We flock to breezy dresses, chic shorts, and stylish swimwear in the heat, but summer sweaters are the season’s unsung heroes. When planning a season full of heat-proof looks, knitwear, most likely, isn’t at the crux of said summer outfits. Instead, you likely gravitate toward tank tops, blouses, and white T-shirts to pair with linen bottoms, skirts, and summerweight denim. But summer cardigans and sweaters serve as that missing link to many an outfit, especially in coastal climates and places where the AC is on full blast.
When styling a sweater for summer, there are endless options. A long cardigan, whether a button-up or belted style, is so chic over shorts or a fluid slip dress. At the beach, a short-sleeve sweater or lightweight pullover is stylish over shorts or swimwear, be it an open weave, nautical stripe, or crocheted style. If it gets too warm, a sweater tossed over your shoulders exudes chic nonchalance. In place of a cotton tank, a sweater vest is achingly unexpected with loose-fitting denim or relaxed trousers. A show-of-shoulder sweater is the perfect reveal of skin for summer nights, especially when paired with tailored Bermuda or leather shorts and heels. Then, there’s the polo knit—a nostalgic trend thrust back into the spotlight, thanks to designers like Prada, Bottega Veneta, and Gabriela Hearst. This summer sweater reads both polished and relaxed when tucked into high-rise silhouettes and styled with summer jewels and a pair of sunglasses.
Now that we’ve proven the summer cardigan and sweater’s appeal, ahead, discover the seven styles we consider essential. From long cardigans to pullovers, short sleeve styles to wraps, ribbed to open weaves—all in cashmere, crochet, lightweight wool, and more—these knits will undoubtedly enhance your warm-weather wardrobe for breezy days by the sea and beyond.