Men’s Cardigan Sweaters: Look Sharp and Stylish with These Layering Tips

Pulling off a men’s cardigan might be hip in today’s style. But with great hipness comes great responsibility.

The responsibility we refer to is sartorial responsibility. In other words, can you create an outfit that matches the ambition and quality of your sweater? Can you pick the right layers that will keep you warm and put-together? Follow these men’s fashion tips for layering, and you’ll find that it’s not nearly as hard as you might have thought.

First Rules of Layering: Contrast and Complement

Let’s say you’re wearing a serious men’s cardigan sweater, like the Retro Cable Cardigan in Grolive. This sweater will likely be the highlight of your outfit, so minimal “layering style” required, right? You certainly don’t want to get it wrong and distract from a fantastic highlight piece. In that case, you want to utilize two simple men’s fashion principles:

  • Contrast: Think about contrasting colors and contrasting textures. In this case, a smooth white button-down underneath contrasts with color and texture of the Retro Cable Cardigan. But in order to avoid clashing, you should take something else into account…
  • Complement: You want to contrast without detracting from the overall structure of the look. In the case of an oxford cloth button down shirt underneath, the quality of the underneath shirt lives up to the quality of the cardigan. A graphic tee, on the other hand, would simply clash.

Once you can master finding the right piece that both contrasts and complements with your outer layer, you’re well on your way. But there’s more to learn.

Avoid Too Much “Busy-ness” In Your Outfit

Let’s say that you chose a Block Knit Cardigan in Blue Graphite. It doesn’t take a regular Tom Ford to recognize that this sweater, while offering a classic look, is plenty “loud” enough for most outfits. Unless you really know how to experiment with colors and textures, chances are that you’ll want to go somewhat conservative with your other layers to avoid a look that is too visually “busy.”

Here’s what you need to know about avoiding a whole heap of busy:

  • Avoid doubling up. For example, a polo shirt of the same color would add another collar to your outfit. Because the colors match each other, it would have the effect of visually “doubling” the collar on your cardigan sweater. That’s a little too busy.
  • Remember to pick a palette. You have three colors in your outfit now: the cardigan, the bottom layer, and the color of your pants. Other accessories like shoes and scarves can further muddy things up. Pick colors that fit within an entire palette, not colors that simply complement whatever they’re next to in your outfit.

Finally, make sure that you pick a men’s cardigan sweater that you’ll want to wear all of the time. That might mean bright red for one style type or bronze brown for another. The key: it’s all about making the right choice. Browse our collection of men’s sweaters—cardigans or not—and you’ll be able to find something that you can easily match and layer with the clothes already in your wardrobe.