AH, THE CURSE of corporate-office air-conditioning. As I sit here grumpily at my desk in Midtown Manhattan, I’m wearing my favorite gauzy, white, short-sleeved summer blouse, but you’d never know it because the Arctic air calls for a heavy wool cardigan. Anyone who wants to express a seasonally carefree style message come August and into steamy September tends to resent such artificially chilly conditions. The way out of that bitterness? An insulating layer that’s more interesting-looking than the drab sweater you keep tucked in a file cabinet at work.
Miu Miu, designed by Miuccia Prada, is known for playful sweaters. By splattering on pattern, or adding details like rhinestones or ribbons, the brand injects wit into the world of fuddy-duddy knitwear. This particularly charismatic cotton cardigan is striped in Day-Glo shades of neon pink and green, toned down with mustard-colored hand-knit trim—an exuberant, maximalist palette that gives the wearer permission to combine it with just about anything. Once fall arrives in earnest, its collar and heavy-duty resin buttons make it substantial enough to wear as a lightweight jacket.
Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director at MatchesFashion, advocates for fashion-forward cardigans as a way to boost rather than drag down the delightful summer outfit beneath it. “They can be popped over a summer dress without disguising the fact that [your outfit] is summery,” she said. “By the end of September, beginning of October, it feels too early to wear a coat but certainly not too early to wear a shirt over your dress or something heavier like a cardigan.” After that, if you’re lucky, any shivering will be complemented not by Xerox machines but, as nature intended, by picturesque snow.