the best light summer jacket is...a cardigan
five cardigans for five personas
A few posts ago I talked about needing a light summer jacket. Emphasis on light. I am tired of the literal weight of bulky coats and jackets. Lately even my beloved Courreges jacket is a sensory overload; my shoulders are craving something that fully supports my range of motion. I felt surprised about this wardrobe gap. I stood in front of my closet, pawing through the hangers and drawers thinking surely I had a light summer jacket? something I have forgotten about, folded and tucked away into a storage bin. But nothing turned up.
In the meantime, I was browsing TheRealReal for inspiration. There was a 90s vintage Celine leather jacket I was so close to buying but I had stay be honest to my sensory needs—leather is heavy and always makes my neck feel sore after a few hours of wear.
The jacket search was going nowhere. Because what I really needed and wanted was a cardigan. I’m not sure why it took me so long for that to click. Cardigans are soft knits, hang lightly on the body, easily thrown over a summer tank top or bare shoulders and then stuffed haphazardly into a tote bag.
I can think of two distinct cardigan eras in my lifetime. The first was when I was a teenager and wore a lot of embellished Talbots/Nordstrom Rack/J.Crew Factory cardigans, hand me downs from my mom’s closet. If it had little floral appliques, even better. It was my mall brand approximation of Blair Waldorf’s style. (I do think the J.Crew Jackie cardigan could be poised for a comeback if they release it in retro colors and update the fit). The second was the 2010s duster cardigan era, long thin sheets of fabric with tight arms that brushed at the calves of my skinny jeans. Inspired by the photos plastered on the Lookbook.nu home page.
In terms of cardigans I actually ended up buying: I’ve been wearing the Deco Cardigan from Live the Process on repeat. For $70 on sale I think it’s pretty decent construction and quality. It is the perfect dressy long sleeve - a row of pearly buttons elevate it from a crewneck sweater or stretchy bodycon basics from the likes of Gil Rodriguez.
When I think of the generic cardigan of the 2020s, I think of something slightly chunky, V-neck, with big buttons. You know…the Babaa/Tradlands style cardigan that’s been copied and watered down by Everlane and so forth. I wanted to look for styles beyond that. In my research I came across a few more gems as I consider a more serious investment cardigan purchase. My criteria first and foremost was the yarn composition: it didn’t need to be 100% natural fiber but enough to feel luxurious. I want to feel like I’m wearing baby bunnies on my bare skin. My edit below.