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How The Classic Cardigan Got Cool

Proof that everything can have a makeover

Felicity Robinson

Can you imagine the thrill of jumping from a plane at 15,000 feet or speeding at horseback through an open valley? I can’t, because I’m wearing a cardigan. Nothing exciting ever happens when you’re wearing a cardigan – it’s the sartorial equivalent of a Milo and an early night. No one ever took a risk while wearing a classic Arran knit with leather buttons.

All the more surprising, then, that the unassuming cardi has become the stealth hit of the season. Blame our continuing fascination with the ’90s, or simply the fact it’s so very cold outside, but every shop right now has a rack of quiet (and some quite loud) cardigans just waiting to take their rightful place in your wardrobe and affections.

They’re ribbed or fluffy mohair, bright or comfortingly beige, and best of all, they have buttons.

“All cardigans should have buttons,” declares Tara Morris, our shopping editor, who is wary of the ‘waterfall’ cardigans of seasons past – those long knitted robes that have no fastenings or ties. “What makes cardies interesting this time round is you can treat them as a top or blouse, as well as a useful throw over. Some are the kind of cardies you see in Clueless – v-necked and worn with nothing underneath.”

The white Reformation piece is the most ’90s of Tara’s picks this week and it’s also ethically produced. Cropped to sit at the top of a high-waisted jean or midi skirt, it can be worn on its own, like a blouse, or over a simple tee. Similarly, the yellow-green Zara cardi would look great as a top with jeans now, or in spring worn open with sleeves pushed up over a dress.

For a more sophisticated weekend look, the luxe Marni cardigan is a modern take on the camel classic, while both the Gorman and Witchery pieces are heavier and more relaxed (“like a ‘Grandpa’ style,” adds Tara).

And with the J Crew piece, you have a cardi that’s fancy enough to wear to dinner or the theatre.  Burgundy sequins on a cardigan – surely the final proof that the humble cardi is ready to shine.




BY Felicity Robinson

Felicity is the co-founder of Primer. She writes in her favourite cardigan, but it can never be seen outside the office.

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