zipper front

Zippers add a sporty variation to the traditional cardigan. Zipper-front cardigans usually end slightly below the waist.

Shawl collar

This look incorporates a collar that’s gently rolled over. For a casual, arty look, wide shawl collars can be embellished with a variety of creative edge treatments such as fringe or even ruffles.


Instead of a collar, a cardigan may simply have a woven edge treatment around the neck and down the front. Usually, the edging is of the same yarn as the sweater, but some cardigans have contrasting edging of printed cotton or other material. Collarless cardigans may either have a traditional round neckline or a V-neck. V-necks often have button fronts and a sporty or traditional look.

Shirt collared

Some cardigans have collars that are folded over like a shirt. The shirt collar works especially well with a zippered front.


Sleeveless cardigans are a year-long fashion accessory. They can be worn over turtleneck sweaters in the cold winter months, sleeveless tops in the warm summer months and a short-sleeved shirt in the in-between seasons.


A hood, usually made of the same material as the sweater, is a youthful addition to a cardigan sweater.

Short sleeved

Short-sleeved cardigans run the gamut from cap sleeves to shirt-length sleeves to three-quarter-length sleeves. One of the most feminine styles combines a sleeve that ends at the elbow with a long ruffle made of the same material.

Raglan sleeved

The shoulders of raglan sleeves extend all the way to the neck. Oversized raglan sleeves are perfect for patchwork cardigans that combine many weaves or colors.


Long and shawl-collared womens cardigans often come with their own belts that can be tied or left loose. If the cardigan has fringe or other trim around the collar, the trim may be repeated at the ends of the belt.

Open weave

A cool spring or summer style is an open-weave cardigan. Available in pastels, primary colors, black or white, the open weave sweater wards off the chill of air-conditioned indoor spaces.

Flared bottom

These womens cardigans flare slightly at the hips or end in a wide ruffle made of the same sweater material.


Cropped womens cardigans may be as short as a bolero jacket or may end just at the waist. They may be fasted with buttons or ties.


This style is patterned after men’s cutaway coats. The front of the cardigan is short and gradually slopes to a longer back.


Long cardigans range from those that end at the hips to those that extend to the knees. Excellent for camouflaging wide hips, these womens cardigans can be dressed up or down with shoes, accessories, pants or skirts. One attractive look for the office is a long cardigan paired with a wool skirt and cinched at the waist with a leather belt.

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