THE topic of men and knitwear has always aroused strong reactions in women – it’s like marmite: you either love it or hate it. The ski slopes are a particularly divisive arena for observing the male in action sporting knits. Even resorts as chi-chi as Verbier and Courchevel become a jamboree of outlandish bobble hats and jumpers patterned with Norwegian reindeer and snowflakes.
However, nothing raises the female brow in cynical mirth more than the idea of the man’s cardigan. Associated imagery tends to be more grandpa than sexy, smart professional. That said, the last few seasons’ menswear catwalks have made space for a more straight-faced reception of the cardigan. And if a man understands how to wear one, he can look not only trendy but extremely attractive too. No better proof of this is needed, surely, than the recent spotting of Daniel Craig out and about in a dark, sleek variety, worn over a tie and shirt.
Ronnie Blue, a menswear expert, says: “Cardigans can be gorgeous on men but you have to get them right. Personally, I love a shawl collar and a chunky knit, particularly in charcoal grey. There are lots of argyle and fair-isles knits around at the moment so it’s very on trend. You could also go the Mad Men route and wear a light-wear slim fit cardie over a tailored shirt and trousers.”
What not to do? “Never go for patterned slouchy,” says Blue. “Never. They’re awful from a style perspective and a female one.”
Indeed, there is the chance your girlfriend or wife will simply walk out on you if you stroll home in a cardie, of whatever hue. Lydia Brown, a stockbroker, says: “I’d be disappointed if my boyfriend put one on. I think they’d be a bit emasculating. I don’t even like cardigans on me.”
Amanda Truelove, a commodities analyst and avid fashionista, is less fearful of the “mandigan”, even relishing it so long as it’s worn well. And, crucially, by the right man. “I love a man who rocks a cardigan, but he has to have a good body, and wear it with confidence. In the office, it has to be smart and be able to go under a jacket. So as long as the cardie doesn’t have duffle coat buttons, it should be fine for work. Oh, and no chunky knits. It must be a lean cardigan.” For lean, chunky or whatever style your lady might desire, try Merc (merc.com), Pringle (pringlescotland.com), Thom Brown and the brands mentioned above.