Difference Between Cardigans and Sweaters
By Claire Miles - November 3, 2022

It is common for people to interchange the phrases ‘cardigan,’ and ‘sweater’ or to be unsure which is which. The mistake is reasonable given that the cardigan and the sweater are knitted clothing worn over the upper torso. They are also both longstanding winter outfits. However, they have some characteristics that set them apart from one another.

Table Summary

Usually worn as informal clothingTypically worn in more casual environments
It exists in a range of necklinesClassically designed as v-necks
Cozy fall sweaters folded and stacked up on table by window at bedroom

Getty Images / Moment / Carol Yepes


Sweaters are clothing that describes any upper-body garment composed of knitted fabric (rather than woven fabric). The sweater is mostly used in American English. In Australian English, for example, it is commonly referred to as a “jersey” or “jumper.”

Cardigans are knitted clothing that has a front opening. They fall under the sweater category. Cardigans are distinguished by the presence of a front space that may be closed with buttons or zippers. Most contemporary cardigans lack buttons or zippers and are made to hang open.

Sweaters VS Cardigans

To summarize, cardigans are sweaters, but not all sweaters are cardigans. The fundamental distinction between a cardigan and a sweater is the opening found in all cardigans. On the other hand, cardigans can be deemed more sophisticated and even office suitable (depending on the workplace’s requirements) while being quite casual and comfy – ideal for snuggling up with. Cotton, wool, and cashmere are the most frequent textiles used to make cardigans. A sweater is constructed with long sleeves that cover the arms. They are also often designed with enough space around the belly area to give additional warmth in cold conditions. Because of its ‘coziness,’ a sweater is considered an informal article of clothing and isn’t normally appropriate for the office unless there is a more relaxed dress code. These may also be worn as a layering piece since many people choose to put a tank top, camisole, or t-shirt below the sweater. Sweaters are more likely to come in a range of necklines, while Cardigans usually have v-necklines.