While I can't speak for how everybody else feels about this article of clothing, I can say in my impression few have mastered it. I certainly haven't. Off the top of my head, Mr. Rogers and Kurt Cobain are two people to have adorned themselves with the awkward garment in an unusual grace and unique style. (Seriously, I thought of these two off the top of my head, and after some research into the sweater, to my surprise, I found that reference.com confirms it, listing both the late songwriter and children's storyteller as two of the most "notable wearers of cardigans.")
Anyway, it appears the comic writer Larry David also might be heading up the elevator of cardigan expertise as well.
According to Wikipedia, an free online encyclopedia, the cardigan sweater's original master was James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan and a British military commander during the Crimean War. In its long history, the cardigan has transformed from a garment once worn by a proud war monger to something worn by a soft spoken old man who spends most of his time in an imaginary world of puppets. How that happened is a testament to its flexibility and strangeness.
One of the central difficulties is classification. What is it? Obviously it's easily distinguishable from a pull over. Harry in "Dumb and Dumber" told me that. "No, it's a cardigan but thanks for noticing."
But even the encyclopedia couldn't define it concisely describing it as "sweater/jumper."
Its function also is just as confusing. If it's worn over something like a T-shirt, the cardigan takes on the form of a wind breaker, jacket, or jumper. If its worn over a collared shirt, it probably would be more useful to term it as a sweater.
But what if it's worn beneath a coat? What is it then? That brings up another important question about the cardigan. How should it be worn? If its under a coat presumably it would be worn like a sweater buttoned up. But that looks kind of hokie.
The fashion gods also threw me a real curve ball recently when I received two cardigan sweaters with zippers for a birthday gift. Don't get me wrong I enjoy both very much. But the zipper just confuses things more. With the zipper I'm tempted to close it up, which is fine outside. But when I go inside should I unzip?
Another thing, the zipper just leaves too much temptation to half-zip, which is probably another questionable fashion move.
The holiday season might be the prime one for the cardigan, and I like it. I think as far as clothing goes it has a lot of potential. But for Christmas, some one should give the garment a clear, fashion decorum.
Justin Boron is the government writer for the News Daily. His column runs Mondays. He can be reached at (770)-478-5753 x 281 or at firstname.lastname@example.org .