In Fashion: Cardigans' New Rap

Posted at 5:00 AM Oct 23, 2009

By Kathleen Willcox

Cardigans, long the unsung heroes who swoop in and save the day during every working gals' Manic Monday fashion panics, are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Like Grandma Moses, you'll generally find me swathed in layers of cardigans, scarves and brightly hued fake pashminas. Whenever a member of my unholy trinity of goose-bump warriors gets a little love from the fashion gods, I rejoice. And more importantly: I stock up.

In this grim recessionista season, the variety of cardigan styles cluttering the internets and the shelves of my favorite shops is good for everyone on a budget, because they're so damn versatile.

Pair a long one with trousers or a simple skirt and pumps, and you're set for the office; change into sexy cigarette jeans, sky-high stilettos and sling a chunky belt around your waist, and you're ready to hit your roommate's-best-friend-from-college's-cousin's party, where there's allegedly some hot guy who's new in town and is also totally into Japanimation and is as stoked to meet you are as you are him.

A round-up of cardigans that will warm the cockles of your heart, and your epidermis:

For the girly girls:

Occasionally, I enjoy slipping into a dusky pink ensemble and embracing my inner chick flick-watching, mani/pedi-loving, chocolate-craving girly girl. This ruffled cardigan (pictured above) from J. Crew embodies the smart, classic, feminine spirit; it's something your grandmother would have worn and something your granddaughter will probably wear. Paired with pearl earrings and a black pencil skirt, it's perfect for the office or a tea party in which copious petite fours will be consumed - throw it over a ratty tank and a slouchy pair of boyfriend jeans, throw on a funky bracelet or two and you're set for an afternoon spent wandering flea markets and sipping espresso while reading Proust. $98.

For the laid-back ladies:

Sometimes when I dress for my semi-fancy day job, I'm just not in the mood for donning the quasi-corporate armor - but I need to look the part. That's where relatively pricey ($198) pieces like this cascading cardigan form Eileen Fisher prove to be absolutely priceless. At nearly $200, it better be! The angled front, angled pockets and über luxe material (from free-range flocks of alpaca that graze on open meadows in Peru), perfectly executed ribbing at the butt-skimming hem and extra long cuffs make me feel like a million bucks. Its swingy shape is also perfect bloat-cover - and let's face it, that makes everyone a winner. When I slip out of work, I just slip off my trousers, slink on my tightest jeans, throw on a chunky belt and wha la - I'm ready to rock happy hour.
For the mod chicks:

For the ladies most unlikely to wear cardigans - the breathlessly sprinting fashion-forward - this one may pass muster. And at $19.80 from Forever 21, it's not a risky investment. The curve-hugging, hip skimming v-neck evokes Mondrian design and 60's fashion sense filtered through Austin Power's sensibility while skydiving on an acid trip. It would totally work in the office with a drab pair of pants and some boring flats, and then be ready for a gallery opening in Billyburg with some ironically garish gold hoops, sky high freaky deaky heels and midnight black leggings.


mo said:

love me a good cardigan!

Kiala said:

I have so many cardis. I would die, DIE without them.

kathleen said:

I'm glad i'm not the only cardi fiend out there!

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