Button Up: How To Be A Cardi-Man
Today as I was walking the streets of New York I was startled to realize that it is in fact June and I needed another layer over my T-shirt. What I really wanted, in fact, was a cardigan. Now given, I’m not a man, nor will I be unless someone slips me some testosterone in my oatmeal. Yet cardigans have definitely weaseled their way into unisex clothing over the past couple of years.
And I know what you’re thinking: hell no. But not only is the cardigan the perfect layer for global warming limbo weather, it hasn’t always been an item exclusive to plain Jane kindergarten teachers or secretaries with names like Thelma, Louise, or anything in between. In fact, the cardigan was named for a British military commander and earl, James Brudenell, who hailed from Cardigan. Not very effete, correct?
One of the most famous, loved, and tragic cardi-fans was Kurt Cobain. He was able to sport the cardigan stylishly mostly because he never wore it stuffily but rather scruffily. He let the five o’clock shadow do its job (reminding the world that, yes, you are a lumberjack or at least heartily manly.) Furthermore, he allowed the cardigans themselves to be nubby casual wear,
not an item that looked purchased by the president of the college republican society.
Similarly, a cardigan will not look excessively librarian-like if worn with clothes with a bit of hardware. Take the look above, which pairs a cardigan with punk rock-detailed pants. The cargo pockets, silver buttons, and belt add enough edge and roughness to balance whatever preconceived notions of cardigans your bro-ish friends might have.
Many a hipster will surely disagree with me on this one, but I also think that a cardigan shies away from looking overdone when worn with a more relaxed fit pant and when fitted but loose through the waist. You don’t want to look like you stole your girlfriend’s sweater after all. The look seen above is far too small, tight, and short. It looks as though he shrank his sweater in the wash or borrowed clothes from his fourteen-year-old sister.
Also, unless you’re eighty-five or older, stay away from shawl collars and cable knits in your sweaters. Yeah, I’m sure 1920’s era fishermen wore them and were terribly masculine types that
could kill things with their bare, calloused hands, but these styles just look outdated and out of place in the modern fashion palette.
If you, like many guys, are trying to look broader through the chest, horizontal stripes on a light sweater will work best. While you might not want to wear a light sweater for practical reasons or for reasons more along the line of sexual insecurity, pale colors will actually make you appear larger. If worn with a slightly relaxed fit over casual pants, a light cardigan will help to accentuate a V-shape through the torso while also widening the appearance of your upper body.
Last but not least (and this should go without saying), you must wear a shirt under a cardigan. Some guys prefer a collared shirt, but I am always one to err on the side of T-shirts. Plus, a well worn-in T-shirt will again keep your look more grunge than GOP.
About TracyOneill Tracy is a freelance writer based out of Brooklyn obsessed with nutritional supplements, mediocre music, audacious (to put it politely) apparel, literary giants, and perfecting the fine art of the Sunday Bloody Mary.