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Good travel cardigan

I am going to Italy in May and I see that it is recommended to bring a cardigan. I am not very knowledgeable on fabric types, so I would appreciate tips on a light cardigan that resists wrinkles (if there is such a thing!). Thanks!

Posted by
8293 posts

I have a couple of LL Bean cotton knit cardigans which are useful and do not wrinkle. I usually take one of them when I travel.

Posted by
7638 posts

You want an acrylic cardigan or crew or v-neck sweater. you can search those terms in Google or Macy's OR Amazon to see what fits your style price range

Posted by
4498 posts

I will disagree strongly with Jazz. The last thing a lady wants is any type of pullover sweater, since you will only want it for layering on a cool morning or evening. Or to throw over your shoulders in a chilly restaurant. They may be OK for men, but ladies don't want to mess up their hair.

And I would opt for a natural fiber in a thin knit. I prefer cotton for ease of care, but a fine wool would work as well. I hate most acrylic knits because of their habit of pilling. Wrinkling shouldn't be a problem as long as they're properly rolled up. I brought 2 on my 3 week trip last fall (I found I wore them for at least a part of most days). If you're only bringing one, get a dark colour.

Posted by
7638 posts

I will disagree strongly with Jazz

I was giving recommendations to a non-picky guy I thought...

Posted by
418 posts

If a cardigan is recommended for May it will be for warmth on some unexpectedly cool day or when sitting outside late into the evening. Cotton won't be warm enough and will take a long time to dry if it gets wet. I'd suggest cashmere or at least merino: they could well be lighter in weight than cotton and much warmer and less crushable.

Posted by
914 posts


Like some others, I’m not sure whether we’re talking sweaters for a woman or man, but if a woman, please check out Eddie Bauer’s Christine cardigan. I have two and have had luck with both the crew neck and v-neck style. I’m tall and like that both EB and Banana Republic typically have longer sleeves than a lot of other retailers.

Posted by
15123 posts

In another thread the OP refers to her husband.

And I agree with the above about the Christine cardigan from Eddie Bauer. I believe it is cotton and nylonl ( maybe with some Spandex) and they are cut longish. I have two, both purchased with deep discounts common at EB, so they each cost me less than $20! But the color choice is very limited compared to the Lands End Supima sweater.

I see nothing at all wrong with cotton for a summer sweater. It is lightweight, breathable, and not too warm for Italy. It is unlikely to get wet when used as the OP intends, for layering on cool evenings. I assume if rain threatened she would opt for a rain jacket instead.

I do love lightweight merino and wear it is summer myself, in short sleeves. But here in the US it costs about triple the cost of cotton.

Posted by
6479 posts

I wore a black lightweight cotton blend cardigan sweater for cool mornings in Paris. Sometimes I pack an open-weave acrylic sweater which looks nice over dresses in the morning or cooler evenings.

Posted by
39 posts

Thanks everyone for your responses. You know I never thought to say that I am a women! I can see where that might be helpful :)

Posted by
13251 posts

I’ll throw in another vote for the Lands End supima cardies.

My travel wardrobe is based around 2 LE cardies, black and the last few trips cobalt plus the Lands End layering Tees made of cotton and modal. The sweaters I can go for a month without really doing a full wash, maybe just some spot cleaning. The Tees dry overnight in most cases. I usually take black and cobalt Tees so I’ve got sort of a twin set which looks a little dressier ( I am the world’s most casual traveler!) plus usually a white tee and another color. Sometimes I take a couple of wool tees too, but I wouldn’t for Italy.

The Lands End cardies are machine washable and keep their shape. I do not like the buttons on the one I got last year but since I’ve done nothing to replace them I guess I’m adjusting, hahaha!!

Posted by
996 posts

I've ordered sweaters from a lot of places. My favorite one came from Woolrich but Lands End also has some nice ones.

My second favorite sweater (which lasted for years) actually came from Target. So YMMV on this subject. I prefer natural fibers. I am also picky about how tight the sleeves on a sweater feel. I'm a pain to fit in a sweater, and if I find something that works, I'll pay extra to get another one just for that reason.

You will probably need a sweater in Italy at that time of year, but you probably won't need it all day. I'd think something in the light layers department.

Posted by
25613 posts

Rather than a sweater (though I've bought a light Merino wool one for potential use), I've been using a black fleece jacket that zips. It does present a somewhat more casual appearance, and it would most likely look odd with a dress or skirt. In conjunction with an unlined (non-breathable, unfortunately) waterproof/windproof jacket, it was plenty warm enough for over two months in Normandy, Brittany, southern England and Wales, ending on September 18, as well as for early May along the Riviera.

I confess that if I'm carrying the fleece jacket and don't need it, I often tie the sleeves around my waist--something I wouldn't want to do to a nice sweater. It makes for quite the stylish look (not).

Posted by
5697 posts

Costco had some nice merino cardigans several months back -- I ended up with three(!) But, like most things Costco, you gotta get them before they go away.

Posted by
9142 posts

I have two favorites that I bring with me most of the time - a light cotton one, and a light wool one. The wool one stays home only in the height of summer. Otherwise I find them both useful most of the time!

Posted by
3956 posts

No need to overthink. A cardigan is a cardigan, whether travelling or at home. It can button; it can zip; it can be thrown around the shoulders loose. Gender has nothing to do with it, or no more than you make it. (I'm wearing a lightweight one right now, unbuttoned, looking like an old man, which is what I am.) Cotton or cotton blends are fine but I am sure wool might appeal to some. Go to a clothing store, high-end or shopping mall, and take a look. Spend what you want. Easy. Enjoy the trip, too.
Oh, PS: It is an inadequate substitute for a jacket, especially in the rain.

Posted by
13251 posts

Just thought of something to add. If you do decide to go with Lands End, sign up for their emails, then put the sweater in the cart and close out the page. Wait. You’ll usually get a Have you forgotten something email in 24-48 hours with a code for a percentage off or you’ll get a daily email with 30-40% off.

Posted by
3528 posts

Another vote for Lands End. Also I have a few cardies with cotton/rayon blend which don't wrinkle.

Posted by
2766 posts

I would go with whatever lightweight cotton one you find. The key is thin - not a heavy sweater knit. At least for me, I carry it with me during the day if temps are variable and so I need it to be light and easy to carry around.

But you don’t need a cardigan if you don’t like them! The reason they are suggested is twofold - if it’s colder you might want a light item that is easily put on/removed to wear over your normal shirt to give a bit of warmth AND if you wear sleeveless tops you need something to cover your shoulders in churches. Other items could serve these purposes if you prefer - a jacket, blazer, pashmina or large scarf, zip up sweatshirt, blouse worn unbuttoned over a shirt, shawl, whatever fits your needs. In summer I will have a scarf instead of a cardigan. And a few times I took a button up denim blouse for this purpose.

Posted by
1194 posts

Please do NOT get a cotton cardigan as some have recommended. Cotton becomes useless when wet. Cotton take forever to dry unless it is thin (making it useless as a cardi). You want something multi use that you can wash as needed.
Consider merino or synthetic instead.
I’ve had decent luck with the Uniqlo medium weight merino cardigan.
Stay away from thicker, heavier weight sweaters. You can only wear those when it’s really cold. Instead, go for a combination of a lighter weight cardi with a thin silk tank top as an underwear base. If it gets too warm then take the tank off and slip it into a quart sized zip lock.

These are cheap enough that you won’t mind bashing them up

Posted by
2560 posts

I found my perfect travel cardigan entirely by chance at the Nordstrom Rack--navy blue, by Michael Kors, zips to mid-torso (perfect as I like to wear a scarf), has long sleeves that can be rolled and secured with a button tab, shirt-tail hem, cotton and viscose blend. It's incredibly flattering, light-weight but adds the perfect layer and washes easily. I was able to also find it in black, so I'm set for my cardigan needs.