What to wear right now: a cardigan (or two)
The cardigan has a military background. Named after the Seventh Earl of Cardigan, James Thomas Brudenell (1797-1868) who wore a knitted wool, collarless jacket to lead the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, in 1854. Apparently, the army general was a man of great style and arrogance who spent 10 grand a year on new uniforms for his soldiers and introduced the extra knitted layer to stave off the cold. Same here. The Fake Spring From the South has well and truly disappeared…
One cardigan or two?
I’m a firm believer in ‘practising’ style. Experimenting with clothes, putting things on and taking them off again to find the ultimate feel-good outfit, is a simple technique we can all work on. And this season I’m mostly practising layering. First coats, now cardigans. When wearing two similar items over each other, make sure there is a symmetry and that the first garment is smaller than the second so that the two sit together well. Otherwise there may well be a Sleeve Struggle. Another focus is colour consideration, for the latest gentlewomanly outfit I’ve chosen my perennial favourite combination: khaki and navy. The cardigans (one old, one new) are different but compatible shades of green.
During the 20th century the cardigan went from practical and preppy to Hollywood glamour. Coco Chanel created the jersey cardigan suit (a relaxed jacket and pleated, knee skirt) in the 1920s, introducing the garment to women; a couple of decades later Brigitte Bardot wore her knitwear over a Breton top and pencil skirt, while Grace Kelly often layered a cashmere cardigan over a dress. There are many ways to wear the versatile cardigan (and my next look may involve a boiler suit), but with its army green colour and heavy lambswool yarn, my new cardigan harks back to the garment’s military beginnings.
Style details: the top cardigan is from MHL, a birthday gift from Mr That’s Not My Age (good lad). The Breton striped top is Jigsaw. The cashmere cardi underneath is a very old Land’s End gift from my fashion editor days (approximately 20 years ago), the navy cotton trousers are from Rag & Bone (bought about 15 years ago in New York), the white leather Chelsea boots were a gift from Hobbs (from their A/W collection and no longer available).
Hair & makeup: Louise Heywood.
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