How to Wear a Sleeveless Cardigan

By: Orvis Staff

It’s too warm for a sweater, but not quite warm enough to go without. You need a versatile layer to wear when you’re looking for a little extra warmth—or just a dash of style. Enter the vest cardigan.

What Is a Vest Cardigan?

A vest cardigan is a sleeveless cardigan—essentially a sweater vest that buttons or is open in the front. The cardigan sweater first gained popularity as menswear for its resemblance to a military uniform waistcoat, but has since become a favorite of both men and women. The classic cardigan’s sleeveless counterpart is a perfect layering piece. It can add visual interest to both office wear and casual attire. Often associated with cooler weather, a sleeveless cardigan is also a smart choice in spring and summer.

Here’s a look at a few ways to style a vest cardigan in any season:

Women’s sleeveless cardigans come in a wider variety than the men’s style. A neutral color is more versatile—you can mix and match your favorite items—but patterns offer a fantastic opportunity to bring some color into your wardrobe.

Spring and Summer

Lightweight knits and flowing versions of the open-front sleeveless cardigan are easygoing favorites. A chic, flyaway front offers a carefree style for spring and summer.

  • Go casual with a comfortable tee and your favorite jeans paired with an open, sleeveless cardigan.
  • Top off a fitted dress when with a cardigan in a similar length.
  • An evening out calls for a patterned sleeveless blouse, fitted stretch ankle pants, and a coordinating long cardigan vest.
  • Wear a sleeveless cardigan over a pencil skirt and blouse for a day in the office.
  • Bring a nautical feeling to your next vacation with a red or yellow sleeveless cardigan over a three-quarter sleeve striped crewneck.

Fall and Winter

Play up the cozy vibes in cooler months with a long, sleeveless cardigan. Chunky knits, waterfall or shawl collars, and fur-trimmed sleeveless cardigans are wintertime favorites. Part sweater and part jacket, an open cardigan offers a little extra warmth as cold winds blow.

  • Layer a cardigan vest over a turtleneck or crewneck shirt for a simple silhouette.
  • Cinch the waist of an open sleeveless cardigan with a statement belt.
  • A festive plaid shirt styles well with a cardigan vest for casual parties or days spent shopping.
  • Dress up a winter getaway with a faux-fur or faux-shearling trimmed sleeveless cardigan.
  • Cashmere and Merino wool bring a touch of elegance to the cozy style.

A sleeveless cardigan can carry you from summer straight through to next spring. Skip the sweatshirt on the weekends. Instead, button up in a cardigan vest for a comfortable, put-together style you can don for a day around the house or on the town.

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