Earl of Cardigan blah blah blah 19th century snooze… We’ll skip the history lesson and just tell you that cardigans are trending hard for autumn/winter. Thank the oversized silhouettes of designer Raf Simons, or the ghost of Kurt Cobain, whose grungy, thrifted aesthetic has circled back.
Despite the endorsement of such swag lords, cardigans still scare many men. So we’ve compiled some 21st-century styling moves that will help you avoid giving off granddad vibes. Like, say, taking the empty Werther’s Originals wrappers out of your pockets.
This is not your dad’s guide to how to wear a cardigan. And certainly not his dad’s. Follow these tips to smell more like teen spirit than Old Spice. Or mothballs.
Retire Your Formal Shirts
Cardigans can be worn smart-casually and even smartly, as pointed out by every derivative style guide ever. But these are also the kind of things that more mature men with grown-up jobs – or who are retired – have to think about.
Swapping a respectable button-up for a more casual T-shirt instantly feels younger. Make sure the neckline is sweet and low, so it doesn’t look like you’re wearing a pneumonia-warding undershirt. A longer hem meanwhile will also let you incorporate some reverse layering, or complement a Raffish longer-line cardie.
Ironically, given the name, a granddad shirt – AKA a collarless or, also ironically, band-collar shirt – is another very current alternative that can skew on point and less OAP.
Get Some Spring In Your Step
If you’re going granddad up top, then it’s not a bad idea to go badass down below. Think jeans (maybe even ripped or moto), slimline cargo trousers, tapered joggers, or even chinos in a shade of khaki that’s closer to military green than old people’s home beige.
Fit-wise, keep it slim and/or tapered, which in turn keeps you squarely in contemporary and out of superannuated territory. Again, we’re not saying that you can’t nail the pleated trend. Just that if you’re at all afraid of resembling a senior citizen, then give any legwear that could be construed as ‘slacks’ a wide berth.
Be Early For Your Own Funeral
We’ve touched on it above, but Werther’s Originals aren’t the only kind of caramel associated with granddads. Earth tones might be big on the runways for autumn/winter 2016, but they’re also a key look for those in the autumn and winter of their lives.
That’s not to say you can’t ever rock a beige or brown cardi – just that you’re veering nearer to geezer. So you might want to make the rest of your outfit a bit more rock ’n’ roll to compensate.
There’s a reason why black is a uniform for musicians, fashion industry types and streetwear-hunting hypebeasts: it adds instant edge, sharpening up a camel cardigan as it does an equally old-fashioned coat. Or indeed any other shade.
Kick The Proper Shoe Bucket
Goodyear-welted brogues are an eminently sensible choice of footwear for any gent. Which is why, when paired with a cardigan, they can imply the kind of age that comes with wisdom.
Sidestep any old-codger connotations by stepping up the ruggedness with a pair of beefy boots. Or get down with the kids in some trainers: the more avant-garde, the less granddad. Just avoid anything too orthopaedic-looking. And maybe velcro.
If trainers or shit-kickers are too casual for your needs, try some sleek Chelsea boots. Worn by everyone from the Beatles to Kanye West, they’re smart while still hitting a rebellious note.
Put A Young Head On Old Shoulders
A big part of how your cardigan skews can be dictated by the little styling touches. Like, say, leaving the bottom button undone because you’re not 70. Or pushing the sleeves up to show off your tattoos (or, at least, bracelets).
A bit of stubble is more subversive than clean-shaven or full-on facial hair; ditto long hair or a tight fade rather than a conservative short back and sides. Or if your hair is grey because you think Zayn Malik is cool and not because of time’s ravages.
Either way, you can always conceal your silver foxiness – with a beanie or sporty baseball cap, rather than a fogeyish fedora or plain-weird pilgrim hat. Which we think are irredeemably stupid anyway. But maybe we’re getting too old for this shit.