Summer Cardigans

The strange thing that many seem to forget about summer is how much time you actually spend outside because of the pleasant weather. Dining al fresco is common at this time of year. As is drinking in street cafes, late walks through the park, barbecues and picnics; there is a much greater emphasis on spending time outside, even when the sun has long set. Naturally, at warmer times, people are prepared to wear clothing to suit the climate. It’s sensible not to be overdressed; sweating away in multiple layers is ill advised. But so, I would argue, is leaving the casual knitwear at home to shiver with cold in the surprising cool of an evening. No matter how warm the day, perching yourself outside for an extended duration as the evening draws in and the temperature falls is inadvisable unless you have suitable clothing to keep you warm.

One of the most sensible items to take with you is a cardigan. A cardigan is a smart addition to an outfit if you happen to be wearing shorts and it is rather a happy medium between the ever so casual jumper and the much more formal jacket. They are fantastically versatile for the summer as well. I have a strange habit of getting cold upper arms when the shock cool of a summer evening arrives and I can slip on a cardigan, unbuttoned, and rejoice in the pleasant and subtle warmth. The question is; what type of cardigan is most appropriate and why.

1. The thicker cardigan

Thicker and heavier cardigans are better when you are more exposed to the elements. They can feel a little bulky for very warm days, even when worn undone but they can still look appropriate and stylish with most ensembles. Some of the best colours for such cardigans are navy blue, white and red; simple and classic colours, adaptable and masculine. They are particularly suitable, and befitting, for extended visits to the coast where the cool breeze over the sea can really chill a summer night. One of the key elements of this type is the attractive shawl collar, a feature of comforting elegance that can be turned up for increased protection from the cold.

2. The silk-cashmere cardigan

The silk-cashmere cardigan is indispensible in the summertime. Elegant in the glorious ripple of material, the pleasant texture and wonderful touch against the skin, it remains beautifully casual when open, falling gracefully at the sides of the torso. If it cools up later on, it can be buttoned and if it is really punishingly hot in the middle of the day, it can be artfully draped over the shoulders. Black and white are fantastic colours, again for reasons of versatility. Pima cotton is an acceptable alternative if silk-cashmere is considered too extravagant but the material will pill with extensive use.

3. The cable cardigan

It’s rather like ‘the thicker cardigan’ in construction, but the cable cardigan is a little special; the cabling and subtle off white colour are perfect for summertime and it is an excellent option for more traditional outfits. Whether worn with a favourite pair of shorts or some elegant chinos, it will give you an aura of an Edwardian sportsman; genteel with a good punch of nostalgia, and this ‘sporty’ aspect to the garment is appropriate for family picnics with a quick game of cricket (or indeed baseball).