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A Stitch In Time


Nice try Taylor Swift, but we all know A Country Practice’s Esme Watson is still the queen of the cardigan.


Chunky cable cardigans, slouchy woollen cocoon coats, bouclé knits draped over shoulders. No, I’m not referring to the fashions spotted at a sherry-soaked nursing home happy hour, but the height of 2020 fashion.

The humble cardi has staged the ultimate comeback this winter, coming out of the retirement to become the knitwear hero of the season.

From colourful and cropped to long and slouchy; collegiate sweater designs to neatly buttoned styles; cardigans are no longer something you own “just in case it gets cold,” they are a bona fide fashion statement.

The resurgence of the retro staple can be dated back to August last year when, Katie Holmes, far from the creek, was spotted in New York city wearing an oatmeal cardigan, strategically slipped off one shoulder and paired with a matching cashmere bralette. It heralded the dawn of a new era for the cardi and was henceforth dubbed the “sexigan”.

Since then, the knitted numbers have been adopted by models and it girls Bella Hadid, Jeanne Damas, Emily Ratajkowski and Kaia Gerber who have been snapped in stitches that are cropped to reveal a smidgeon of stomach, deliberately buttoned with a single fastening to flash as much flesh as possible and draped insouciantly over the shoulders like an off-duty, cuddlier version of the 9-5 blazer.

But the credit for cementing the comeback and making it mainstream ultimately goes to pop star and authenticity activist, Taylor Swift, who has released a new single, Cardigan from her “surprise” album, Folklore. 


The knitwear steps into spotlight for the lyric’s refrain: “And when I felt like I was an old cardigan / Under someone’s bed / You put me on and said I was your favourite.”



Sure, the singer may be using the cardigan as a metaphor for a relationship, but T-Swizzle has a point: one person’s fuzzy, frothy, slightly frumpy cardi, is another person’s treasure. 

The accompanying music video cleverly shows Swift fighting in her noble corner for the right to comfort dressing, snuggled in an oversize knit. A similar cream cardi to the embroidered one worn by the star in the clip, is also for sale on her merch site, turning the theme of her song into a wearable mascot.

Now, every millennial with a keyboard is hunting down a style to suit them. The problem is that for Swift, the cardigan is merely a seasonal trend. If you really want a fashion muse who has cardigans stitched into their style DNA, look no further than Esme Watson, of A Country Practice fame.

Now here is a woman who had a cardi for every occasion. Wandin Valley’s resident gossip, keen lawn bowler and mean lamington baker knew the versatility of the woolly staple; for her the cardigan wasn’t an afterthought, it was a cornerstone of the wardrobe.

Of course looking at Ms Watson makes you realise the real affection for the cardigan, and perhaps why the world is suddenly craving wrapping themselves in a cardi.

A cardigan is the sartorial equivalent of comfort food. It’s just the right woollen blend of warmth, protection and nostalgia.

In this new age of social distancing, the palpable cosiness of a cardigan might just be the closest thing we get to a hug. And we could all do with one of those in 2020.

Shop the look: Australian-made cardigans

ABOUT THE WRITER

Anna Byrne grew up in Bendigo in regional Victoria before moving to Melbourne where she enjoyed a decade-long career as a columnist for the Herald Sun, becoming one of Australia’s most recognised lifestyle voices. Renowned for her insightful and humorous musings on the world of fashion and beyond, her take on style is both witty and refreshingly non-elitist. Anna loves musicals, McLaren Vale Chardonnay, the Melbourne footy club and can quote Muriel’s Wedding, verbatim. A passionate campaigner for small business, Anna is excited to join Buy Aussie Now as a freelance contributor. 

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