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Four easy cardigan alternatives

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Tuesday, October 02, 2012
It's cold out, and dressing in layers is about to become a necessity. I finally pulled all of my sweaters out from the under-the-bed Tupperware they have been living in since March. It's my favorite part of the seasons changing - and there's something about a seasonal break from your wardrobe that gives you perspective. And helps you purge. As I unpacked my winter box, I realized that something happened in the past six months that has made me detest cardigans. No offense to Jackie O, but they just look tired after awhile.

But if I gave away my cardigans, what would I wear with tank tops? Sleeveless dresses? Light blouses that just don't cut it in 50-degree weather?

Not to worry, I've completed some extremely important research on creative toppers that are far from plain Jane. Here are a few alternatives that are cozy and stylish!

(Above photo credits: Cropped jacket, $158 at SheInside; bouclĂ© peplum top, $50 at Topshop; Graphic No. 2 pencil skirt, $158 at J.Crew; Steve Madden fuchsia suede heels, $89.99 at Heels.com; Cambridge patent leather satchel, $140 at Asos; and Amrita Singh 18-karat gold-plated and resin bib necklace, $250 at Endless.)
Ok, so a shawl might be obvious, but most people wear them wrong! They are perfect when worn with a simple shift dress, and in a luxe fabric like silk, wool or linen. 

Cropped jacket, $158 at SheInside; bouclĂ© peplum top, $50 at Topshop; Graphic No. 2 pencil skirt, $158 at J.Crew; Steve Madden fuchsia suede heels, $89.99 at Heels.com; Cambridge patent leather satchel, $140 at Asos; and Amrita Singh 18-karat gold-plated and resin bib necklace, $250 at Endless.
Instead of wearing a cardigan over my sleeveless dresses, I've started layering tissue-thin turtlenecks underneath! You'd be amazed at the compliments I get for the minor little trade-out. It lets my dress be the star! Key is again to keep the overall shape simple, and stick to a monotone look - black turtleneck with black dress, gray turtleneck with gray dress, etc.

J.Crew stripe turtleneck, $45 at Net-a-Porter; shift dress, $84 at Topshop; leopard pumps, $146 at AsosCommando sheer tights, $32 at Bergdorf Goodman; Orla Kiely wallet, $224.99 at Modcloth; Warhol glasses, $10 at OC Shades.

A kimono is the understated workhorse of layering warmth. I recently bought an amazing blue and cream silk kimono and LOVE wearing it with basics like skinny black jeans, a white tee and heels. It instantly dresses up an otherwise simple outfit. It's the ideal replacement for a cardigan!

Athena Procopiou silk kimono, $495 at Net-a-Porter; yellow tank top, $29 at SheInside; Blank NYC cropped leather jeans, $88 at Pink Mascara; Mini bag, $395 at Loeffler Randall; Sam Edelman D’Orsay pump, $120 at Shopbop; Commando sheer tights, $32 at Bergdorf Goodman; Danielle earrings in green, $55 at Kendra Scott; and pyramid ring, $5.50 at Wet Seal.

[Note: I originally published a version of this article on Washingtonian.]
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