Confessions of a cardiephile
‘Cardigans are victim!’ declared a famous (at the time) American fashion consultant/personal shopper back in the 90s. Presumably no woman who wanted to get ahead in the corporate world could afford to be seen in public in something as yielding, as unstructured – as unstrategic! – as a cardie, even with the addition of killer shoulder pads.
Well, I love a cardie, and when I’m shopping I’m more tempted by a cardie than anything else (most recent purchase a £10 black and grey spotty number from Costco, since you ask). A cardie can take you from babyhood in a lovingly knitted matinee jacket to dotage in a lavender crocheted bedjacket and is a suitable garment for every conceivable occasion in between – see the helpful cut-out-and-keep guide below:
|Job interview||Chanel style, naturally|
|First date||Cropped cashmere in a jewel colour|
|In the witness box/dock||Grey, with a collar|
|At football/rugby||Knee-length, with a high collar|
|At the opera||Angora shrug|
|On the beach||Improvise a windbreak with sticks through the sleeves|
|In the nursery||A marl knit will camouflage regurgitations|
|Camping||Take at least three that will fit over each other, one to have a hood|
So our US fashion friend couldn’t be more wrong. I suspect she was attached to an armour-plated Thatcher style of jacket, but if you haven’t got the infrastructure to support such rigorous tailoring, the right cardie will be a much better fit, making you look sleek and soignée rather than as if you are camping out in someone else’s clothes. (Of course, you could just head for Savile Row to get a decent jacket, but you probably need to be a non-dom to afford this option.)
Somehow, there is a lot more mileage in a cardie than in a jumper. It offers opportunities for exciting colour contrasts, and in so doing is probably the nearest thing we have now to a slashed doublet. And you don’t risk looking like a scarecrow whenever you take it off or put it on, which was doubtless why it was invented in Britain.
You can also be genuinely creative with a cardigan. I have seen one worn tied round the waist over a long skirt, so that it looked like an elegant bustle. Children can be converted into caped crusaders in an instant by removing their arms from the sleeves and leaving only the top button done up. In fact, you don’t even need to wear them: a cardie can be a pillow, a sack for gathering windfalls, or a gentle projectile to throw on a mouse so that it can be humanely removed from one’s premises.
Olivia Newton John did the garment a great disservice in Grease, using it as the signifier of her primness and discarding (see what I did there?) it triumphantly in favour of black leather in her transformation, but it’s time for the cardie fightback: wear yours with pride.