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How to Wear a Varsity Cardigan

Of all the trends in cardigans we’re seeing in spring, the one I am the most excited to wear is the Varsity Cardigan, or boyfriend style.

With a collegiate, preppy vibe and a sprinkle of 90’s nostalgia, it’s hard not to love.

So I was eager to create today’s How to Wear it.

I even surprised myself with the amount of versatility this will add to your closet. 

How to Wear a Varsity Cardigan

How to Wear a Varsity Cardigan

Varsity Cardigan Sweater, $158 

First let’s talk about the cardigan, what we call the “key piece.” This is the item you are creating an outfit around and the center of our How to Wear it series. 

Today, I’m featuring this relaxed boucle cardigan from J.Crew.

This is available in XS/S – L/XL. It’s oversized by nature, so I ordered the M/L.

Another option you can wear in the same way is this one from Gap, in wheat or navy, in sizes XXS – XXL. It’s on sale right now for under $50. 

Okay, now for the outfits. 

I created three different looks. Because the cardigan is trimmed in navy, I’m working with that in the bottoms, with jeans, navy shorts and navy double knit leggings. 

And you’ll notice with all of these looks I am using the Nic + Zoe Perfect tank, a great staple piece to have on hand.

You can wear any simple white layer, like a tee shirt, the point is that the cardigan is the top and only needs a light under piece. 

With Jeans

Varsity Sweater, Vintage Jeans, White Tank, Ecru loafers, and gold hoops


Vintage Jeans, $128 | The Perfect Tank, $48 | Loafers, $165 |  Gold Hoops, $14

This is the easiest outfit and is so cute. 

I’m using these best selling jeans by Madewell. I absolutely love Madewell jeans, and appreciate the fact that they have sizes including petite and tall. 

The fray hem is an extra casual detail. If you don’t like the raw hem, wear any straight or skinny jean you have. 

Then, these Rothy flats in beige. I did order these in a half-size up from my usual and they fit well. 

For accessories and jewelry, keep it simple. I using these classic gold hoops that are under $15 on Amazon. I have the smallest size option and they are fantastic. 

With Shorts

Varsity Sweater, Tan Slide sandals, white tank, leopard tote bag, and navy paper bag shorts


The Perfect Tank, $48 | Paperbag High Waisted Shorts, $90 | Slide Sandals, $228 | Leopard Tote Bag, $85 

One of my favorite ways to wear shorts is with a long sleeve top, it helps create balance and looks polished. 

Here I’m using navy paperbag shorts from Boden, available in sizes 2 -22. If you’d rather wear a traditional short, that would look lovely too. 

The Nic + Zoe tank is nice here since you can tuck it in smoothly.

Then, this fun leopard print tote, also from Boden and our favorite splurge-worthy Tory Burch slides

Ponte Leggings

Varsity Sweater, Navy Leggings, tan cap, white and navy sneakers, and white tank

The Perfect Tank, $48 | High Rise Leggings, $89.50 | Sneakers, $70 |Cotton Cap, $13 

Finally, a sporty, casual outfit ideal for a day of errand-running or travel. 

I’m using the Sloan Legging from Banana Republic in navy (because the trim of the cardigan is navy). These are available in all sizes 0 – 20, including petite. They are currently on sale for an additional 40% off of $89.

Then, these Veja sneakers with navy detail. They work here, or would look great with jeans. 

And to really lean into the sporty aspect of the outfit, this beige baseball cap from our H&M roundup last month

How to Wear a Varsity Cardigan

Related Posts

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Megan Kristel

Megan Kristel is an entrepreneur, working mom, and former personal stylist. Tired of the one-dimensional portrayal of women online, she founded The Well Dressed Life as a resource for other professional women.

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Friday 18th of March 2022

I LOVE YOUR POSTS! I ordered a longer cardigan but am so excited for the adorable leopard bag for Spring! I also ordered a cute black floral print in the tote. You are spot on with your recommendations. Thank you for your insight and research, I love getting your posts because I know there will be a clothing/accessory item I’ve been thinking I need…like the trench coat from yesterday!