Sadly, autumn dressing isn’t as simple as swapping your pool sliders for hiking boots. The days pass through a tricky-to-dress-for cycle of frosty mornings, sweaty afternoons, then I-can’t-feel-my-fingers nights. Which demands more costume changes than Madonna.
There is an easier way to keep ahead of the weather curve: add a cardigan or two to your autumn wardrobe. But this isn’t your granddad’s favourite. A slimmer knit can be thrown over a T-shirt for that much-needed extra layer when you leave the house, or under a suit, with your overcoat ditched, when the sun emerges.
Either way, minimal effort is required to achieve maximum style. Just don’t fill the pockets with Murray Mints.
A.P.C. Shawl Collar Camel Cardigan
You know what you’re getting with Jean Touitou’s label: clean silhouettes with no embellishment, in colours that complement everything else in your wardrobe. So A.P.C.’S the foolproof option if you’re otherwise put off by buttoned-up knitwear.
Before you get smart about navy-coloured camels, know that we’re talking fabric, not hue. That bactrian hair keeps its owner cool on desert days, but is warming when the sun drops and takes the temperature with it. Which will now stop you getting the hump when the weather’s unpredictable.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £290.
Mango Ribbed Cardigan
If you’re a fan of slim-fit tailoring, you need layers that are barely there. This super-thin option is made from a cotton and wool mix, providing warmth that belies its lack of bulk. The pop of colour also adds some fire to your neutral tailoring.
The zip fastening is more modern than a traditional button-up, and practical besides, keeping the chill out right up to your neck. It also means it works as well under a blazer, bomber or denim jacket, to give your off-duty looks some heat.
Available at Mango, priced £49.99.
John Smedley Grid Intarsia Merino Wool Cardigan
Graphic knitwear was all over AW15 runways, but it’s a tricky trend to pull off. This John Smedley cardigan is a simple way to dip your toe. Single colours are an easier wear and mustard ranks among our shades of the season, lending your look some pep to counter brooding skies.
It helps that the concertinaed pattern nips in your waist, so you can layer up without looking bulky. Although, if you’re adding a jacket, stick to block-neutrals, please.
Available at Mr Porter, priced £190.
ASOS Zip Through Cardigan With Square Design
For this geometric knit, see our guidelines above. The monochrome colourway dials down your cardi’s impact somewhat, but you’re still going to want to keep what’s around it sober.
Statement-making as it may be, ASOS’ cardigan isn’t all mouth. It’s mid-weight so you can go light on outerwear without feeling the chill, but if the scooped neck leaves your skin exposed, add a plain cotton scarf for extra warmth.
Available at ASOS, priced £32.
Suitsupply Rust Cardigan
Italian brand Suitsupply specialises in classics given a modern spin. Here, that translates as a traditionally-cut cardigan in a rusty cotton-cashmere blend, but with a slim silhouette and contrast buttons that make it ideal partner to your tailoring, since it hugs rather than hangs off your torso.
Pair it with light greys and whites to let the autumnal hue pop.
Available at Suitsupply, priced £69.
Club Monaco Waffle Shawl Cardigan
A shawl collar is the simplest twist to your knitwear, and means you can give your outfit a lift without having to dabble in punchy patterns and colour.
A waffle effect and mottled fibres give an otherwise plain piece a sense of richness, and the high neck will ward off that nor’easter. Chuck it on over a white button-down for weekends, or slip under your suit jacket and rock an air-tie for a contemporary spin on your workwear.
Available at Club Monaco, priced £187.53.
Topman Black Open Cardigan
A staple for your dad, and the lead singer of every band ever, a plain black cardigan is as much a wardrobe necessity as the slim-fit black denim it works so well with.
Topman’s take ditches the buttons for a modern update, even if you do lose some warmth. Either wear it over a white tee, frontman style, on balmier days, or slot under a double-breasted jacket to add some insulation without stressing the open front.
Available at Topman, priced £35.
Marks & Spencer Collezione Tile Patterned Cardigan
Merino is known as nature’s base layer, since it wicks away sweat when you’re heating up, and traps air to insulate you when the mercury’s dropping. Which is why you’ll find it wrapped round the bodies of pro cyclists.
Though this M&S cardigan isn’t much use on the Tour, its understated pattern and rich burgundy beat a yellow jersey for winter layering looks.
Available at Marks and Spencer, priced £45.
Gant Ribbed Wool-Blend Cardigan
How do you shake off the cardigan’s sometimes fusty rep? By merging it with a streetwear staple. Part bomber jacket, part cardigan, it’s outerwear for warmer days but is slim enough to slip under a mac if the sun disappears.
We’re also big fans of its mid-blue tone, which lifts your neutrals even when the sky doesn’t match.
Available at Gant, priced £175.
Ted Baker Conveks Sprayed Ombre Cardigan
Proving you don’t need to do much to modernise the cardi, Ted Baker’s take keeps the classic elements – V-neck, button closure – but updates it with an ombre finish.
For a an advanced style move, wear over a shirt that’s subtly checked in one of the cardigan’s colours, then echo the other in your tie. Or, just stick to white and let your layering speak for itself. Grey autumn days have never looked so good.
Available at Ted Baker, priced £109.