Undoubtedly, a cardigan sweater is a perfect layer for transitional weather. A cardigan has an open front and is frequently associated with the college culture of the 1920s -30s... and with grandfathers.
Many gents are confused with the definition of the cardigan sweater. The most common sartorial question bros ask me is: what's the difference between a cardigan, a hoodie and a jacket? Well, this can be a rhetorical question. No accurate answer is expected simply because there is no standard definition. Some brands advertise cardigans as jackets and viceversa.
However, for the sake of this publication, a cardigan sweater is an open front garment with buttons, full frontal zippers, or without buttons or zippers... it just hangs open by design. A hoodie is a close-fitting sweatshirt with a hood and with a large pocket in front. A jacket has a front opening with a collar, lapels and pockets. A jacket usually is never worn as a layering garment; i.e., it can never be worn inside a blazer.
The cardigan sweater comes in a variety of materials, from acrylic and cotton, to cashmere and wool. Generally, this classic garment can be worn throughout different seasons, depending on its thickness and color. Usually pastel or bright color cardigans are geared to spring and summer, while dark blues, greys, the classic black and beiges are often seen during autumn and winter.
Image above: Bold Stripes Shawl Collar Cardigan by Express, $79.90. Stretch V-Neck T-Shirt by H&H, $9.99. Harem Black Jogger Sweatpants by American Stitch, $44.95. Double or Nothing Leather Slip-On Sneaker by Kenneth Cole New York, $138.00.
HOW TO WEAR A CARDIGAN SWEATER
The cardigan sweater etiquette is very important.
If you are wearing a button-up piece, I strongly recommend leaving the top and bottom buttons undone. From an aesthetic point, the unbuttoned bottom button will balance the V-shape of the upper portion. The unbuttoned top button will help create an illusion of having a longer torso, making you look a little taller. By following this recommendation, no one will dare to mention the word grandfather around you. Guaranteed.
If you opt for a full frontal zip cardigan sweater, don't be afraid to zip it all the way up. The traits of height, masculinity, and "straight-up dominant" are bound together when you exercise this action.
Image above: Full-Zip Cardigan by Reaction Kenneth Cole, $69.00. Slim Jeans by Zara Man, $35.90.
If your beer belly is noticeable, then zipping it all the way up may not be adequate for you. Instead, just let it hang open. Step-up your game by opting for a preppier look or simply by sporting a V-neck shirt. The trick is to adopt a monochromatic look, including your cardigan sweater. A monochromatic look means wearing one color head to toe. It can be different shades of the same color.
Tip: Monochromatic looks will always make you look taller. I strongly recommend midnight blues, charcoals and the classic black. You can never go wrong with these color options.
The fit is very important. This garment will always adapt to your body figure. The length is crucial: it needs to cover your belt. If you are planning to wear a trim cardigan, make sure your v-neck shirt or your undershirt is slim too. Don't over do it. If you follow my advice of the unbuttoned buttons and your cardigan is too tight, it's going to look like you are sporting a corset. Not bueno.
Image above: Black Melange Cardigan by H&M, $49.95. Charcoal Muscle Fit T-Shirt by Armani Exchange, $69.99. Black Slim Fit Pants by Red Saks Fifth Avenue, $99.99. Prospect Park Reversible Belt (BLK/BRN) By Kenneth Cole, $35. Black Mitar Slip-On Dress Shoes by Hugo Boss, $225.
FOR THE TRENDY DUDES
If you are infatuated with European trends, I recommend cashmere trim patterned cardigans. Keep your pants and top understated to provide supreme protagonism to your cardigan sweater. If you opt for a monochromatic look, dare to wear a scarlet red, an olive green, or a mustard yellow.
Because the autumn/winter season is about the 1970s fashion, a turtleneck shirt accompanied with a fitted cardigan will help you achieve the desired european look regardless of your geographic location.