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How a shawl-collar cardigan should fit

How a shawl-collar cardigan should fit

Is it just us, or has winter already overstayed its welcome? If you haven’t already, do yourself a favour and invest in a shawl-collar cardigan – it won’t shorten the season, but it will certainly help make the chill a bit more bearable. 

That’s because the knit of a shawl collar tends to be chunkier and warmer than your standard wool cardigan, making it the mid-layer to reach for on icy days. And when the temperature starts to rise? It works as an outer layer too. Wear it as an alternative to your bomber or Harrington jacket, or even over your suit instead of a blazer. Your co-workers will take notice, we promise.

It’s also incredibly versatile – use it to channel your inner country outdoorsman or stylish city slicker. (Bonus points if you nail both on the same weekend.) But unfortunately, none of this matters if you don’t ace the fit, so be sure to study up before you reach into your wardrobe.


A shawl-neck cardigan shouldn’t be too tight or slim fitting.The look has a grandad feel to it (in the best way possible), so it should be comfortable and slightly slouchy, without being oversized. Shawl-collars aren’t like a normal, thin cardigan that can be worn as a layer under other jackets, so it should have a relaxed look that is a little baggy rather than too stiff.


A shawl-collar cardigan should fall around your hips, or just below your belt. It shouldn’t be too long, as it will end up falling too loose and taking on the look of a bathrobe.


The collar is the key feature of a shawl-neck cardigan, so it should be substantial. Too skinny, and it won’t stand out from a regular cardigan, and therefore, won’t offer the versatility of the shawl cardigan’s jacket-like cut. Although wide and chunky, the collar should still fit flush to your neck and chest, whether you’re wearing a t-shirt or thicker layers underneath.


Your sleeves should be fitted around the shoulder with enough room for movement in the arm. They should fall to your wrist rather than over your hand, and should be baggy enough that they don’t bunch up on your forearm, but not so long that they look out of proportion to the length of the body.


A shawl-collar cardigan often features chunky buttons in wood or leather. There are double-breasted versions available, but single-breasted lends itself to a wider range of styles and outfits, and is easier to pull off without making too bold a statement.

Words: Ella White
Photography: Angus Williams
Styling: Freddie Kemp