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Cardigan vs. Sweater: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A cardigan is an open-front, knitted sweater that can be buttoned or tied, while a sweater is a general term for a knitted top, typically pullover style, worn for warmth.
Cardigan vs. Sweater

Key Differences

Cardigans feature an open front that can be buttoned or tied, offering a versatile style. Sweaters, in contrast, are typically pullovers without an open front, designed to be worn by pulling over the head.
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Dec 01, 2023
The design of a cardigan often includes buttons, zippers, or ties, making it adjustable for different looks and temperatures. Sweaters lack these fastenings, offering a simpler, more streamlined design.
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Dec 01, 2023
Cardigans can vary from lightweight to heavy, suitable for different seasons, and are often used as a layering piece. Sweaters are primarily designed for warmth and are usually worn directly over a base layer.
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Dec 01, 2023
In terms of versatility, cardigans can be easily put on or taken off without disturbing the hairstyle or makeup, making them a practical choice. Sweaters, being pullovers, do not offer this convenience.
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Dec 01, 2023
The origin of the term cardigan is attributed to James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan, while the term sweater is derived from its original purpose of inducing sweat for weight loss.
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Comparison Chart

Style

Open front, can be buttoned or tied
Typically a pullover without an open front
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Dec 01, 2023

Design Features

Buttons, zippers, or ties
No fastenings, simpler design
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Dec 01, 2023

Function

Versatile, used for layering
Primarily for warmth
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Ease of Wearing

Easy to put on and take off
Requires pulling over the head
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Dec 01, 2023

Origin of Term

Named after the Earl of Cardigan
Named for its original use to induce sweat
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Cardigan and Sweater Definitions

Cardigan

Open-front Knit Garment
She wore a light cardigan over her dress.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Sweater

Knitted Garment for Upper Body
He pulled on a cozy sweater as it got chilly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Cardigan

Versatile Layering Piece
A cardigan is perfect for transitional weather.
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Nov 27, 2023

Sweater

Designed for Warmth
Sweaters are essential for cold weather.
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Nov 27, 2023

Cardigan

Buttoned or Tied Sweater
His cardigan had stylish wooden buttons.
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Nov 27, 2023
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Sweater

Originated for Athletic Use
Initially, sweaters were worn by athletes to sweat.
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Nov 27, 2023

Cardigan

Can Range from Light to Heavy
She knitted a heavy wool cardigan for winter.
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Nov 27, 2023

Sweater

Can be Made from Various Yarns
She prefers cashmere sweaters for their softness.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Cardigan

Named After Earl of Cardigan
The cardigan has a rich history dating back to the 19th century.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Sweater

Typically a Pullover
Her favorite sweater was a thick, cable-knit pullover.
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Shumaila Saeed
Nov 27, 2023

Cardigan

A knitted garment, such as a sweater or jacket, that opens down the full length of the front.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

A garment for the upper body of wool, cotton, or synthetic yarn, typically knitted, having long sleeves, and worn in cold weather.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Cardigan

A type of sweater or jumper that fastens up the front with buttons or a zipper, usually machine- or hand-knitted from wool.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

One that sweats, especially profusely.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cardigan

A warm jacket of knit worsted with or without sleeves, especially a knitted jacket with sleeves that is fastened up the front with buttons or a zipper.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

Something that induces sweating; a sudorific.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cardigan

A slightly bow-legged variety of corgi having rounded ears and a long tail.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

A knitted jacket or jersey, usually of thick wool, worn by athletes before or after exercise.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cardigan

Knitted jacket that is fastened up the front with buttons or a zipper
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

(US) A similar garment worn for warmth.
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Oct 19, 2023

Cardigan

Slightly bow-legged variety of corgi having rounded ears and a long tail
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

One who sweats (produces sweat).
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

One who or that which causes to sweat.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

A diaphoretic remedy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

(historical) An exploitative middleman who subcontracted piece work in the tailoring trade.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

(archaic) One who sweats coins, i.e. removes small portions by shaking them.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

A London street ruffian in Queen Anne's time who prodded weak passengers with his sword-point.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

(transitive) To dress in a sweater.
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

One who sweats.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

One who, or that which, causes to sweat
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

A crocheted or knitted garment covering the upper part of the body
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Oct 19, 2023

Sweater

A person who perspires
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Oct 19, 2023

Repeatedly Asked Queries

What defines a cardigan?

A cardigan is a knit garment with an open front, often with buttons or ties.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Can sweaters have zippers?

Yes, some sweaters, especially cardigans, can have zippers.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

What is the main purpose of a sweater?

Sweaters are designed primarily for warmth.
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Dec 01, 2023

Are all sweaters pullovers?

No, while many are pullovers, there are also cardigan-style sweaters.
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Dec 01, 2023

What materials are cardigans made from?

Cardigans can be made from wool, cotton, cashmere, or synthetic fibers.
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Dec 01, 2023

What occasions are cardigans suitable for?

Cardigans are versatile and can be worn on casual or formal occasions.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Can a sweater be a cardigan?

Yes, a cardigan is a type of sweater.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Can cardigans be formal?

Yes, some cardigans are designed for formal wear.
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Dec 01, 2023

Can sweaters be sleeveless?

Yes, there are sleeveless varieties, often called sweater vests.
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Dec 01, 2023

What's the difference in warmth between the two?

This largely depends on the material and design, but generally, sweaters are warmer due to their closed design.
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Dec 01, 2023

Is a hoodie considered a sweater?

Hoodies are a type of sweater, often with a hood and front pocket.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Are sweaters always knitted?

Most sweaters are knitted, but some are made using other textile techniques.
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Dec 01, 2023

Do cardigans have collars?

Some do, ranging from shawl collars to traditional collars.
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Dec 01, 2023

What's the difference in maintenance between the two?

Both require similar care, often needing gentle washing and air drying, but specific care depends on the material.
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Are cardigans suitable for summer?

Lightweight cardigans can be suitable for cooler summer evenings.
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Dec 01, 2023

Are there any specific styles of cardigans?

Yes, including classic, chunky, boyfriend, and shawl cardigans.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Can sweaters have open fronts like cardigans?

If a sweater has an open front, it's typically categorized as a cardigan.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Are cardigans unisex?

Yes, cardigans are worn by all genders.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

Do cardigans come in different lengths?

Yes, cardigans can be waist-length, hip-length, or longer.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 01, 2023

How do sweaters fit into fashion trends?

Sweaters are timeless pieces that adapt to various fashion trends.
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Dec 01, 2023

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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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