In the not so distant past, the sole association of a cardigan laid firmly with the old-fashioned, and not in a debonair ‘Mad Men’ kind of way. It’s now almost inconceivable to imagine that cardigans were once so easily dismissed as belonging to the realm of the geriatric and regarded with the more retirement home kind of ilk. The cardigan has, however, proved that fashion really is cyclical and has over recent years re-established itself as a wardrobe stable for both men and women.
Today I’m going to focus on a key autumn/winter variant of the cardigan, the heavy knit. What to do, when to do it and how to style it for this year’s colder seasons.
A chunkier knitted cardigan presents a great opportunity to bring texture into an autumn/winter outfit. Grab a knit or two to help create those layered looks that define style during the colder months. Of course, heavier weighted cardigans also provide that much needed insulation and warmth, making them a solid choice for when Jack Frost nips at your brogues.
As mentioned briefly before, the cardigan easily transcends both smart and casual, seamlessly working alongside a shirt and tie as effortlessly as it would when paired with jeans and t-shirt. It’s this versatility that has gained it the reputation of a timeless and essential selection when looking to add knitwear to your wardrobe.
Before we start, here is some lookbook inspiration in order to whet your appetite:
A shirt and tie approach doesn’t have to mean full on corporate. Cardigans can, in fact, be worn quite easily in a more casual setting. A knitted tie is an often underrated and underused accessory but we happen to know they’re great for bridging the gap between smart and casual. A slimmer tie distances itself from the corporate world, cementing itself as a superb option for those looking for a more relaxed take on the traditional office uniform.
A laundered (or soft) collar shirt instantly makes the outfit less formal, and a check shirt is worth considering if you really want to dress the tie down. When used as the outermost layer, the cardigan creates a well-layered look. A chunky knit only adds to this layered effect, emphasising the differing textures of the tie, cardigan and shirt.
Woollen trousers began to establish themselves as a top smart-casual option last autumn/winter and by utilising them within this outfit you add another texture and even more depth to the look.
You can define your underlying inspiration via your choice of footwear. Loafers will create a more Ivy-League, preppy archetype, while desert boots will be slightly more unintended. Brogues or derbies are worth considering when looking to make this look office worthy, or when shifting from desk to bar.
A heavy knit cardigan can also be worked into your everyday office attire by simply replacing the blazer in your typical usual work costume. The smart shirt, silk tie, suit trousers and shoes doesn’t need to be changed.
The cardigan in question doesn’t necessarily have to be a heavy knit but when the weather isn’t the best, it’s certainly a more practical option.
The belted cardigan is a more avant-garde approach to outerwear; especially when worn with a suit. The chunky cardigan will be both warm and stylish when tied loosely at the waist and will set you apart from every other suit wearer. Certainly a risk worth taking in our eyes.
Prints were the biggest trend of this year’s spring/summer months and they’re set to stick around long enough to transcend through autumn/winter as well. A heavy knit cardigan is a great way to subdue or neutralise prints, helping to tone them down and ensuring they are much easier to wear.
A printed polo shirt with a cardigan set over the top is a great way to show off a section of print without it overwhelming your entire outfit. A neutral pair of chinos and desert boots keeps the look casual and also helps in anchoring the bold print.
The single biggest force in menswear over the past few seasons has been the abandonment of monochromatic wardrobes. Coloured trousers have become an integral part of the modern man’s garb.
Keep the trousers as the focal point with a simple t-shirt and heavy knit combo. The result: an easy, effortless everyday look. Clean white sneakers finish off the casual nature of the outfit well.
Patterned or coloured knitwear can act as a great statement piece to build an outfit around. Keep the rest of the outfit fairly simple by using block colours to neutralise – and not clash with – the bolder statement piece.
Menswear staples also make the process of pulling off a patterned piece that much easier. In this outfit, the slim green trousers work with the burgundy in the cardigan, while the classic chambray shirt and Chelsea boots add a timeless twist to the overall bolder nature of the look.
With it’s reputation now reinvigorated, there is no doubt that the cardigan is a bona-fide, year round essential that transcends not only seasons, but those troublesome smart and casual divides. But how do you button yours?
Let us know in the comments below…