Ann Taylor Loft inspired this post with their excellent photographs for the V-neck cardigan style. The photos show the versatility of a fine gauge, straight cut boyfriend cardigan, but you could substitute that silhouette with a fairly simply cascading or fly away cardigan if that’s more to your taste.

V-Neck Cardigan - YellowV-Neck Cardigan - Brown

What’s clear from the photos is how well this type of cardigan can work across casual, smart casual and business casual dress codes depending on the items it’s matched with. Lets break down the outfit variations and refine the details:

  1. Smart Casual — Cardigan over blouse with jeans: This outfit is smart casual and would look fab matched with dressy shoes and handbag. Sleeveless or long sleeved items work best layered under the cardigan to prevent fabric bunching on the sleeve. Here’s an added versatility tip: substitute the jeans for a pair of dress pants or more fashion forward style of dress pants and you’ve changed the dress code to business casual. You can further accessorize the outfit with a belt worn either over both layers of cardigan and blouse, or just over the blouse leaving the cardigan flowing. Remember that your necklace and belt should work in harmony.
  2. Casual — Cardigan over T with jeans: This outfit is casual if you can imagine it with a pair of casual shoes like Converse sneakers, Privo flats or cowboy boots and a more casual necklace. You can substitute the jeans for a faded pair and the plain T for any type of casual top. Obviously you can leave the cardigan unbuttoned.
  3. Business Casual — Cardigan over blouse with a pencil skirt: This is a business casual outfit and its shown with a tucked-in blouse and belted cardigan. You can leave the blouse un-tucked and omit the belt if that’s more comfortable. Added versatility tip: swap out the dressy skirt for a denim one and you’ve changed the dress code to smart casual.
  4. Business Casual — Cardigan over a dress: This is another business casual outfit showing how well the cardigan layers over a fairly straight shift or sheath dress. It’s belted in the photo, but you could leave off the belt.

For all outfit variations you can scrunch up the sleeves for added outfit interest and texture. It’s also important to remember that these mini cardigan formulas are precisely that – formulas. Apply the basic concept and make your outfit as classic, spunky, arty, urban, dressy or casual as you like.

V-Neck Cardigan - GreyV-Neck Cardigan - Cream

Hopefully this post either sends you back to have fun in your closet, or encourages the purchase of a boyfriend or cascading cardigan. Shout in the comments if you have further questions.