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STYLE ADVICE

CULT ITEM: CARDIGAN

By Will Morley, 26 January 2017

For an item of clothing that’s often associated with full-on nerdery, the humble cardigan has been sported by some pretty boss dudes, starting with The Dude himself. The Big Lebowski is inextricably linked to his comfy patterned number, while Kurt Cobain wearing his iconic green mohair version is the image of the grunge era. 

Cult Item Cardigan

Picture: Rex

As with 99% of all menswear history, the cardigan has a military back story. It was named after the 7th Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean war and, like all officers at the time, sported a sleeveless knitted vest under his tunic. Over time, the name came to include long-sleeved, button-front knits as well. When it comes to autumn and winter clobber it’s often a case of who layers wins, and the cardi’s versatility and ease of wear make it a must have not only for braving the cold outside, but also a snuggle-worthy item for an evening of Netflix and literal chill.

Cult Item Cardigan

Picture: Getty

Shawl-collar cardigan

Steve McQueen on a men’s fashion site? Who would have thought it? JK, guys. McQueen’s style has been endlessly analysed, praised and picked apart, but the thing is, the man is effortlessly cool, even in a cardigan. Shooting for a shawl collar means you’re going to have a little extra coverage to pop up, should the temperature drop, but it also means you’re going to get an outdoorsy, active-man type vibe, so take that into consideration when deciding what to pair it with. Follow McQueen’s example and reach for a battered denim or chambray work shirt for some windswept ruggedness. Don’t be too precious about how everything hangs on the body, but pay attention to your cuffs and peel them back for a perfect fit on the arm.

Cult Item Cardigan

Picture: Getty

Varsity sweater

The varsity sweater was an old-school way of repping your ends. It indicated which school or team you were part of and usually was only awarded to a person who had excelled in a sport or other extra curricular activity. They really came to prominence in America during the 30s and 40s, but had a resurgence in the 60s when the preppy look hit its stride. For a vibe that’s both super sharp, comfortable and also adds an air of the intellectual, try an Oxford collar button down with a striped tie under a letterman cardigan with some slim wool trousers and Derby shoes. Without straying into parody and for that extra throwback touch, finish the look with some horn-rimmed glasses. 

Cult Item Cardigan

Picture: Getty

Longline cardigan

If you’re less about retro, reach for a modern oversized version to bring your steez up to speed. Sleek and slimming, a longline fit adds a spot of fashion-forward panache, but try to avoid buttoning it up completely, lest you end up looking like your mum in her nightie or some sort of druid. It’s the perfect item for going full monochrome, but don’t be afraid to add colour with a plaid shirt underneath or a scarf up top.

Cult Item Cardigan

Picture: Getty

Luxury cardigan

Grabbing a cardi made of something a little finer – say cashmere rather than wool – will not only slim down your silhouette (and, if you’ve been hitting the gym, really make those guns pop), but it’ll also make for easier layering under a suit, instead of the standard waistcoat. If you want to go the more traditional route, the cardigan will hold in your tie and stop it dangling into your cocktail, but if you’re after a look that’s a little less formal, you can forgo the neckwear completely, undo a couple of buttons on your shirt – or switch it out for a crisp white tee, like Joel Edgerton here. It’s an ensemble that says, once this martini is finished, you can catch me on the dancefloor.

Cult Item Cardigan

Picture: Getty

Statement cardigan 

Hip-hop is the last style sub-culture you'd expect to embrace the cardigan, but a fair few of the rap game's finest have held it down for the knitted button-up. Wiz Khalifa has been known to embrace his inner librarian in a grungy camel cardi, while A$AP Rocky favours colourful high-end woollies – like this Gucci number – that demonstrate both his $$$ and the expert way in which he handles a powerful pattern. If you aren't feeling quite up to A$AP-level print-clashing, pare things back and balance out your statement cardigan with a white or black crew-neck tee and some minimalist kicks.

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