Which short sleeve cardigans are best?

The short sleeve cardigan is a multipurpose wardrobe staple that is great to wear to work, home or social events with friends and family. It can be dressed up or down, provides a little extra warmth and you can style it with bold statement jewelry like dangling or hoop earrings along with layered necklaces for impact.

The Made by Johnny Women’s Kimono Style Short Sleeve Dolman Cardigan is a lightweight cult-favorite kimono style short sleeve cardigan that is soft, stretchy, flowy and features a slightly asymmetrical hem for added flair.

What to know before you buy a short sleeve cardigan

Coordinating pieces

Short sleeve cardigans are meant to pair with a camisole, tank top or a dressier short sleeve shirt, often with some fine detailing like lace trim, a collared neckline or a button down. You shouldn’t wear a short sleeve cardigan over a long sleeve shirt unless you want the long sleeves to be visible under the shorter cardigan sleeve. Cardigans can also look restrictive when worn over a heavy turtleneck. When assembling a business wardrobe, cardigans work well with skirt sets and trousers for a more formal look or jeans and costume jewelry for a casual look.


Cardigans were traditionally seen as part of a more collegiate or preppy style, but that is no longer the case. Modern cardigans aren’t as stuffy as they once were and are a trendy item for 2022 if styled correctly. Loose cardigans provide an effortlessly chic vibe that is really popular right now and is expected to remain so. For a quaint cottage and picnic-inspired fashion aesthetic, shorter knit or acrylic cardigans are also still on trend and are best when worn open with a pair of faded jeans and sneakers.


Loose short sleeve cardigans, which are worn open with no button closures, are typically made predominantly of rayon with a small percentage of spandex for the stretch in the fabric. Some cardigans will also be acrylic for a lighter knit look, while chunky, heavier cardigans are usually a wool blend for a street-style vibe.

What to look for in a quality short sleeve cardigan


The fit of your short sleeve cardigan will depend on the style of cardigan you select and the overall look you desire. If you want a slouchy look, a loose and flowy cardigan in a lightweight material with a shawl neck or kimono style works well. Heavier knit cardigans with large button closures also suit the slouchy look but aren’t as widely available in a short sleeve. For a traditional vibe, a more form-fitting cardigan with a v-neck and a delicate button closure achieves the aesthetic easily.

Colors and prints

Short sleeve cardigans in bright colors, color blocking, floral prints and bold patterns have emerged as a trendy street-wear style in the past few years. That said, most cardigans for everyday wear are mostly available in shades of black, grey and white. This is because of their versatility, wearbility, how easily they coordinate with an existing wardrobe and their overall timelessness. A black cardigan will always be popular and can match any look you want. A very bold cardigan will be fun to wear at first but is much more likely to go out of style relatively quickly.


Short sleeve cardigans made of synthetic materials like rayon, spandex and acrylic blends are machine washable in cold water. Lay your cardigans flat or hang them to dry to prevent shrinking or pilling. You should not wash wool cardigans unless it has a wool cycle and you’re using special wool detergent. Never put a wool cardigan in the dryer.

How much you can expect to spend on a short sleeve cardigan

A short sleeve cardigan is usually an inexpensive and highly versatile item to add to your wardrobe, with most options costing anywhere from $18-$30 in a good-quality fabric.

Short sleeve cardigan FAQ

What’s the difference between a cardigan and a sweater?

A. The main difference between the two is that a cardigan is a garment that is designed to open down the front and is similar to a light jacket. On the other hand, a sweater is usually a heavier fabric that covers the upper body completely without a front opening.

Should my button-down cardigan be worn open or closed?

A. There is a fashion rule with regards to cardigans that refers to always, sometimes and never. In essence, when following this rule, you’ll button the middle button and the button both below and above it. However, it is an antiquated concept, and most cardigans are left completely open in modern fashion. It comes down to the look you’re trying to achieve, your comfort level and what you’re wearing underneath.

What are the best short sleeve cardigans to buy?

Top short sleeve cardigan

Made by Johnny Women’s Kimono Style Short Sleeve Dolman Cardigan

Made by Johnny Women’s Kimono Style Short Sleeve Dolman Cardigan

What you need to know: This lightweight and breezy kimono style cardigan from Made by Johnny is a gorgeous and budget-friendly piece that adds a lot of value and versatility to your wardrobe.

What you’ll love: The gentle stretchy fabric makes this cardigan a comfortable and trendy item that can be accessorized in dozens of different ways and is a nice outer layer in temperate weather that won’t cause overheating.

What you should consider: A small number of reviewers felt that the sizing was inaccurate for this cardigan.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top short sleeve cardigan for the money

Pastel by Vivienne Women’s Short Sleeved Open Front Vest

Pastel by Vivienne Women’s Short Sleeved Open Front Vest

What you need to know: This longer variation on the open-front vest cardigan from Pastel by Vivienne is a comfortable and trendy-casual item available in a wide variety of colors and sizes for an unbeatable price.

What you’ll love: This cardigan washes extremely well, is very soft and light, coordinates with so many different styles and suits all body types.

What you should consider: A few reviewers indicated that the fabric was a little thin.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Grace Karin Women’s Open Front Knit Cropped Bolero Shrug Cardigan

Grace Karin Women’s Open Front Knit Cropped Bolero Shrug Cardigan

What you need to know: This open-front knit cropped bolero from Grace Karin is a nice option for women looking for a multi-purpose sweater that you can wear in the quaint cottage-style fashion trend.

What you’ll love: This cardigan is available in many waist lengths, arm lengths, colors and sizes to suit your taste perfectly.

What you should consider: Due to this item’s immense popularity and low price point, it tends to sell out quickly.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Ashley Britten writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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