Cardigans are a tried-and-true wardrobe staple.

How to Spice Up a Cardigan

by Esther Carlstone

Cardigans are a staple in every mom's closet, and for good reason. They're easy to layer over other clothes and add a nice pop of color to an otherwise bland outfit. But what if you're sick of that plain black cardi? Some simple style swaps -- from replacing buttons to adding trim -- will doll up your old standby in no time flat.

Add a Pin or Brooch

This may sound a bit simple -- and, in fact, it is. Pick out a favorite pin or brooch, and attach it to one side of your cardigan just slightly above your chest. If you really want to go all out, pin a collection of smaller brooches in a similar motif all in the same area.

Replace the Buttons

There's no faster way to update an old cardigan than by replacing the bland old buttons they came with. Snip off the originals and head to your nearest fabric or craft store. For maximum effect, opt for bright hues, fun metallics, textured versions or even buttons in unusual shapes. While you're there, be sure to pick up needle and thread to match your sweater's color.

Add Elbow Patches

Still jonesing for those so-old-it's-cool professor cardigans with the elbow patches? Lust no more. It's so much easier than you think to add on your own elbow patches to an existing sweater. Simply cut out the shape you want out of any fabric and color combination, and stitch them onto the elbows.

Add Some Trim

If you're not interested in sewing, a little fabric, scissors and hot glue can work wonders on a tired cardigan. Pick out any neon, lace, or patterned ribbon trim you want, cut it to the appropriate length of your sweater and carefully glue it just behind both openings of the cardigan. While you're at it, add some trim to the wrists as well. If you're looking for extra glam, shop at a bead store for crystals or stones; these can be sewn or glued as extra embellishment around the neck and shoulders. Voila -- an instant upgrade!

Style It

Even if DIY embellishments aren't your thing, there are a multitude of ways to style a cardigan in a unique fashion to give it new life. For a professional vibe, wear it as a jacket replacement with a belt around the middle, or try a romantic look by tying a ribbon around your waist. If you're heading out for lunch or an afternoon of shopping, drape the cardi around your shoulders. You'll ward off the chill while getting a fresh new look.

About the Author

Esther Carlstone is a writer and editor based in Los Angeles. She covers parenting, style, health, food and design and writes for sites such as, Savvy Sassy Moms, Spoonful, BabyZone, iVillage, ModernMom and Weekly Sauce. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA.

Photo Credits

  • Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images