How cardigans reclaimed their sex appeal and became trendy again

Taylor Swift's new song, 'Cardigan', has pushed the clothing item into the spotlight again. Although, its rise in popularity over the recent years was probably more driven by social media. Photo composite: Instagram/@taylornation, @jw_anderson

Cardigans (otherwise known as sweaters) were once thought of as old-fashioned. For the longest time, they were perceived as a dull fashion choice – the type of clothing item that fits a more mature style.

Then, cardigans got the influencer treatment. Famous personalities started posting snaps of themselves wearing a cardigan with nothing underneath. The “sexy cardigan” trend was thus born.

In September of 2018, model Bella Hadid was photographed in Paris sporting a casual outfit. It comprised heeled combat boots, mom jeans, a leopard-print belt and a mustard-coloured cardigan.

“The modest secretary sweater has gotten a sassy makeover..., ” Vogue magazine wrote in a story, as the fashion world began taking notice. It resulted in an image boost for cardigans everywhere.

Hadid did it again last year. In December, she wore a chic cream-coloured cardigan while out on a yacht. She paired it with white shorts, a headband and chunky gold jewellery for a cool, casual look.

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When Katie Holmes was pictured wearing hers hanging around her shoulders, and with a cashmere bra underneath, it set tongues wagging. Fellow actress Kristen Stewart has even been spotted wearing one on the red carpet.

Cardigans had a bit of a moment in the 1990s. Cameron Diaz’s character in There’s Something About Mary wore a modest cardigan with a cleavage-baring slinky tank top. It was an iconic look.

They were hailed as a big trend on the Autumn/Winter 2019 runways. For Spring/Summer 2020, Miu Miu presented cardigans as off-the-shoulder tops. Marc Jacobs included cardigans into its Autumn/Winter 2020 collection.

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In February this year, Harry Styles wore a chunky, patchwork cardigan during a rehearsal ahead of appearing on The Today Show. The hashtag #harrystylescardigan exploded on TikTok.

You could say the rise in popularity for cardigans is probably driven by a need for comfort clothing. Lockdown dressing – which calls for comfortable yet chic clothes – had a hand in fuelling the trend in the past months.

Of course, Taylor Swift’s new song helped push cardigans in the spotlight. Aptly titled Cardigan, it is part of her eight and latest album (written under lockdown), Folklore, which was released on July 24.

“When I felt like I was an old cardigan under someone’s bed, you put me on and said I was your favourite, ” she sings. Unsurprisingly, there is a cardigan for sale as part of the Folklore merchandise.

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