Although men’s magazines have been announcing the return of the male cardigan for the last few years, this spring seems set to be the season the button-up sweater loses its association with frumpy professors and moves mainstream.
Several houses have versions that take the simple sweater and elevate it into a serious alternative to a suit jacket for office wear. These range from Dunhill’s simple cotton-and linen take ($500) to Zilli’s, with crocodile inlays and chinchilla lining ($20,000).
Some designers have gone even further. Salvatore Ferragamo, among others, has a double-breasted offering. And others are even trying to move the cardigan into eveningwear. Paul Smith’s version incorporates a shawl neck, and is meant to serve as a black-tie alternative to the tuxedo ($250)
The cardigan is a long way from being a workplace alternative to the suit, but it’s already moving in that direction. Sean Kinmont, managing partner and creative director of the brand communications agency 23red, recently told the Financial Times: “The cardigan is a wardrobe essential,” he says. “I own not just one, but one for every occasion. I’m wearing a two-tone Paul Smith number now, for example, but I also have a grey Brooks Brothers version at home.”