Outfit Formulas Outfit Planning

Cardigans vs. Jackets

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of using jackets to complete a fairly simple outfit, as evidenced in my most recent Foolproof Outfit Formula post. But I think I might be in the minority in my preference of jackets to cardigans. Don’t get me wrong, I do like cardigans too! I’ve posted plenty of outfits with those over the years, and they generally perform better on Pinterest than my jacket outfits. So maybe a better way to say this would be that I’m probably a little more drawn to jacket outfits vs. cardigan outfits than the average woman. For that reason, lately I’ve been trying to show an option for styling an outfit with both a jacket and cardigan option to complete a look.


These two outfits are exactly the same except for one detail: the completer piece! A black turtleneck, blue jeans, and boots…basic enough that most people probably have something similar to these in their closet. This combo would work with almost any cardigan or jacket layered on it, but I chose to wear it with my recent Christmas-gift-to-self, this Barefoot Dreams Cardigan in Rosewood. Since it was a splurge item I’m eager to start getting the cost-per-wear down while we have the weather that suits this type of thick and warm cardigan.


For a jacket option, I went with my utility jacket since it’s a fairly common wardrobe staple. My exact version was a Maurice’s find last year (sold out), but Amazon has a similar highly-rated option (with Prime Shipping of course!) for under $40. If I were shopping for this piece now that would be my first choice to try.

Since we’re on the topic of Cardigan vs. Jacket outfits, I pulled a few additional outfits from the archives for comparison. These aren’t identical-except-for-one-piece like the previous outfits since I didn’t plan on featuring them in a this vs. that post at the time I wore them! They have a few more detail changes like the shoes and accessories.  But they feature the same basic outfit base so I think they still make for good side-by-side comparisons.

For both of these outfits I wore my all-time favorite Foolproof Outfit Formula of black-on-black with a contrasting outer layer. I even went with black for both of the shoe selections since it does help give a longer line, and at 5’4″ I’ll take all the help I can get! But choosing a cardi vs. a jacket topper totally changes the look outfit. In this case I think the cardigan gives a little more casual and relaxed vibe than the jacket, but they’re both polished and complete.

Even though I’m wearing almost exactly the same things in both outfits, they still feel like two different outfits to me. And I love that because I don’t feel like I need two completely different sets of clothes to make two different outfits. Just some basic staple pieces and a few statement completer pieces!

This next example came from a fairly recent post in December, but December was not a big month for blog traffic so I’m guessing these outfits will still be new to a lot of people. Haha! In this case I wore the exact same top and jeans, but I changed two pieces (shoes and completer piece) to take this from a daytime to a date night look.

RIGHT: Similar Jacket | Cami | Similar Jeans | Boots (c/o) | Earrings

While I’ve always liked leopard print, I don’t usually wear this much in a single piece. I opt for smaller doses like a bag, belt or sandals. I was pushing my comfort zone a little with this top, but I found wearing it with a black layer on top (thus covering a good portion of the print) helped tone it down enough for me to be comfortable wearing it.

Switching the cardi and ankle boots for a moto jacket and OTK boots definitely changes the tone of this look! This next combo is strictly a date night look for me – not something I’d generally wear for a Target run! While I do wear OTK boots for daytime sometimes, I usually do it with more conservative pieces, like the cozy turtleneck outfit in this post
 Moto Jacket | Cami | Similar Jeans | Boots (c/o) | Earrings

My goal here is definitely not to state that one option is better than the other for any of these outfits. Obviously I like both cardigans and jackets and I wear them both for different occasions! It’s really just seeing and sharing the difference they can make as a completer piece for a similar outfit, and showing how easy it can be to transition an outfit from day to night or from casual to a little more dressy with minimal detail changes.

So now it’s your turn! Did you find that you preferred one option over another in these outfits almost every time? Or do you like them both about the same for different occasions? Do you tend to purchase more cardigans or jackets? I love chatting fashion and outfits with you all so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!

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