From Marilyn Monroe in a shawl-collar number to Prince George in a blue button-up cardie, here are some of the memorable knitwear moments of the last 100 years

10. Katie Holmess bradigan (2019)

The cardigan x the internet. A new-style twinset with a caption-friendly compound moniker, Katie Holmess Khaite cashmere bra-and-cardie combination became the first cardigan to go viral when an obliging paparazzi caught the moment it slipped off her shoulder just the right amount as she lifted her arm to hail a taxi. The look was such a hit that the bradigan (and an excellent late-summer suntan) rebooted the Katie Holmes brand almost as effectively as, say, landing a whopping contract with Marvel, or having a secret love affair with Justin Trudeau*. The cardigan, but make it fashion. (*Let the record state that this particular rumour is obviously ludicrous, although, when you think about it, Trudeau does look a bit like Cruise so you can see how it started.) Jess Cartner-Morley

9. Riris dress cardigan (2013)

Rihanna attends the Chanel show as part of Paris Fashion Week, 2013. Photograph: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis via Getty Images

Unlike the jumper dress a look often derided for making the wearer look as if they have forgotten their skirt the cardigan as a dress has the advantage of buttons, and thus the opportunity for the purposeful abandonment of not only skirts and trousers, but tops, too. Rihanna wore this ankle-grazing cardie to Chanels autumn/winter haute couture show in 2013, where what she lacked in underwear she made up for in pearls. The cardigan dress is a look the singer has returned to on numerous occasions including earlier this year when she wore an oversized camo cardigan by Miu Miu following her first Savage x Fenty lingerie show in New York. Never have the words granny and cardigan felt further apart. Leah Harper

8. Danny Zukos Rydell High cardigan in Grease (1978)

What is this, Halloween? ask the T-Birds when Greases Danny Zuko swaps his black leather jacket for a white and red Rydell High-branded cardie towards the end of this vintage romcom. John Travoltas slicked back hair and black jeans remain; rarely has a cardigan signified such a stark personality shift. Of course, this is not any old cardie: its sporty, its preppy, it belongs, really, in the wardrobe of annoyingly clean-cut love-rival Tom Chisum. And it is only worn for a little over a minute being quickly shrugged off after Sandy rocks up with a perm and a cigarette but it is a look that has been emulated albeit, often with a sense of irony ever since. Grease may be the word, but varsity cardie is undoubtedly the look. LH

7. The Big Lebowski cardie (1998)

Jeff Bridges as Jeffrey the Dude Lebowski. Photograph: Merrick Morton/Polygram/Working Title/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

Ah, the Dude. A hero to those of us who hate phones, abhor schedules and whose immediate response to authority is to roll our eyes into the back of our heads. Post-slacker and Kevin Smith and pre-Judd Apatow stoner (hi, Seth Rogan, Jonah Hill), The Dude became the ultimate cinematic antihero. And this cardigan, a bulky, Cowichan knit was his superhero outfit. On another body, this is less of a cardigan and more of a bro-digan the sort of thing worn by a character in a 50s musical who is about to chop down some trees and quickly build a cabin in the woods. But in the Dudes hands it signalled a life lived off the beaten track, off the clock and following the beat of your own drum. To paraphrase the great man, that cardigan really ties the room together. Priya Elan

6. The Clueless fluff-cuffed cardigan (1995)

Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz in Clueless. Photograph: Youtube

Cher and Dionnes tartan skirt suits are sartorial scene stealers in this coming of age comedy, but beneath their blazer jackets sit the co-ordinated cardigans that cement this looks place in fashion history. But Cher (played by Alicia Silverstone) was also a sucker for a feather trim and her fluff-cuffed cardie has inspired many a 90s look in the years since just take a look at Ukrainian brand Sleepers signature party pyjamas. It might not be Chers most capable looking outfit, but she certainly deserves snaps for her courageous fashion efforts. LH

5. Prince Georges blue cardie (2015)

Prince George in his royal-blue cardigan. Photograph: Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Weve all been there: you look back at clothes your mum put you in and shake your head in disbelief, whether this was the strangely ornate knitted onesie that looked as if it was made for a 14th-century baby king or the PJs that went matchy-matchy with a sibling (despite the fact she was eight years older than you). So its surprising that Kate, Duchess of Cambridge was so on point with this sartorial choice for Prince George: a (yes) royal blue knit with five pearl-coloured buttons that gave George the look of a mischievous cartoon elf about to create havoc in a magical kingdom. Its so good that we, as fully grown, non-infant humans, might consider replicating the look IRL. PE

4. Kurt Cobains MTV Unplugged cardigan (1994)

Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged.
Photograph: Frank Micelotta Archive/Getty Images

Lit by swathes of violet light and featuring long black Roman candles and huge white lilies, the visuals of Nirvanas MTV Unplugged (released seven months after Kurt Cobains suicide) had the deep portent of Anton Corbijns Joy Division photographs. Instead of playing as the opener of Nirvanas third act, the Unplugged show now played like a funeral waltz; a chilling premonitory evocation of what was to happen. In the accompanying video, the closeups of Kurts face were haunting: framed by his dirty, wheat-coloured hair and piercing blue eyes, frame after frame now suggested a broken man who had ascended to the position of sad angel. Central to this aesthetic was Kurts cardigan. Made of smooth, dreamy mohair, his unwashed, cigarette-burned, olive-green cardie became the Turin shroud of indie rock, as he ascended to the patron saint of musical sorrow. PE

3. Cocos cardigan and cravat (circa 1925)

Coco Chanel is often credited with popularising cardigans for women but it was born out of her penchant for masculine clothing (at the time, cardigans were mostly heavy, long, and marketed to macho automobile drivers) and, apparently, her dislike of the way mens pullovers would mess up her hair when pulling them over her head. Pictured with her friend Vera Bate Lombardi in Scotland, Chanel is wearing her cardigan with a cravat, hat and tweed jacket. She also designed her own tweed cardigan jackets using light boucle wools in pastel colours which in an early blurring of the line between mens and womens fashions gave the garment greater appeal with women. Chanels cardigans were also predominantly designed to be worn indoors revolutionary! LH

2. Marilyn Monroe on Santa Monica beach (1962)

I think we can agree that Marilyn Monroe knew how to do sexy. And long before Successions Logan Roy made the shawl-collar cardigan a thing, Monroe showed the world a chunky, cosy knit could pack a punch. George Barriss photographs of her in a chunky graphic cardigan belted with a silk-robe looseness, platinum hair sideswept in the sea breeze, are a bluechip style reference. The cardigan fetched $167,500 when it was sold by Monroes estate at auction. Gigi Hadid with movie-star waves and winged eyeliner, opening Maxmaras autumn 2015 catwalk show in a sensuous camel cashmere coat, was one of many homages. Just add jeans for your Boxing Day walk look. JCM

1. Michelle Obamas cream J-Crew knit (2009)

As a symbol of Michelle Obamas mastery of soft-power semiotics, this cardie is pretty apposite. Worn for her first visit to London to meet Sarah Brown (wife of the then prime minister, Gordon Brown), it is sparkly and upbeat, a souped-up version of the sort of garment women everywhere use to counteract the sexist chill of office air-conditioning. As Flotus, whether in the pages of Vogue or on inauguration day, Obamas dedication to buttoned-up knits was unparalleled. She even wore one to meet the Queen, a choice Oscar de la Renta slammed, saying: You dont go to Buckingham Palace in a sweater. Well, she did and it was great. Not to get too nostalgic, but there is something lovely about the fact that Obamas go-to cover-up was something so understated and soft-edged professional but in a cosy, approachable way. Clearly, there is a gulf between this and the highly tailored, armour-like suits favoured by the current establishment. Hannah Marriott



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