Look for: A sweater that hits just above or below the hips—not at the widest part. If you go long, opt for a draped style with an asymmetrical or rounded hem, which is more flattering than a straight line that cuts across the thighs, says Alison Guglielmo, a Chicago-based personal shopper.
Avoid: Cropped cardigans. And watch out for pulling across the hips.
Cardigan by Milly.
2 of 5Ryan Pfluger
If You Have Broad Shoulders
Look for: Embellishments (like a ruffled placket or beading) to direct the eye away from the shoulders. A thin, body-skimming knit that hits at the waist or the hips creates an hourglass figure instead of a blocky shape.
Avoid: Boatnecks, wide scoop necks, and epaulets, all of which emphasize the width of the shoulders.
Cardigan by Loft.
3 of 5Ryan Pfluger
If You Have a Large Bust
Look for: V-necks. “The diagonal lines have a slimming effect, and the buttons start lower, so there’s less pulling across the chest,” says Bridgette Raes, the author of Style Rx. To streamline the torso, choose a fine-gauge knit with a trim fit, says Susan White, the president of the knit label White + Warren.
Avoid: Crewnecks, chunky knits, and details at the bust. Steer clear of wide or dolman sleeves: “They blend in with the chest, making you seem bigger up top,” says Raes.
Cardigan by Shoshanna.
4 of 5Ryan Pfluger
If You Have a Tummy
Look for: Cardigans with a straight, “boyfriend-style” cut, as opposed to ones with a blouson shape that poufs out above the waistband. Choose a length that completely covers the midsection.
Avoid: “A belt or anything else that draws attention to the waist,” says Guglielmo. Short cardigans make the body look boxy.
Cardigan from Kohl’s.
5 of 5Ryan Pfluger
3 Annoying Problems and How to Solve Them
“I Love to Cinch My Cardigan, but the End of the Belt Sticks Out Awkwardly”
A flopping belt ruins this neat silhouette. Here’s how to tie up loose ends.
1. Use a ribbon instead. Tie a length of velvet or grosgrain around the slimmest part of your waist, then clip the ends to the ideal length (see right).
2. Tuck the end under the belt, but only if the belt is narrow or medium width. Or try a knot: Tuck the end under the belt, then slide the end into the slot between the buckle and the belt loop.
3. Try a Belt Loopy. This bendable loop slides on the end of your belt to hold it in place. It’s available in a range of colors and sizes, so there’s one to blend with any type of belt. (A set of four is $12 to $15; beltloopy.com.)
“My Cuffs Are Stretched Out Because I Push Up My Sleeves”
To reshape them: Wet only the cuffs with hot water. Tumble-dry the sweater on high in a mesh laundry bag until the cuffs are damp, not bone-dry. Lay the cardigan flat on a towel and pinch the cuffs back into shape. Then blast them with a blow dryer and—presto!—the openings will shrink up to half an inch. For a permanent solution, ask a tailor to sew round elastic into the undersides of the cuffs.
“Fuzz Balls, Snags, and Holes—Oh My!”
Tackle your cardigan’s most vicious enemies with these tips from Steve Boorstein, the host of the DVD Clothing Care: The Clothing Doctor’s Secrets to Taking Control! ($20, amazon.com).
Fuzz balls: Attack them with the Evercare Fabric Shaver ($6, kmart.com). Make sure to use it gently and sparingly, so you don’t thin out the knit or snag it.
Snags: Using a crochet needle, push the pulled thread through to the underside of the knit, then loosely knot the pull. For step-by-step details, watch our video “How To: Fix a Sweater Snag.”
Holes: Leave these to a pro, as not every tailor can handle this job properly. Send your sweater to KnitwearDoctor.com (repairs start at $20). Suspect moths are the culprit? To prevent further damage, dry-clean the cardigan before having it repaired.