Cardigans are one of the more divisive garments in the world of men’s clothing.
Okay, that might make things sound a little more serious than they are but the fact is when most people think of cardigans they probably think of good ole’ Mr. Rogers.
And he wasn’t exactly a big guy.
So can fat guys and big dudes make cardigans work?
Heck yeah, they can!
But as with anything else, fat guys and big dudes need to make a few more style considerations before they dive right in.
In most cases, bigger guys will want to avoid a deeper v-cut that’s common with cardigans and instead opt for a more natural cut or a collar that gives the cardigan a more masculine look. Additionally, bigger guys will want to avoid cardigans that are too snug as many of these can have a bit of a taper to them. Both of these common cardigan features can appear feminine on a bigger guy’s body.
We’ll dive deep into everything you need to know about picking out the perfect cardigan but if you want to just skip ahead and see what made the list you can see our favorites here:
- Best Overall: KingSize Men’s Big & Tall Shaker Knit Zip-Front Cardigan
- Best Sizing Options: KingSize Men’s Big & Tall Shaker Knit Shawl-Collar Cardigan Sweater
- Best Classic Cardigan: Harriton Pilbloc V-Neck Button Cardigan Sweater
- Best Striped Cardigan For Big Guys: Knockout Jeans Big and Tall Striped Cardigan Sweater
- Best Cashmere Blend For Fat Guys: Kallspin Men’s Cardigan Sweater
- Most Unique: KEEYO Men’s African Button Up Cardigan
Now let’s get started!
Let’s Define A Cardigan
Fashion is confusing.
The addition or subtraction of a button in the wrong spot and all of sudden you’re dealing with a completely different type of garment. So let’s make sure we’re using the same working definition for what a cardigan is before we dive into the rest of the info.
A cardigan is a long-sleeve, knitted garment similar to a sweater. But unlike a sweater, a cardigan is open on the front and includes several buttons, toggles, or even a zipper for closure. When it comes to buttons and toggles, there is usually significant spacing between each closure.
While some folks would exclude zippered cardigans from the traditional definition, we think this is a travesty. After all, the legendary Mr. Rogers wore a zipper cardigan and he pretty much put this garment on the map. So the zipper stays.
Said another way, a cardigan is a sort of jacket and sweater combination. You take the more formal knit style of a sweater and combine it with an open face jacket and you’ve got a cardigan.
Now you know exactly what you’re getting into for the rest of this article.
What Should Fat Guys Look For In A Cardigan?
There’s a good reason why cardigans aren’t as popular as other clothing for fat guys- this look can be a little difficult to pull off.
But just like any other style, it can absolutely work for big guys with the right considerations so let’s break down what big dudes need to look for. One of our main concerns is avoiding a look that comes off as too feminine since many common features of cardigans for men are also shared with the versions made for women.
Keep in mind, these are also the same criteria I used to decide which cardigans made the list and which ones didn’t.
Mind The Deep V Neck
Let’s talk about v-necks.
Most of the time, fat guys try to avoid the v-neck and it’s sometimes a good idea. Now, I’m going to be the first to say that fat guys can look good in a v-neck garment but it needs to be done right.
When it comes to t-shirts, a mild v-neck is definitely best as it can quickly start to look effeminate. When it comes to big guys and tank tops, it’s a no-go.
However, cardigans play by different rules.
Of course, a cardigan can also end up looking effeminate especially when you consider that cardigans are made with an emphasis towards both males and females. In other words, if you rock a deep v-neck with some man boobs it could look like you just grabbed something off the woman’s rack. Not great.
But the big difference is that you’re going to be wearing a shirt underneath and that can go a long way to offset the look of a v-neck. On top of that, cardigans have a wide range of v-neck styles with some of them being very deep and narrow. A deep and narrow v-neck is quite different from a wide v neck which quickly starts to look like a women’s garment.
So what’s the takeaway here?
If you carry a lot of your weight in your chest, it’s usually a good idea to play it safe and go for cardigans that use a more traditional collar. When it comes to cardigans, that means either a zipper or button that runs all the way up.
Another good option for any fat guy is a shawl-style collar which is a turned-over collar that ends up looking thicker. These collars break up the v-neck and make it look thinner.
That way you end up with a very deep but also very thin v-neck which prevents an accidental effeminate look. You can see a great example of this collar on this cardigan which is also one of my favorites and our pick for best sizing choices.
Your last choice is the traditional cardigan which can work for fat guys but if you’re not sure or you’re worried about some moob action then you can skip these.
We have a little of everything on this list but I’ve focused on traditional and shawl-style collars since they work best for most big guys.
Go For A Loose Fit
One of the big problems with cardigans, and why big dudes usually avoid them, is that they tend to accentuate the girth in the midsection. That’s because cardigans don’t hang loosely like an untucked dress shirt or even a polo shirt and instead they can hug your belly which makes it look bigger. This is especially true for thicker, chunkier knits.
You have a few options here.
First, we’ll look for looser fits that don’t hug our bellies. These could simply be the way these cardigans are made or because they’re made of thinner material.
Second, we can rock the open cardigan look. You might think that this will “frame” your belly on either side but instead, it will help even out your frame and give you the look of being big and not just fat.
Long Line Cardigans Are Out For Big Guys
Longline cardigans look like a normal cardigan… except for the fact that they run all the way down somewhere between your butt and knees.
Everyone will have their own style preferences but in most cases, I’d advise big guys to avoid this style of cardigan since it’s quite a feminine look. Depending on where you carry your weight throwing on a long line cardigan will look distinctly unmasculine.
Jacked dudes or slim athletic types may be able to pull this look off but even then it’s a level of fashion that’s beyond the scope of this article. I’m here to make fat guys look darn good- not win any style awards so we’ll stick with the basics and just include more traditional cuts.
Skip The Big Buttons
You’ll find both buttons, zippers and toggle-style closures on this list but we’re going to limit jumbo-sized or extra-large button closures. These can work for fat guys but depending on the rest of the cardigan and the overall outfit, these buttons can quickly create a more feminine look.
Best Cardigans For Fat Guys
Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s look at the best cardigans for fat guys starting with our pick for best overall.
Best Overall: KingSize Men’s Big & Tall Shaker Knit Zip-Front Cardigan
- Available in sizes up to 8XL
- 6 color options to work with
- Very budget-friendly
- Simple, classic collar is a great choice for big guys
Our best overall pick has everything big guys look for in a cardigan even if it’s a bit on the non-traditional side with a zipper closure.
But for fat guys, that can actually be a good thing.
First, a zipper means you don’t have to worry about that strained button look that can happen when cardigans are too tight on your belly. Second, a zipper also comes with a more traditional collar so you don’t have to worry about finding the right depth for your v-neck. Third, zipper closures gives the cardigan a more casual look which means you can get a lot more mileage out of this garment.
Still, it takes more than a zipper to grab the best overall spot from us.
When you throw in sizing options up to 8XL (including tall options), 6 different color options, and pricing that’s very easy on the budget it’s easy to see why this should be the first cardigan you check out.
Of course, the zipper isn’t for everyone, and if you have a more formal event to attend I suggest you check out some of the other more traditional cardigans below.
But if you like the look and feel of a more traditional shirt or sweater with all the class of a cardigan you can check out more reviews for this cardigan from King Size along with the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Sizing Options: KingSize Men’s Big & Tall Shaker Knit Shawl-Collar Cardigan Sweater
- Sizing choices up to 9XL
- 7 color choices
- Shawl-collar looks great especially when the cardigan is left open
When it comes to finding the best sizing options, the folks at King Size deliver again. We’ve seen this brand several times, including on our list of the best sweaters for fat guys, so it’s no surprise to see them again.
Not only do they offer great clothing but it’s available in sizes that are large enough for big dudes and this classy cardigan is no different. Available up to 9XL, this cardigan is big enough that most guys will be able to find something that works or just pick up something with a looser style.
Once you find a size that works, you can also double down with 7 different color options to pick from.
However, this cardigan does partially break the deep v-neck rule but opening this cardigan up looks great so we’re bending the rule a bit here. Because of the thicker, shawl-style color this cardigan looks great left open and still doesn’t come off as too casual. Just make sure you match it with a nice belt if you’re leaving it open.
Keeping it closed levels up the formality but make sure you’re wearing a nicer shirt underneath to complete the look. The longer V-neck is also balanced out by the shawl collar which can help elongate your face and offset any negative effects of a deeper v-neck.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that this cardigan is made from 100% acrylic. That does help bring the price down but not all guys will be stoked about synthetic fabric. However, I have no problem recommending acrylic since it’s less likely to bunch up on your belly and helps keep the price down
It also helps that there are more than 350 five-star reviews backing this cardigan up. You can read some of those reviews and check the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Classic Cardigan: Harriton Pilbloc V-Neck Button Cardigan Sweater
- Available in sizes up to 6XL
- 10 collar options including many classic cardigan colors
- Easy on the budget
Sometimes, you just want to stick with the classics and this simple cardigan from Harriton does exactly that.
You won’t find any fancy collars, closures, or elaborate knitting here. But you will find a comfortable, easy-on-the-budget cardigan with sizes up to 6XL for big guys. It isn’t as deep of a v-neck as Mr. Rogers would have rocked but beyond that, it’s pretty darn close.
This isn’t a cardigan that you’d want to wear with a simple t-shirt and because of the deeper v-neck, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing a collar along with this cardigan. At least, that’s assuming you’re going with the fully closed look and if you open all the buttons you can get away with a less formal garment underneath.
The only possible downside here is the acrylic fabric. There’s nothing wrong with acrylic fabric and it does help bring the price down but some guys simply won’t like the feel of it. Still, considering that this cardigan isn’t likely to ever actually touch your skin (on account of your undershirt) it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
You take a closer look at all 10 colors, the many 5-star reviews, and of course today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Striped Cardigan For Big Guys: Knockout Jeans Big and Tall Men’s Striped Cardigan Sweater with Button Closure
- Big and tall sizing up to 5XL
- Unique stripped look that's not common with cardigan to help big guys with extra style
- Made from 100% cotton for extra comfort
Yes, big guys can not only wear stripes but they can look darn good in them too! If you want to learn more, I’ve written extensively on why the fashion trend that suggests fat guys avoid stripes is false.
But back to this cardigan.
Made from 100% cotton, this cardigan is not only comfortable but surprisingly easy on the budget. You’ll also find sizing up to 5XL so that most big guys can still go for a looser look.
The buttons are well-placed and well-sized so that they don’t cross the line into feminine but still appear stylish. The stripes are thick and bold, which I love, and while not every guy is going to be ready to rock the bold khaki and brown combination the olive and off-white is much more subtle.
The olive and off-white combination will also pair with just about any type of pants including jeans or khakis.
The front pockets are going to be hit or miss for some guys even though they are very subtle. However, they’re not really very functional for big guys since a big belly along with anything in the pockets (besides a few pieces of paper) will end up looking a bit strange.
Still, this cardigan is worth checking out and one of the few options that big guys have when it comes to stripes. You can check out some of the reviews and today’s prices on Amazon by clicking here.
Best Cashmere Blend For Fat Guys: Kallspin Men’s Cardigan Sweater
- Sizes available up to 4XL
- 12 different color and pattern combinations
- Easy on the budget considering the material
Cashmere is the cream of the crop when it comes to cardigans…but it’s also crazy expensive.
If that wasn’t enough, it’s also almost impossible to find big and tall sizing options in a cashmere cardigan.
That’s why I usually suggest going for a cashmere blend, especially one that has wool in it. Not only will you save a ton compared to the real thing but you’ll still get the comfort and stylish look of cashmere at a price that isn’t going to break the bank.
And that’s exactly where this great-looking cardigan from Kallspin comes into the picture and it’s available in up to 4XL along with 12 different colors.
The combination of the cut and fabric blend also gives this a much more formal look which is often what you want from a cardigan. But you still have the option of leaving it open and sporting a more casual look if you need to match the style of the occasion.
The fabric combination of wool, cashmere and synthetic fabrics is also lightweight but will still keep you warm. After all, we aren’t just wearing our cardigan to look good and we need to protect ourselves from the weather too.
While you do have 12 colors to choose from, you’re not going to find anything too crazy here and all the colors will line up with the classic look you’d expect from a cardigan.
Keep in mind, there is a deep v-neck here so you will need to wear a nice shirt underneath. Every big guy is different but if you carry a lot of your weight in your chest, then going for a v-neck this deep might not be a good play and instead, you should check out one of the higher closure options
But if you’re ready to rock the deep v-neck and a great cardigan you can check out all 12 colors, read more reviews and see today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Most Unique Cardigan For Fat Dudes: KEEYO Men’s African Button Up Cardigan
- Sizes available up to 5XL
- 4 super unique designs
- Great collar design for big guys
Sometimes, clothing for fat guys can be a little boring.
You’re usually stuck with solid color options and left picking what fits instead of prioritizing what looks good. Sure, you mix things up with a quality pair of suspenders but when it comes to colors you’re often limited.
That’s not going to be the case with this awesome cardigan from KEEYO which features eye-catching blends focused on blue, red, or yellow. It’s not what I would pick for a highly formal occasion but it’s a great choice for daily wear.
When it comes to working for big guys, you have sizing options up to 5XL but keep in mind that this particular cardigan can run on the small side so make sure to give yourself at least 1 size of room and even more if you prefer a looser fit.
Beyond the unique look, which is what really makes this cardigan stand out, I’m a big fan of the collar design. It’s technically a deep V but the shawl collar is so thick that it make the cut appear very narrow.
As a result, you get the best of both worlds with a look between a v-neck and a traditional collar.
At the time of writing, there aren’t many reviews on Amazon and it’s a newer product to the platform but that just means you’ll be one of the only dudes rocking this look!
You can take a closer look at the design, see the full measurement table and check today’s price on Amazon by clicking here.
Cardigans are a great choice for fat guys and big dudes but they’re often passed up. In many cases, I think this has to do with the deep v-neck that can turn bad if it’s not styled appropriately.
But not only can a fat guy make a deep v look great, but they can also do so a lot easier than you think.
Even if that’s not your thing, you still have plenty of cardigan options that either use a shawl collar to minimize the v-neck look or use a more traditional collar altogether.
No matter what your preference, fat guys can find a great cardigan that works for their body type.
What do you think? Did you find one you liked?