I have this particularly significant cardigan.
This is both abnormal and ridiculous, I realise. But it’s there, hanging in my wardrobe, a symbol of what has gone before. I bought it on holiday – a holiday that was, on all accounts, an unmitigated disaster. My friend and travel companion, to spare the tedium I found in my parents aged fourteen, had her bag stolen in the same shop from which my cardigan was purchased.
I was something of a freshman to shopping then; previous years were more concerned with coats for the mud and polo shirts in a varied display of sensible, presentable colours. And so it came to pass that the day I bought the cardigan, happened to be a day of petty crime. Which can only teach us one thing: never put your bag down.
Two summers later, after it had travelled further around the world, I wore it to the pub. The Black Eyed Peas’s I’ve Got a Feeling played on the radio the night before I left: I’ll never forget it. And that night, a balmy August evening, the week of A Level results and a week before my GCSE results, I kissed a boy. The boy, etc. And so the cardigan became the lucky cardigan, or at least the cardigan that that happened in. Terrifyingly, I found that it became almost impossible to wear again; a constant shadow was cast over it, rendering it null and void in my ever-expanding wardrobe.
It became the piece I was dying to wear, but couldn’t – the cardigan that still went with everything but remained shut away in a strange preservation of the past.
And then, and then, I went through a proper cardigan phase. Sixth form dress code enabled my rainbow cardie collection (cheers, Zara) to have daily outings. Largely these were v-neck button-up cashmere blends, though if I was feeling spicy – read Open Day and showing parents round – I’d opt for a twinset type. A totally done up cardigan, long-sleeved and buttoned has a particular charm that, until recently, I thought was reserved for the older lady. For my boss, a true fashion doyenne.
But now, it being almost-winter (I will not admit this until it is properly cold) the cardigan seems en vogue once more. Hedi Slimane’s grungeathon did it some favours, revealing the sloppy woolly cardie as a stand out collection piece. But only if you’re into that whole fallen about of bed vibe, which I’m not. So that one isn’t much good for me. But online browsing, as I am so regularly prone to indulging in, shows a renewal of cardigans.
Topshop and Zara have one in every colour and material. There’s cashmere, cotton and the super-fluffy. Fluff-tastic cardigans ought to get my vote, but one must bear in mind the inevitable moulting. For something more grown up, try Cos, the bringer of Celine styles to the high street. Stradivarius, Zara’s little sister, is king pin for sloppier styles.
It’s funny that this summer I found the scarlet cardigan of the summer of 2009 hanging on the back of my office chair, on call for an air-con emergency and days when the sun has hidden a little behind the clouds. It came back for another round. And that, I feel, is a lap of honour.
Click through my cardigan shopping picks below.