What is the Difference Between a Cardigan and a Sweater

Nov 15th 2021

If your workplace can get a bit chilly or you just want to add another layer of style and personality to your school uniform, a sweater can do the trick - but a cardigan could too. That might have you wondering what's the difference between a cardigan and sweater. Find out here from the uniform apparel experts at Sharper Uniforms.

Definition of a Sweater

A sweater is the catch-all term for any type of knitted top. While some sweaters may be oversized, others can be lightweight. Sweaters are common components in many uniforms, as they provide warmth and added style while keeping with the brand image.

Sweaters are further categorized by different types with the various kinds known for specific styling and design elements. Here's where the cardigan comes in, but let's start with a quick overview of different sweater types:

  • Pullover sweater: Type of sweater that must be pulled over your head to be put on and worn such as this ladies' cotton cable sweater.
  • Crewneck sweater: Pullover with a rounded neckline that's close to the neck with typically enough room for the top of a button-down collar to be seen.
  • V-neck sweater: Pullover with a V-shaped neck like this cotton V neckline sweater. It provides a professional look, particularly under a sporty jacket.
  • Sweater vest: Sleeveless pullover or zippered sweater vest that typically has a V-style neckline. This type of sweater looks sharp while giving more layering options.
  • Cardigan: Unlike pullovers, cardigans have an open front and can be put on the same way you would put on a jacket.

Sweaters vs. Cardigans

Cardigans are sweaters that open in the front, yet many of them have some type of closure so you can take full advantage of the warmth and style they provide. Buttons are one of the most common closure types for cardigans, as in this classic V-neck cardigan often seen in school apparel. You can also find zippers, snaps, eyehooks or other types of fasteners. Still other cardigans may have no closures in the front because they are designed to be left hanging open.

A cardigan with some type of closure tends to provide the most professional look, giving you a neat and put-together appearance much like a standard sweater while also offering the ability to leave the cardigan open or partially closed. On the other hand, most styles of sweaters don't open fully in front, though some have a partial opening at the collar like this unisex contrasting collar quarter-zip sweater.

When considering the differences between a cardigan and a sweater for your uniform, the deciding factors should be based in your needs.

Benefits of a Cardigan Sweater

One of the reasons cardigans are among the most popular sweaters for uniforms is the ease with which they can be taken on and off. Rather than pulling them on or off over your head, you can slip into them. This is particularly useful if you work an environment that has temperature changes, as you can quickly and add or remove a cardigan without hassle. They also offer versatility in closure options. Classic cardigans come with traditionally professional buttons while zipper cardigans generally provide a sportier appearance.

Benefits of Sweaters

Sweaters maintain a professional and kempt appearance without requiring different parts, such as buttons or zippers. They also provide a greater range of neckline options from Y-neck to V-neck to a crewneck sweater, so the impression it gives can vary to suit more brand styles.

Start at Sharper Uniforms

ladies' cotton cable sweater

Now that you're clear on the difference between a cardigan and a sweater, all you need to do is choose the style and features that work best for you. Browse through the selection of sweater styles at Sharper Uniforms and add your logo with high-quality embroidery, screen printing or heat seal transfer.