It’s possible that I have the soul of an 70-year-old woman. It would explain my penchant for tea, blankets, cozy sweaters and an early bedtime. My love for cardigans has endured the longest and my childhood photos are proof.
But cardigans haven’t always been considered stylish. Besides their Golden Girls vibe, they’ve long been the sartorial choice of academics, preppy college kids and Mister Rogers. Recently, however, cardigans have experienced a kind of fashion renaissance. Unlike their prim and proper predecessors, today’s coolest cardis are designed to stand out. You can wear them cropped or oversized, chunky or whisper thin, with ribbed or billowy sleeves, and over-the-shoulder or with a deep-V neckline.
It started last year when Katie Holmes became a viral sensation in a Khaite cashmere cardigan-and-bralette combo. That look became a whole mood with its casual sensuality. Cardigan lovers like myself rejoiced but also wondered, “Are cardigans… sexy?”
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Holmes isn’t the only celebrity who’s made a case for cardigans. They’ve also become a model favourite. Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner have all championed micro-cardigans and twin-sets, sporting theirs with jeans and a certain insouciance that says, ‘This ain’t your grandma’s cardigan.”
The cardigan love has also played out on runways. The spring 2020 collections saw stylish iterations from Miu Miu and Chanel, while fall 2020 ushered in fresh takes from Marc Jacobs, No. 21 and Altuzarra. Meanwhile, the lead single from Taylor Swift’s latest album Folklore is called “Cardigans” (Swift wears a cream cable knit cardigan with star embroidery in the music video and also has it available for purchase on her website).
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There’s a certain amount of nostalgia that fuels the return of the cardigan. It joins other nineties-inspired trends that have staged a triumphant comeback like scrunchies and bike shorts. Remember sweater sets? Even with their glow-up, cardigans are still coziness personified and that’s what makes them so appealing. They’re a blanket for all those Zoom calls you’re forced into, a reliable layer when you can’t get the temperature at home just right, and that almost-but-not-quite loungewear that lets you feel at least a little put-together.
If you’ve spent the pandemic filling up your online shopping cart with real or fantasy purchases, you may have noticed a lot more cardigans front and centre. And thank goodness for that because there’s never been a better time for them to shine.
Here are a few cardigans that deserve to be in heavy rotation in your wardrobe.