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Spiff Magazine Logo
May 9th 2021
Author: Spiff
Cardigan Always

There are garments that ooze affection, the cardigan is one of them."Put on your cardigan in case it gets cold," your mother would remind you before you went out to play. The cardigan also exudes bohemian and sober airs. Disheveled hair and beard or military grooming. Evenings in Santorini or walks around Harvard Yard, Yale, or Princeton in the 60s. The cardigan is Pep Guardiola in the era of the good Barça. It's your father at some point in his life. It's David Hockney painting Portrait of an artist (pool with two figures). Your philosophy teacher, in my case a nun, talking about Plato, Descartes, Nietzsche, Ortega y Gasset...wearing a navy blue cardigan. It's Robin Williams yelling "Oh, captain, my captain" even if he didn't wear a cardigan, it doesn't matter. 

It has a military origin, like so many others. James Brudenell, seventh Earl of Cardigan, born in 1824, was almost a caricature of a member of the English aristocracy. Not too successful in war, or in love, or in practically anything; but he liked clothes and spending money on them. Vanity personified. He led the famous charge of the Light Brigade. Many of his men died in that battle against the Russians, but something powerful caught the attention of the British public, our protagonist's knit vest. Back in London, the vest became popular, thus the cardigan was born.

Paul Newman in a thick cardigan

But it would be a woman who would get the garment out of rancid ostracism. Coco Chanel. Oh, Coco, how much is owed to you. She popularized the jacket among women. Chanel knew how to develop the garment, heavy and too working-class in the 20s, and turn it into something similar to what we know today. Much lighter, shorter and with the aim of being able to be used as an intermediate garment. Because one can never be too grateful to Coco, thank you again, you were always the greatest.

At the end of World War II, a relaxation of concepts, the disappearance of taboos with regard to clothes. The cardigan makes an appearance in Ivy League boys. In summary, the garment has become a trend.

Cardigan with or without sleeves. With sleeves, for a white shirt underneath and non-sanforized jeans. Without sleeves, for a shirt and jacket on top. A cardigan without sleeves under tweed works and works very well, to achieve that contrasting, cheerful effect that is sometimes needed in looks where we combine trousers of one color and a jacket of another. As would happen with any suit vest, the sleeveless V-cardigan lengthens our figure and, if wearing a tie, holds it together.

Bruce Boyer in a sleeveless cardigan

Mustard yellows and oranges go well with blues and grays; burgundy, violet, and emerald greens work well with tweed and gray.

I like cardigans because they relax almost any outfit. A pair of khaki pants, a white T-shirt and a navy blue cardigan, transform us. They magically make us calmer, more sensitive people. There are no alpha males in cardigans. The cardigan is a garment for the elderly, underappreciated by the elderly. Young old timer! Of course, but kind. Like your grandfather. Like your grandmother. Because grandparents have always been kind people. And in a cardigan, even moreso.

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