Experimenting with Cardigans (Again)

Cardigans are one of those things that I understand as a practical option for many women, but which I have historically struggled with.  I prefer to not think about how many cardigans I have acquired over the years, only to sell or donate them when I become impatient with their necklines, or length, or the weight of the buttons.  I found a happy cardigan place with the chunky green one featured in this post, and I had one red one that basically existed for layering under coats in winter, but all other cardigans were just riddled with issues.  The only exception was ballet cardigans which have been a great option for me since the pale pink one I had as a ballerina-in-training at 6 years of age (if only my skills had been as good as that cardigan).

However.  I want the practicality of a classic cardigan.  I love the idea of a jumper that I don’t have to pull on and off over my head as I move between higher and lower temps (short curly hair is just one outfit change away from Too Much Volume and frizziness).  They are just like a jacket in that they give you way more outfit combinations by jazzing up the tops you already own.  They have a delightful vibe all of their own!  Other women can wear them!  WHERE IS MY CARDIGAN MOMENT.

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Then I found my monkey cardigan in a shop in Martinborough and I tossed caution to the wind.  (That’s right – a monkey cardigan tempted me back into the fray).  It sat in the drawer for a month or so while I panicked about its round neck, which flopped about stupidly as soon as I tried to wear it unbuttoned.  Then, finally, I decided to stop treating cardigans like cardigans and to start treating them like “jumpers with a fun button feature”.  That’s right – buttoned up to the neck (and, I guess, no longer jazzing up a top I already own because you can’t see said tops).  I tried that out in this look on Instagram and loved it, so cardigan acquisition 2019 was upon me.

This cardigan is a good example of why you should keep your eyes peeled vis a vis fashion opportunities.  I was passing by the free swap shelves that exist in my community here in Wellington (great place to leave sensible donations like warm winter woollies or kitchenware) and spotted it glimmering in the sun.  Now, I do not fully understand why someone would think to leave this at the free swap shelves, but I’m assuming it was an inspiration planted in their brains for my advantage by the fashion gods, because I.  Love.  It.  So, for the first and probs the last time, I took something from the free swap shelf instead of leaving something. 

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I’m a 36 year old lady so my days in the club are far behind me (which I’m fine with, trust me), but I still like a sparkly moment.  I still go out to fancy, fun nights out, it’s just that nowadays I wear a coat and I do not throw that coat, and my bag, onto a sticky floor and then take that coat home and just hang it back up in my wardrobe.  What was I thinking, yuck.  Anyway, I can’t do the “town top plus jeans” combo that I rocked in 2001, but sparkle cardi here is the perfect option for a night out, and obviously I was immediately captivated by the idea of partnering it with these 501C jeans from Levis (many years old, sorry) and these painfully high silver heels.  All the metallics is an easy outfit option.

If you wanted to wear something like this cardi (noting that this metallic knit is cropping up in the high street) without going for a look that makes you look like you’re auditioning for an off-off-off-Broadway performance of Wizard of Oz, wherein you will play the tinman, then I’d pair this with a leather skirt or a pair of black wool grandad trousers for a day in the office.  It needs to be worn with something that isn’t too girly or ladylike to steer it away from the costumey end of the spectrum (although, if that’s your vibe, then I invite you to wear this with a full, pink skirt and these same silver heels and to look effing excellent). 

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Now, like many things on this blog, this works in part because I continue to have the approximate build of a 14 year old boy (although, like maybe a short 16 year old at this point because I have more back and shoulder muscles than I used to).  However, tucking your cardigan into your trousers or skirt works well for most – just make sure you think about your neckline and where your waistline hits.  You can see in my previous post with the chunky cardi that it’s possible to half tuck a cardi too, to give it more style and less schlep, but I’m also a proponent of the long over-cardi.  Long line, open front cardis are conventionally flattering for lots of women because they create a vertical line while skimming (personally, I prefer something I can button up).  At a conservative estimate I’d say there are hundreds of cardigans available on the secondhand market so please, please, do not buy these new (monkey cardigans notwithstanding).

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In short, I still don’t favour cardigans over my other options for cooler weather but I’m happy to have found a way to wear a cardigan that I enjoy.  They’re a perfect thrifting layer (because, again, no need to pull them over your head) and a great option in the office for something a bit fancier than your standard Glassons merino.  I’ll be keeping my cardigan options limited for now, but if you see any other quirky animal options…please let me know!