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Knitwear & Sweaters

Four ways to wear a cardigan

Four ways to wear a cardigan

A cardigan is one of the most effective pieces in your wardrobe, whatever the weather. In summer, it’s relaxed outerwear that fits an evening chill (or overeager air conditioner); in winter, it’s the perfect layer for adding warmth but not bulk. Unfortunately, this practicality means the cardigan has also developed a rep for being a touch fusty. But if you choose the right style, it doesn’t have to be accessorised with a packet of Wether’s Originals.

“Fit is key,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “You want a style that suits your frame, and this obviously varies from guy to guy. Don’t go too long or loose. The latter can look slouchy and distort your silhouette, so opt for a mid-weight fabric and a fastening that starts no lower than the middle of your breastbone.” To avoid looking older than you are, it’s also smart to swerve anything argyle. “Patterns can easily confuse your look. Keeping it simple will result in the utmost versatility.”

Once you’ve got the perfect piece, there’s no limit to how you can wear it. “Cardigans are versatile, easy to dress up or down at will, and make for a great layering piece,” says Freddie. “There’s bound to be something it matches in your wardrobe.”

The slimline cardigan

V-neck cardigan

Photographed: MVP blazer (£65); MVP cardigan (£40); MVP shirt (£24); Reiss chinos (£110); Oliver Sweeney shoes (£199)

As a rule, crewnecks are more flattering with V-necks. But the opposite can be true with something that buttons up. “A slim fitting cardigan with a V-shaped neckline is a great style for dressing up, and can provide a sharp alternative to a waistcoat,” says Freddie.

How to wear it well: Slot the cardigan beneath tailored pieces, and ensure the colour chimes with that of the rest of your outfit. “The best fit is one that’s close to the body,” says Freddie. “Keep buttons and details simple, too.”

The chunky-knit cardigan

Chunkier cardigan

Photographed: Oliver Sweeney cardigan (£179); Ralph Lauren shirt (£109); MVP chinos (£30); Clarks boots (£95)

Thicker knits are ideal for winter. But they can add more to your wardrobe than warmth. “A heavier material means more texture and that means more depth in your look,” says Freddie. “That’s vital when dressing up for the cold.”

How to wear it well: Since the chunky knit adds bulk, don’t stuff it below anything form-fitting – the material will bunch up and add lumps in unusual places. If you add a coat, make sure it’s got some breathing space, and keep all the layers below on the slimmer side, so the cardigan is the centre of attention.

The button-up cardigan

Button-up cardigan

Photographed: Oliver Spencer cardigan (£249); A.P.C indigo jeans (£135); Novesta white trainers (£55)

As the most traditional of the cardigans, the button-up tempers any connotations of nerdiness with decades of Ivy League cool. “A button-up cardigan fastens all the way to the neckline and boasts a spread collar,” says Freddie. “It’s more of an outerwear alternative for milder days.”

How to wear it well: “Stick to simple shades of navy and neutral,” says Freddie. “Since the button-up is a classic piece, it makes sense to pair with other staples, for a look that’s got a lot of heritage.”

The zip-up cardigan

Zip-up cardigan

Photographed: Paul Smith cardigan (£150); Percival jacket (£159); MVP chinos (£30); MVP shirt (£28); Grenson boots (£425)

By switching from buttons to zips, you immediately make a cardigan feel more youthful, without the need to add bold colours or patterns. “There’s a sporty feel with the zip-up, and that’s something we’ve seen growing in popularity over the years,” says Freddie.
How to wear it well: Balance the sportier feel with tailored pieces, for a look that sits on the more relaxed side of smart-casual. “Zip-up cardigans work best when they’re simple and in wearable colours,” says Freddie. “Grey, black and navy should be your go-tos.”