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Fashionable, Cosy Cardigans are Back!

Updated on December 6, 2014

If, like me you live in Northern Europe (or the Northern USA or Canada for that matter) then it is winter drawers on (well thermal knickers anyway!). What we need at this time of the year is 'transition pieces'. By that I mean garments that we can wear in both Winter, Spring and early Summer, clothes that make us comfortable in the journey from Winter to Summer.

Ideal transition pieces are chunky cardigans and knitwear.

No not those flimsy, mumsy little numbers that go with pearls and make you think of public libraries, but something long, figure hugging and fashionable. The kind of cardigan that looks great with jeans, a gorgeous pair of boots and perhaps a smart hat.

Your parents will approve of this sort of garment because, not only do you look great in it, but you also appear warm and snug and you know how they worry that you don’t wrap up enough!

Classic Belted Cardigan for this Winter
Classic Belted Cardigan for this Winter
Asymetric cardigan with ruffles
Asymetric cardigan with ruffles

Cardigan styles for this Winter

Sensible yet sexy sums up my thoughts on a cardigan for the winter. I’m thinking something that’s totally this year but has a classic feel and will also look great next year and the year after.

Incidentally, with the current economic woes, I, like many of us, have a limited budget for clothes. I’m therefore a great believer in splashing out on a few classic garments and recycling them in future years with up to the minute accessories.

I’m thinking here of things like a trench coat, a leather jacket, aviator style for example, or a military greatcoat.

Anyway, lets get back to cardigans. A cardigan is a machine or hand-knitted sweater. that ties, buttons or zips down the front. The cardigan was named after James Brudenell, the 7th Earl of Cardigan.

Six Earls before the Cardigan?

I could go on but I can see you are bored. “What about the other six Earls?” someone is asking. I’m sorry but the rest of us are more interested in current trends in cardigans rather than a history lesson. Anyway, the other 6 Earls were probably too busy fighting wars to invent knitwear!

Cable knits are hot this year and many styles are ribbed. You will see quite a range of irregular or asymmetric hems. I like this look as it makes the cardigan lines more interesting. Variations include fitted hoods or cowls and also belted designs with loops.

Many long cardigan designs this season are essentially open. I’ll leave it to you to decide if ‘open’ suits you or if you prefer something you can wrap up in and keep really snug.

One alternative is to go for a generous open style and add your own belt when you want to wrap up. Alternative fastenings for closed cardigans include buttons, press studs or zips.

Open Cardigan with Separate Belt
Open Cardigan with Separate Belt
Extra long, open cardigan
Extra long, open cardigan
Cardigan Ensemble with Boots
Cardigan Ensemble with Boots
Paul Michael Glaser (right) in his trademark 'Starsky' Cardigan with David Soul (left) in Starsky and Hutch.
Paul Michael Glaser (right) in his trademark 'Starsky' Cardigan with David Soul (left) in Starsky and Hutch.

The Cardigan Tall Thin Model Trick

There is a good choice of primary colours but choosing a bright shade limits what the cardigan will go with. I prefer to choose a ‘safe’ colour such as Navy Blue, Beige, Grey or Black.

If you are clumsy like me then try to avoid something in too light a shade. Believe me, a spilt cup of coffee will ruin a cream or beige cardigan!

You can also go for sleeveless or short sleeves but I prefer long sleeves that can be rolled up. You can also go for the poncho style cardigan.

When choosing a design, particularly online, beware the tall, thin model trick! Imagine, the girl in the short video on the fashionable website looks fabulous in the long cardigan that has caught your eye.

Bear in mind, that Willow, the model, is probably six foot tall, lives on salad and rusks and is as thin as a rake. Imagine how this cardigan might look on your five feet three frame with your far more generous (and attractive) curves when compared to the dishy rusk eater!

Fabrics and Manufacture

Hand knitted is well worth thinking about if you want something original or are on a tight budget. If you are not handy with the needles yourself, then do you have a friend or relative who could make one for you?

Beware, however, of short-sighted great Grandma who may take the asymmetric look to new heights with varying length sleeves! If money is no object then you could splash out on something hand knitted from a designer website.

I tend to avoid 100% acrylic or artificial fibre. 30% wool or other natural fibre avoids static electricity and feels more comfortable. Combinations of silk, cashmere or cotton can make the garment lighter and smoother to the touch.

If you like your cardigans patterned and multicoloured then consider a traditional style like Fair Isle or Shetland.

Famous Cardigans

Many famous people have favoured cardigans. Think of Starsky, played by Paul Michael Glaser in the hit TV series, Starsky and Hutch, the 1970s detective show.

Americans of a certain age may also remember growing up with Mr Rogers. A Children's TV presenter who always begun his show by putting on his cardigan (TV was so exciting back then!).

Former President Jimmy Carter frequently wore cardigans and Doris Day and Jacqueline Kennedy were also prolific cardigan wearers.


So get ready to wrap up warm in a cosy fashionable cardigan on days when an icy wind blows. If you haven't got anything suitable then why not look on the web for something special?

Choose a warm yet stylish cardigan that is sufficiently classic in style that you can wear it for a number of years to come. You can then update the look each winter with some up to the minute accessories!

Some More Winter Ideas


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