What Is A Shrug?

what is a shrug

Wearing a shrug over an outfit is a fantastic way to up your style quotient. The shrug is one of those garments that score high on the style meter plus provide comfortable coverage. In this blog, we will throw light upon what is a shrug and what are some voguish ways to style its different types.

The shrug is the other name for the ultimate transitional dressing as it helps you to stay warm during the onset of spring. It keeps your arms covered, but the front is open that allows you to stay comfortably cool at the same time.

As you read further, you will get to know more about weather appropriate shrugs and how they make an outfit creation a breeze for you. 

Shrug Meaning

We are definitely not talking about the verb here that literally means raising and dropping your shoulders! To understand what is a shrug in clothing, we can say that it is a lightweight jacket that only covers the shoulders and arms.

The differentiating factor when it comes to shrug vs cardigan is that the former only covers the arms, shoulders, and upper back. 

A shrug is close fitted but unstructured, which means that it doesn’t have the padded shoulders and defined structure like a bolero jacket. Another name for shrug clothing can be a cropped cardigan, a shrug sweater jacket, or a knit shrug. 

Shrugs are highly versatile and can be paired with a variety of outfits. You can pair it with dresses, camisoles, and different types of tops and blouses. The best way to style a shrug garment is to either go with the exact same match or make an interesting contrast to bring up the appeal of your outfit. 

A shrug can be long or short. The length of sleeves may vary, and you can even find sleeveless shrugs to pair with full sleeved outfits. The good thing about the shrug is that it seamlessly fits into casual style as well as moderately formal styles.

So whether you want to rock the street style or a sleek, smart casual look, you can pull out a shrug from your wardrobe for that. 

Types of Shrug Sweaters

Since you now now what is a shrug, we can move on to the varying types of this trendy piece of clothing. There are various styles of shrugs, depending upon the material, sleeves, length, patterns and fits.

You can opt for heavy shrugs made of wool, velvet, or cashmere for fall and winter. Cotton, mesh, jersey, and ribbed shrugs are lightweight and breathable, perfect for summer and spring seasons.

Similarly, plain dark colored shrugs are an excellent option for colder months. While pastel colored or floral printed shrugs come in handy for layering summer outfits. A new variant of the shrug for fall/winter is like a knitted pullover sweater that is cropped from the upper front. 

Here are a few types of shrugs which got our approval for style. Besides helping you recognize the different types, we will suggest you some sensational outfit ideas with these shrugs. 

Shrugs for Dresses

Shrugs gel along well with all kinds of dresses, be it a long maxi dress, a flared cocktail dress, or a short blouson dress. For a printed dress, you can go for solid colored shrugs, and for plain dresses, you can opt for shrugs with attractive prints and patterns. You can also play with prints, like teaming up a check dress with a paisley cotton shrug. 

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Need a cropped cardigan outfit idea with a dress? Choose a black sleeveless midi dress with white floral print and pair a waist length black ribbed shrug with it. This is the perfect recipe for an all black spring outfit when you want to take a break from all the colors. Finish off the look with stylish black kitten heels and a silver statement necklace.
  2. A white mesh shrug will complement an ice blue pencil dress quite well. This look is perfect for a day-time engagement or cocktail party. 
  3. Feeling cold in a strapless maxi dress? That is what a shrug sweater is for. Just pick a shrug sweater in a neutral color complementing your dress and wear it to stay comfortably warm. 

Long Shrugs 

Shrugs that are longer in length can be used to layer fitted outfits. They give a very flattering silhouette. Their length may vary as some long shrugs fall just below the hips, while some may go down till the knees or even ankles. Depending upon their material and style, long shrugs are suited for casual, semi formal, and street style looks. 

If you have a curvy figure, a plus size leather jacket may be your first choice for layering an outfit, but you can also go for a long shrug. If you are opting for a fitted dress or a top, a long shrug will help you conceal the areas that you don’t want to reveal, such as the waistline. It gives you a sleeker silhouette. 

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Need to attend a wedding reception? Opt for a pale satin jumpsuit and layer it with a silver glittered or sequined shrug. Round off this elegant look with silver heels and delicate jewelry.
  2. Your white camisole maybe a simple piece, but you can bring its flair up by wearing it over a light blue boyfriend or mom jeans. Wear a breezy leopard print shrug with it for an added chic style. 

Crop Shrugs 

Short and stylish, cropped shrugs are a perfect way to add a layer at the workplace where the air conditioning seems a bit too much. The length of a cropped shrug may vary. Some are below the waistline, and some are so short that they barely cover the neckline and cover full arms. You can also find turtleneck style shrugs.

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Wear a grey tank top and black jeans. Get your hands on a black turtleneck cropped shrug to complete this look. 
  2. Pair a light pink maxi dress with a cropped red knit shrug for an ultra feminine look that is hard to ignore. Red heels will go well with this outfit. 

Shrug Vest Cardigan

As the name suggests, the shrug vest is a sleeveless cropped cardigan that gives a light extra layer and a very trendy look to your outfits. Wear it over simple jeans and t-shirt for a chic look. Or, choose one in a contrasting color and layer it over full sleeved tops and dresses to enhance the look of your clothes. 

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Wear a pink shrug vest cardigan over a full sleeved white floral print dress to add girl next door vibes to your ensemble. 
  2. Go for a beige crochet shrug vest over your black t-shirt and blue slim fit jeans to make this everyday attire instantly appealing. 

Shrug Shirts 

Shirt style shrugs are the ones that are shorter in length and connect on the front with the help of a button or hook. These shrugs look amazing with fitted tops and jeans. Shirt shrugs are available in flowy fabrics such as chiffon or net. 

Outfit Ideas:

  1. A very relaxed approach to style would be to team up a white t-shirt and navy blue jeans with a yellow crochet shirt shrug. Tie it on the front for a flattering appearance. 
  2. Demonstrate your strong side in a black and white printed top, and black flared pants. Layer the outfit with a black mesh shrug shirt. Round off the ensemble with brown suede ankle boots. 

Dress Shrugs 

A dress shrug is a long paneled shrug that can be fastened on the waistline. The shrug dress is a great way to transition from a casual jeans and t-shirt look to a gorgeous fashionista in an instant. 

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Over a simple white pencil dress, layer a purple glitter mesh shrug to instantly bring up the style meter. Wear some bling, earrings and sliver pumps, and go for a soft glam makeup look with this outfit. 
  2. Wear ripped blue jeans and a black turtle neck. Pair a lovely blue shrug dress with it for a splendid look. You can wear a belt on it to add further style. 

Cotton Shrugs 

For quick and super comfortable dressing up options in the hot weather, do consider buying a few cotton shrugs in solid colors. You can experiment with multiple colors and mix and match them with your outfits. Be it your breezy summer dresses or dressy blouses. Cotton shrugs will add fun to all of them effortlessly. 

Outfit Ideas:

  1. A navy blue cotton shrug and a grey halterneck dress look very smart when teamed together. This cute and simple outfit can be elevated by introducing a fedora hat and a boho style necklace. 
  2. You can also try a white cotton shrug with a pastel colored sweatshirt and blue pleated skirt. The look mimics the trending VSCO style.

Knitted Shrugs 

To differentiate regular types of sweaters from shurgs, you need to know what is a shrug sweater. It is a snug-fitting, front open cardigan made of wool, with sleeves varying in length. On those chilly days when you need the warmth and comfort of a snug shawl, a knitted shrug may be your savior. You can go for a cable knit shrug or a ribbed one for styling your fall/winter outfits.

Outfit Ideas:

  1. A yellow turtle neck along with black jeggings team up perfectly for a winter street style look. However, the look is elevated even more if you go for a grey cable knit shrug and wrap it stylishly around the shoulders.
  2. Bring up the flair of a sweater and palazzos with a cream sleeveless knitted shrug. Complete the look with matching strappy sandals and a shoulder bag.

Long Sleeve Shrugs 

Whether you feel the need to cover for modesty or just look stylish, full sleeved long shrugs are a blessing. They are a great way to add matching sleeves to any outfit.

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Pair a green velvet shrug with a matching dress and trousers for a complete head to toe green look. The outfit is classy and elegant and will undoubtedly bring you positive compliments. Choose a golden strappy sandal with this outfit and round it off with a silver clutch.
  2. Simply pair a maroon crewneck top and jeans with a matching shrug for a stunning look.
  3. You can also get your hands on a shrug coat cardigan, which is less structutred than a coat, but shaped like a blazer. The slightly structured knitted coat with long sleeves will be an excellent option to layer wide legged pants outfits or skirt outfits for a dressy look. Wear a black chiffon top with black culottes and layer with a black and white microfloral print shrug coat for an elegant look. Complete this look with a black chained shoulder bag and ankle strap heels. 

Floral Shrugs

Prints speak volumes about your style, and printed shrugs are no exception.  Particularly floral shrugs look very stylish and are a breeze to carry. Depending upon your personal style, you can opt for a shrug with microfloral or tropical print as all give the same boho vibes. Floral shrugs can be available in chiffon, silk jersey, cotton, or polyester.

Outfit Ideas:

  1. Opt for a white tank top, denim shorts, and a floral shrug to nail the female hipster look with ultimate style. The look is incomplete without flat gladiator sandals and thick rimmed glasses.
  2. Wear a microfloral shrug over a plain yellow short dress and add some funky vibes to the outfit with some chunky bracelets and jewelry. 

FAQs – What Is A Shrug

What is a Shrug Clothing?

Shrug, a cropped, open-front cardigan, is an ideal layering option when you want to conceal your arms while showing off your top or dress. Women who want to cover their arms in a strapped or sleeveless outfit opt for shrug clothing to stay comfortable.

What is a Shrug Top?

While shrug is an open front, cropped garment that is usually tied with a single button, a shrug top is a pullover, full or ¾ sleeved top that is cropped from beneath the neckline. You can wear a shrug top over a tube top, spaghetti strap top, or a tank top as an outer layer.

What is a Shrug Dress?

Shrug dress means a lightweight, front open, long garment that is usually worn over jeans and shirts or wide legged pants outfits. A long shrug dress can be tied on the front with a single button or fabric, or stay open. Shrug garment in dress style is available in a variety of prints and patterns. 

What is the Difference Between a Cardigan and a Sweater Shrug?

The main difference between a cardigan and shrug is that the cardigan covers the arms, back and whole upper body, whereas the shrug is a clothing item that covers only back and arms. Shrugs are tight fitting, whereas cardigans are loose. 

Shrug vs Bolero: Which One is Better?

Shrugs are cropped cardigans that cover the arms and are close fitted. While Boleros are small structured jackets that are open from the front. They are a bit dressier than shrugs and are made with fabrics such as satin, cotton, or even leather. You can choose between a shrug and bolero depending upon your outfit and the occasion. 

How to Wear a Shrug Sweater?

A good shrug sweater is your ultimate spring and fall layering option. You can wear it over tube tops, blouses, and dresses to add a style element besides covering your arms. Try going for versatile neutral colors, which will make your outfit choices more vast. 

How to Wear a Shrug With Jeans?

To nail the shrug look with jeans, wear a lovely pale yellow spaghetti strap top with a plunging neckline. Opt for a dark colored shrug with this outfit.

How to Wear a Shrug With a Dress?

While wearing a shrug with a dress, remember to mix and match the colors, and don’t try to pair large bold prints together. The best thing to do is match a plain dress with a printed shrug or vice versa. 


Shrugs are trending high once again after not being in the limelight for a few years. Make sure you get your hands on a few to dress up nicely. 

When it comes to dressiness, the bolero jacket may be a bit more dressy due to its structure, but the shrug definitely allows us multiple outfit combos. Therefore make sure you have an excellent quality shrug in your closet.

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