The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

February 20, 2013

BICKER: Let’s show a little love for the cardigan

By Angie Bicker
Lifestyle Editor

CLINTON — A fashion craze is spreading through the newsroom like wildfire.

Its style is timeless and its look is chic.

Since this craze has impacted my closet in a big way, I have dubbed this new fashion statement, “The Katie.”

My co-worker, Katie Dahlstrom, loves cardigans. Thus, her love for this endearing piece of clothing has filtered down to me. It’s an amazing accessory that has been overlooked in my wardrobe. I can honestly say that I owned a few cardigans before I met Katie, but now, because of her daily attire, I own more and can’t help but look at them every time I go shopping. Looking at cardigans has become as commonplace as looking and admiring all of the different chicken breeds in my Murray McMurray Hatchery chicken catalogue.

According to Wikipedia, the cardigan was named after James Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, a British Army major general who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War. Today’s garment is modeled after the knitted wool waistcoat that British officers wore during the war.

Cardigans have evolved over time from keeping fishermen warm out on the high seas to clothing professors in the world of academia to becoming a signature style for both men and women. Unbeknownst to Mr. Brudenell, I’m sure, the cardigan has become a very trendy piece of clothing. It can be worn with a T-shirt, it can come in all shades of colors and it can be used to dress something up or down.

Since Katie owns 40 cardigans, I couldn’t help but ask her the other day when the love affair began.

“It all started in high school. I was really into punk rock, thrift stores and collecting pins. (My) freshman year (I) started wearing cardigans that I adorned with my hundreds of pins. Add a vintage T-shirt, men’s dress pants and Chuck Taylors and you have my basic high school wardrobe and the roots of my cardigan love. I think I have worn a cardigan or sweater every day for the past, oh, six years.”

I have a long way to go to catch up with Katie; I only have about nine cardigans. Like my fashionable co-worker, I’m loving their “versatility.” I recently purchased a short, black cardigan with puckered sleeves. I can wear it with my little black dress or I can pair it with a tank top and pair of jeans.

Katie’s love affair or addiction, as she calls it, is evident. She wears them 365 days of the year — spring, summer, winter and fall. Even on a 100-degree day, with an egg frying on the sidewalk, Katie can be found wearing a cardigan. So, what is the appeal?

“I can wear one to feel more professional or put together or to take a sleeveless shirt and make it winter appropriate. I can also wear a cardigan if I want my outfit to be more interesting or fun. I can put a button or brooch on it, throw it over a T-shirt — you get my point. The things a cardigan can do for your style are endless.”

Katie’s cardigan look also is complimented by scarves. She has 12 in her regular rotation. My other newsroom co-workers are very stylish too.

For example, Natalie and Elise also can be found wearing scarves with their cardigans. I have yet to master the scarf — wrapping it around my neck is very puzzling to me. I guess I need to explore the Internet to find the right way to tie one and, more importantly, to make it look good. My attempts, so far, have been disasters. I look like I’ve been boxing a couple rounds and the scarf won.

As Katie’s love for cardigans grows more passionate each day, I couldn’t help but ask her if there was an elusive cardigan out there — a cardigan that would trump all cardigans. And the answer was “yes.” Her answer mystified me a little bit. Since Katie loves owls just as much as I love chickens, I thought for sure she would be hunting for an owl-clad cardigan to fill out her collection. Let’s find out what Katie had to say.

“Two or three years ago, I had a mustard-colored cardigan that I really liked. Unfortunately, it was ruined in the wash. I have since not been able to find one that is up to par. I am always on the lookout for my next mustard-colored cardigan.”

There is no denying it — Katie’s love affair with the cardigan is the real deal. I can only hope that one day my love for the cardigan will reach her level of passion and dedication. Thank you James Brudenell, thank you.

Angie Bicker has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001. She can be reached at angiebicker@clintonherald.com.