Outfit Finishing: Short Cardigans (And The 5 Styling Tweaks Needed To Make Them Edgy)


So…after our last Fix This Outfit Post (short cardigans, skinny jeans and tiny ankle boots)…many of you wanted to know how I would style those ubiquitous short cardigans.

That question is a doozy.

Short, ladylike cardigans have a conservative, precious vibe that frankly, just isn’t my style.  And, as discussed before, wearing them open (as a cardigan) isn’t always the most flattering option.  So.  I wanted to make the short cardigan both easier to wear…and little more edgy.

The Finishing

I used the same five steps to come up with two very different outfits, both totally my style. Here’s what I did…

1.  Wear It Like A Shirt (Buttoned)

Buttoning up the cardigan and wearing it like a shirt totally changes the vibe from precious…to sexy.




2.  Add A Statement Belt

I offset the cardigan with a badass, studded belt.  This trick helped to balance the outfit, regardless of what else I wore.  However, any sort of noticeable belt would work:  a woven leather belt would exude a sort of 70’s casual-chic, a rope belt like this would be more boho.  Try something jeweled or beaded for a vintage, romantic vibe.





3. Wear Unconventional Pants (or a skirt)

To keep the look from being too precious (regardless of personal style – everything needs some balance, even a ladylike look), try something…opposite.  I like boyish denim:  distressed skinnies, or a straight-leg pair with a big, tomboyish cuff.  Perfectly faded flares or beat-up boyfriend jeans would also be cute.  If skirts are your thing, I’d go with a sleek-and-sexy pencil skirt, or a tiny little mini, skipping anything a-line or overly demure.  Shorts would also be spot-on.




4.  Add a Cool Coat

Seriously, never underestimate the power of a good coat.  Choices are virtually unlimited – find one that makes your heart beat fast.  In my case, the flowy sweat-shirt coat adds a dose of casual nonchalance, and the faux-fur?  All-out glam for $60 (super warm, too).  Why the heck not?






5.  Choose Accessories That Really Define Your Style

For day, I live in tough-girl boots, sunglasses, and winter beanies.  A cool, edgy necklace is just icing on the cake.




coat: Free People Slouchy Moto – I can’t say enough about this coat.  It’s huge and soft and is more like a sweatshirt – so comfy, I wear it all the time (layers over denim jackets beautifully).  I’m wearing an XS for reference.  Or try the newer version – this Free People slouchy peacoat has a similar vibe.

cardigan: J.Crew Cashmere Cardigan (size S for reference)

jeans: old Rag and Bone (size 26 for reference)….but am loving these slashed-knee Rag and Bones or these Paige denim destroyed skinnies.

belt: old Bebe belt that I stole from my friend Amber (cringe)….but I like the look of this Levi’s studded belt (boy’s) or this Beck Sondergaard studded belt at Bluefly.  I’ll probably wait until Emerson Fry restocks this one (or similar)

boots: Ugg Australia Elisabeta in black weave

bag:  Kate Spade Fancy Footwork Record Bag (beware – it doesn’t fit the iphone6, sob!)

hat: Sole Society c/o

sunnies: Ray Ban (half off – Amazon)

necklace: Chan Luu – I can’t find this darn necklace!  This one is close, or maybe even this Chan Luu men’s necklace.



At night, I love heels, but they MUST be comfortable – we do too much walking for me to be teetering around on some nonsense pair of shoes.  So easy heels in a fun print keeps things interesting.  Add a quirky bag and I’m a happy girl.





cardigan: J.Crew Cashmere Cardigan

coat: Forever 21 Boxy Faux Fur Jacket (taupe, size S for reference)

jeans: AG Stevie Slim Straight Jeans (size 26 for reference)

shoes: Aerosoles Leopard Tapestry Pump (IKNOW IKNOW but so comfortable you guys)

sunglasses: Ray Ban (half off – Amazon)

underpinnings:  True&Co We Are Voodoo Bustier c/o


How are you guys styling the short cardigan? I’d love your ideas (and send pics – always love those!!)




  1. I love the short cardigan in all its iterations because I have a long torso and it helps carve up the massive distance between my shoulders and hips. Short cardigans become more cropped on me and look neat with all sort of tops peeking out underneath. My favourite short cardigan though, is the Tippi cardigan from J Crew which is long enough (on me) to reach the tops of my jeans… I like your degree of unbuttonedness. It’s uber, uber sexy and I shall try that approach too.

    Another very useful styling post! Thank you!

  2. Just. So. Good. Please oh please oh PLEASE any recc for a less expensive version of those Elizabetas that are HAUNTING MY DREAMS?

  3. WHen I was younger I had a vintage short cardigan with a cool retro print. I wore it backwards with a couple of buttons undone at the back of my neck.

  4. Fun post Shana–as always! One way that I wear my short cardis is backwards. It’s quirky and fun and turns the cardigan into a crew neck. I’ll send you a pic via Twitter. If I’m honest, and don’t take it to pervy, I like the cleaver in the second shot! 😀


    Ann of Kremb de la Kremb

  5. I usually just wear them to work with black dress pants or over a dress with black tights and boots. I never thought of wearing like a shirt though, that’s a great idea!

  6. I love these posts about outfit finishing. It’s just what I need! I don’t need any more clothes- I just have to style the great ones I already have better! Thank you for the tips- I love your style.

  7. Just popping in to say THANKS for your blog from a non-mom-fan! I just re-discovered it and have been reading all the posts I missed with delight. Your style is the closest to my ideal style and it is so fabulous to get ideas / recommendations. (This title reminded me of why I love it .. I bought a dress from Anthro a few years ago even though I wasn’t a dress person. Loved the dress, but the first time I wore it, it felt all wrong somehow. Eventually, I realized it was too precious because of the way I had styled it – sweet lacy dress + sweet shoes + sweet necklace. I found a pair of fringe ankle boots (so not me they were me) and a different necklace and now it is one of my favorite outfits.) I don’t always know how to do that on my own, so it’s nice to have a place to get ideas. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks. You are appreciated.

    (Also, I love that your sister posts too, because I recently moved 2 hours north of Marquette. Sometimes it seems impossible to be both warm + stylish! I need all the help I can get.)

  8. Love this post, but any suggestions (from ANYONE out there) for those of us who are a little TOO booby for the button up look? I suppose that we could adapt all these suggestions with a graphic tee underneath. On that note…I’m having trouble finding some (work-with-kids appropriate) graphic tees. Any recent store finds?

    • Yeah, the whole cardi thing…I sent my last one to Thredup a couple of weeks ago, actually, but when I wore it last it was over a cami with a few buttons in the middle done up. Buttons=waist, cami=boobs under wraps. But, I do wear a dressy (business appropriate) moto-styled blazer with a front zip that hits in a similar place as S’s cardi with a partial zip (cleavage) for date night and it ain’t a bad look, I’ll say. And I think filling some of that space with a statement necklace can tone it down if it’s too…boobie? (Did I really just say that???? That said, after finishing nursing my last I’m really only landing at a C/D, so not huge….)

      Graphic Ts. I’ve got a J Crew linen one that is both long enough and with enough slouch that it’s very flattering. Also, when Gap and Old Navy do a cute one with a scoop or V in a tall, I find that sizing works well for a little half tuck action. My current obsession is this one…http://bananarepublic.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=1013222&vid=1&pid=403413002 Only size they had was a M and the fit felt…formal, I guess? Not what I wanted. But I’m stalking the large!

  9. These are excellent tips! I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten rid of all my cardigans like that for just the reason you mentioned — they felt too precious and boring. But! This inspires me to figure out what to do with a couple other things languishing in my closet…

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