Best long cardigans 2024 for women over 50

I’ve picked out some great-looking long cardigans from US and UK retailers. You’ll find my selections at the end of the post. They include affiliate links so, you know, I’ll get a small commission if you buy, it’s a help to pay for the hosting of this blog.

Note that this time I’ve selected items that may not be available in both the US and the UK, or at least not without import duties, so that’s why there are two separate image sets.

How to select your long cardigans

I think the most important thing is to decide on the weight you want. And only after that, to think about color and exact length.

There are lightweight cardigans that you can wear more for their slimming effects and styling than for their warmth.

If it’s cooler weather you’ll likely want to invest in at least a medium weight wool or wool and cotton mix. As you’ll wear this cardi lots, it’s better to look for a neutral or basic color that works with lots of outfits, or your winter capsule wardrobe, if you make one.

Thick long cardigans are very much statement pieces. They act as a coat outdoors and a snuggly nest on the sofa. They are the most interesting of the long cardigans. Look for ribs, cables, bright colors and patterns. You won’t wear this cardigan as often as a lighter one so make sure that when you do, you adore the fun or style aspects. No need to play safe here.

Wearing a medium weight long cardigan

A medium-weight long cardigan is a good choice if you want to wear it over lots of your outfits. It will hang better than a finer woollen so you can use it as an over-layer for most of your tops and shirts.

Choose one that is substantial enough to go over a cotton shirt, even if tucked in, without clinging to every fold of the shirt’s fabric.

These sometimes come in a more structured style than lighter and heavier cardigans. I like the ones that are like a long jacket because they can be dressed up or down with anything from silk scarves to woolly gloves, depending on the weather and the occasion.

Choosing a heavier-weight long cardigan

A heavier cardigan can look casual and fun, especially for a more country look.  Perfect for walks with the family at the weekend or on Christmas morning.

The downside of any long cardigan is that it easily sags out of shape, especially at the hem.  And the heavier and longer the knit, the more this is a problem.  Roll or fold your heavy knits after wearing.  Never hang them or they’ll sag even more.

Fortunately a heavy cardigan does not stretch at the rear so badly as a fine one.  So you can afford to snuggle yourself up in a heavy long cardigan without fear of stretching it out of shape. After all one of the big pluses (pun intended) of the long cardigan is the camouflage effect around the middle and hip region.

Look out for interesting knits such as cable – very fashionable in 2023-4. And there are some ethnic-look heavy knits around too – a vintage look referencing the late sixties and seventies. Anthropologie (US but now also UK) is a wonderful store for these. Anthropolgie UK link here, all other links are to the US store. Sadly, the UK store does not have the full selection of the US store – yet!

For some reason these are the cardigans that we like to tie around our waist, but beware! Nothing says frumpy faster than a short large lady tied up in a big cardigan. I know because I’m short and wide myself! So snuggle but don’t bundle.

Deciding on a finer knit long cardigan

Fine long cardigans work really well to create a smarter outfit as long as you keep the under layers smooth and fine too.  Think smooth cotton roll necks, silky vest tops and satin shirts that can be tucked in or, better, left to hang down to the hips.

These fine knits can look especially good over a skirt or a dress, adding that extra bit of warmth and nicely slicing off the sides of your waist and hips. A cashmere long cardigan, to the hip or the knee, can make you look taller and well-styled day or evening.

Again, avoid hanging long fine knits. Fold carefully and loosely and place on a shelf with nothing heavy pressing down on them.

What pants to wear with a long cardigan

Here, it’s more the waist area that will decide whether trousers look good under a long cardigan. That’s because thick fabric, such as tweed, can add quite a bit of thickness to your middle if there are belt-loops or side pockets.

So look for pants that fit snugly at the waist and lie smoothly. Then you’ll avoid the cardigan catching on the waistband at the sides and especially round the back. You won’t notice when you look in the mirror, but after you’ve sat in the cardigan for a while it may have stretched out of shape over this extra thickness.

All weights of cardigan will work well with straight-cut or narrow pants or leggings. In fact, if you love leggings but find them too revealing for most days, a mid-weight long cardigan that covers your rump and thighs can be a godsend on chilly days.

If the waist area lies neat and flat then wide pants work well too. I prefer to see wide pants that flow around the body. This makes a stylish contrast with the weight of the cardigan. Silk and satin trousers are ideal for an evening at home or out with friends if you have a fine or mid-weight long knit on top.

And remember that silky pajamas are a perfect pairing with a long cardigan for winter evenings round a roaring log fire (or in front of the TV, less romantic but nice all the same.)

I would steer clear of heavy cord pants unless you are tall. A thick long top over thick long trousers is a hard act to carry off for most of us.

Can I wear jeans with a long cardigan?

Let’s be honest, we all do.

And if you look at most retailers they show more jeans and long cardi outfits than any other pairing.

Yes, the fabric is thick, no it does not have flow, yes, there are belt-loops and very often a belt too. So how can this look work for anyone less tall and slender than the retailer’s model?

I think you have to try on cardigans with a good weight so they fall well despite the waist on the jeans. And I think you have to expect to buy one or two sizes up from your regular size. The top has to be the fluid contrast with the structured jeans.

Use pattern to big up the top too. Heavy cable looks great against jeans. So do those collared ethnic cardigans – but no, do not tie that belt unless you’re taller than the average.

My favorite long cardigans from US retailers

My favorite long cardigans from UK retailers

What to read next …

A Fall Capsule Wardrobe 2023 at 74

Ponchos and Ruanas, How to Wear Them Over 50

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