The Virtues of Little Cardigans

 
A few years ago, I participated in a panel discussion on careers in litigation at my alma mater. One of the other panelists, reflecting on how awesomely his life had turned out, told the assembled students, “You have to be in the right place at the right time.” The despair of these soon-to-be graduates was palpable, so I felt compelled to point out that “being in the right place at the right time” isn’t a job search strategy or even a career path, but rather a backward-looking rationalization — and that the students should take heart because what might appear to be luck is often the result of commitment, flexibility, and the ability to pounce on an opportunity when it appears.
 
The same is true of little cardigans. Like many job opportunities, you can’t will them to appear and in hindsight they all seem like lucky finds. Maybe, maybe not.
 
Little cardigans — by which I mean cropped and fitted cardigans — are just the thing to wear over a sleeveless dress or blouse. I may be particularly fond of this style because I am short, but I think the proportions work on women of every height. Taller women may find, however, that a regular cardigan in a size down from their regular size may achieve the same look.
 
And now a retrospective of The Directrice in a variety of little cardigans!

All's quiet now
Nanette Lepore fringed cardigan tones down hideo-marvelous blouse in Auntie Mame Returns
Pay no mind to the cat on the table
L’Agence wrap sweater defines the waist in The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit Re-Mixed
2
Half-sleeve JCrew cardigan provides just enough warmth in Cathedral or Jungle?

Soft jacket
Snug Talbots knit double-breasted jacket follows the dress’s lines in Perfect Dress
As is this
Roberto Cavalli Class shrug shows off waistband in Perfect Dress
And ends like this
Magaschoni cardigan adds warmth and substance without overwhelming in Warm as Toast

 
I have accumulated a number of these useful things over the years, but mine, unfortunately, are no longer available in retail locations. So I went looking for some close facsimiles for you and this is what I found:

Nanette Lepore Corset Cardi; showing this in fuschia so that you can see the design, but would buy it in black
Nanette Lepore Corset Cardi; showing this in fuschia so that you can see the design, but would buy it in black
Nanette Lepore Side Stitch Cardi; comes in black and steel grey, which would be my choices
Nanette Lepore Side Stitch Cardi; comes in black and steel grey, which would be my choices

P.A.R.O.S.H. Cardigan from YOOX
P.A.R.O.S.H. Cardigan from YOOX
Diane Von Furstenberg Ballerina Wrap Sweater in ivory; also comes in black
Diane Von Furstenberg Ballerina Wrap Sweater in ivory; also comes in black
Pure Collection Crop Cashmere Cardigan
Pure Collection Crop Cashmere Cardigan

 
And for anyone who liked my oddly-shaped, funnel neck, micro-cardigan from Anthropologie, I found some excellent stand-ins.
Local Apparel
Local Apparel; I see this with a tweed or more informal wool dress, possibly with a ribbon tie added to it . . . would also be cute with jeans
Liu * Jo
Liu * Jo; here, too, a ribbon tie or button and button-loop closure could be added

8 thoughts on “The Virtues of Little Cardigans

  1. Yes yes yes! You are so right on both careers and cardigans (is that perhaps an undiscovered Jane Austen novel?). I never stopped to think about it, but yes, I love them for all the reasons you say. Will have to check these out, as I only really have warm-weather options. Love the examples both on you and that you found.

  2. Very timely blog as we all hunt newer, more snug, and less voluminous jackets to wear above flared skirts and the newer wide leg pants. Thanks for all the ideas. Kate

    • Kate — So true. Something fitted on top is needed to balance all that volume on the bottom. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  3. Directrice – I hate to be a male-basher but that comment that the male panelist made was SO TYPICAL. Great that you stepped in with better, more realistic advice. Ditto on the l’il cardigans. My default is to throw on one of those flowy, unstructured ones that are so prevalent these days, but that often detracts from the outfit. Now I know what I must do. (And to counter my earlier male-bashing, I will add that my dear husband has very wisely and constructively pointed out the problem with the oversized cardigans.)

    • In the words of the Cornelia Bryant (Anne’s House of Dreams), “Isn’t that just like a man!” (It’s not a question.) But of course not all men. Not your husband, or my husband. Or my dad or your dad. Good luck in the search for little cardigans.

  4. Just the other day, I just ordered myself a cropped cashmere cardigan, which I await eagerly. I was feeling guilty about the expenditure, but your post made me feel better.

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