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Outfit of the Day: We Need to Talk About Cardigans

By Megan Collins | Apr 11 2012

I would like to come out in defense – fandom even – of the male cardigan. It wasn’t always this way. I used to be staunchly anti-cardigan on guys. Not because I have anything against old man/nerdy chic style. Quite the opposite; I saw too many guys going halfway with their button-down sweaters when they really needed to be all in.

Halfway how? By confusing a cardigan with a long-sleeve tee. Walking around in American Apparel, thin-weave, cotton cardigans that look stretched out after the first wear. You know the ones I’m talking about. You might even have one in your closet right now (insert judge-y pointing finger here). No disrespect to American Apparel (and other clothing companies making the same style), I just think – if you’re going to make a long-sleeve t-shirt, make a t-shirt. Don’t throw buttons on it and call it a cardigan.

Because, by definition, a cardigan is “a type of sweater that buttons down the front.” Key word: sweater. A cardigan that doesn’t keep you at least a little bit toasty is just ornamentation (sort of like my love-hate relationship with guys wearing decorative scarves).

Bottom line: a cardigan that looks and feels like a tee makes an outfit look sloppy. And cheap. Not to say your cardigan can’t be cotton – in fact, most of what you’ll find in stores right now will be made of this lightweight spring material. But make sure your cotton cardi has an interesting weave, a weighty texture…maybe even a blend with an actual sweater material (like the J.Crew version above, a mix of cotton and cashmere). That way, you’ll be sure to top your outfit off right.

Outfit details

Cardigan: J.Crew, $70

Button-down shirt: Steven Alan, $188

Red chambray shorts: Merona, $25

Sneakers: Vans, $55