What’s the one thing Arnold Palmer, Kurt Cobain, and Young Thug can all agree on? Cardigans are dope as all hell. Grab a thin dressy men’s cardigan, and it turns a boring old suit into the nattiest three-piece you own. Throw on a gigantic, freaky patterned take, and you’re instantly vibing out with Dude-level chill. And no matter where you land between those two extremes, the best cardigans will make whatever you’re wearing—whether it’s a graphic tee and Dickies or a slim turtleneck and trousers—feel a little more considered and dignified and just plain cool. To help you reach that higher plane of fit-dom, we’ve assembled a roster full of winners to button up in from now till the end of time.
The Only Cardigan You Really Need
Let’s say you’re only going to buy one cardigan this year. (That would be a mistake, given how many dope ones we just spent several weeks finding for you—seriously, we implore you, just scroll a little further down!—but let’s run through this thought experiment anyway.) You’d probably want it to be big enough to layer over all manner of button-downs and hoodies and crewneck T-shirts, but not so big that it doesn’t fit under your topcoat. You’d want it to have plenty of woolly texture and character, and also be soft (maybe with some cashmere in the mix) but not too delicate (thanks to some nylon in there, too). You’d want it, even in a basic solid color like camel or black, to feel like the spotlight-worthy star of the show. And if all of that sounds right and true, then, well, this is the one you want.
The Best Really-Feeling-Yourself Cardigan
Needles are the kings of the freaky statement cardigan, and this fuzzy mohair masterpiece feels trippy enough to send a long-retired hippie into an acid flashback tailspin. Wear it with confidence or don’t wear it at all.
The Best Buttoned-Up Cardigan
Sometimes you don’t need your cardigan to be warm enough to replace your coat or loud enough to be the focal point of your fit. Sometimes you just need a crisp, quiet background player, something that’ll fit under a blazer and won’t make you drip sweat in the office. That’s this Lands’ End joint. Fine gauge cotton, comes in a quartet of pleasing neutral tones, and for an extra $8 you can go full prep and get it monogrammed.
The Best Cardigan for Staying Toasty
Ever wish that beefy fleece jacket you’ve been living in all year played a little bit nicer with your work clothes? Here’s your answer. Beams cleverly managed to siphon all the fluffy, crunchy goodness you love about your Patagonia Retro-X into a far more refined, streamlined package.
The Best Budget Cardigan
If you don’t have the coin for a grail-level Acne cardigan, Uniqlo—as per usual—has you covered. Sure, the lambswool knit isn’t the softest stuff on Earth, and yeah, it probably won’t last you years and years. But for a measly $20, it delivers enough warmth and style and utility to see you through at least a winter’s worth of fits.
The Best Right-Now Cardigan
Everything we love about Entireworld’s tees, they brought to this handsome ribbed cardigan: the fit is boxy in a perfectly 2020 way, the fabric is kitten soft but still has plenty of structure, and the pricetag is surprisingly reasonable. Wins all around.
The Best Hulked-Out Cardigan
What Burberry is to trench coats, what Jordan is to basketball shoes, Inverallan is to husky, impenetrable, cable knit sweaters. Every detail of this colossal shawl collar is exactly what you’d want it to be, from the buttons (wood) to the point of origin (hand-knit in Scotland) to the weight (heavier than fresh cement). Treat it right, and it’ll last long enough for your grandkids’ grandkids to inherit and wear.