Hear Me Out: Brown Cardigans Are Cooler Than You Think

It's true.

Yea, we all know cardigans are cool. They do all the work of keeping you warm like a sweater, while being far more interesting.

Cardigans are also an essential item for layering during the colder months. And their versatility means they go just as well when worn casually with a pair of jeans and a grungy shirt as they do with smart pants and a shirt.

But that’s not what I’m going to talk about today. Today I’m talking about how to wear brown cardigans. Mainly because I recently bought one. And I think it’s cool af.

At first I had reservations. Was it too brown? And would the color go with the items I already had in my wardrobe?

The good news is it didn’t take long for me to find some great brown cardigan outfits using the items I already owned. I’m already looking forward to wearing them over the cold season.

The Key is Finding the Right Colors

The hardest thing was finding colors that complement the brown of the cardigan.

Blue—especially lighter shades—look great with brown so that’s where I began my search. Black also works well, despite the unjustified urban myth that the two colours don’t go together. Grey and light earthy colors also complement brown nicely.

The only time I really struggled was when trying to pair brown with darker colours. All the brown cardigan outfits below have a light shade to break up the darker colors. The only exception is the black and brown outfit where I guess the brown itself is the lighter color.

The other challenge was finding the right type of outfits to wear. While one of the below fits is relatively smart, most of them are pretty casual, which I think suits the overall vibe of a brown cardigan.

I prefer to wear my cardigans unbuttoned as I like a more relaxed look and sometimes doing the cardigan up can look quite stuffy. Although you can make it work at times where you’re required to be smarter.

Here are the seven ways I’ll be wearing my brown cardigan.

How to Wear a Brown Cardigan: 7 Outfits for Men

1. With Indigo Jeans and a Check Shirt

Brown Cardigan Check Shirt Indigo Jeans

There’s no question that this is my favorite brown cardigan outfit. The earthy colors of the shirt go really well with the brown cardigan. The shade of the shirt is also quite light, meaning it brings a nice contrast to the outfit. The dark blue jeans and desert boots are a great combination that perfectly match the cardigan’s level of formality.

2. With a Grey Shirt and Light Blue Jeans

Brown Cardigan Grey Shirt

Blue, grey, and brown are three colors that go great together. The grey collarless shirt offsets the darker color of the cardigan. The rolled up light blue jeans and loafers give the outfit a casual spring vibe which isn’t really present in the other outfits.

3. With Grey Trousers and a White Shirt

Brown Cardigan Grey Trousers

Brown isn’t typically the best color for a formal outfit but you can make it work. I think it goes best with a white shirt and grey jeans as both these colors are quite light. The light blue tie finishes the outfit well. I don’t typically button my cardigans up, but as it’s a formal outfit I did for this one.

4. With More Brown and Jeans

Brown cardigan Brown Shirt Jeans

If you’re going to wear brown, why not go all in and double up? The slightly different shades stop the two layers from blending in, while the lighter jeans break up the outfit. I went for grey shoes instead of brown ones as I thought three brown items might cross a line.

5. With a Light T-Shirt and Jeans

Brown Cardigan Off-White T-shirt

Sometimes you just want to keep things simple. In these cases paring a brown cardigan with a light shirt and jeans is the way to go. I like the off-white t-shirt in the image above as it has similar earthy vibes to the cardigan. It also adds a bit of contrast to the outfit. You can’t see my footwear but throwing on some canvas shoes are sneakers will finish things off perfectly.

6. Over a Sweater and a Shirt

Brown Cardigan With Sweater

I wear a cardigan over a sweater all the time. Although, its mostly while relaxing at home when I want another layer to stay warm. Nonetheless, I do think it looks good as an outfit in its own right. The key is choosing the right colors. As mentioned, the grey and blue of the sweater go really well with the brown of the cardigan.

7. With Black Jeans and Boots

With Black Jeans and Boots

People often say you shouldn’t wear black and brown. I’m not sure where this rule comes from but it is clearly ridiculous. They’re both neutral colors and some of the best designers in the game (think Prada) frequently pair the colors together. The brown cardigan break up an otherwise monochrome outfit nicely.

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Duncan Elder

Duncan is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Boardwalk. He's a menswear writer who has spent the last 15 years developing his own sense of style, which lies at the cross-section of mid-noughties indie and Uniqlo-inspired minimalism.

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