You see this? This is a fake cardigan that I’m wearing. I bought it in Toronto’s Chinatown on the normally-sound belief that old Chinese men have fresh and awesome style — those fake Members Onlys, for instance, and I’m not being sarcastic for even a second — and I really ought to ape the oddly knitted cardigans, particularly in muted gray. Not until I got back to my hotel room did I bother inspecting to discover that it is actually a sweater vest masquerading as a cardigan. I’d have to take a knife and remove a few lines of stitching for this to actually approach cardiganism. Yes, that’s right, I bought a cardigan without first verifying that it was, indeed a cardigan. And I want to be your national-security reporter.
Update: Commenter Erica says that a cardigan must have sleeves to be a cardigan. I thought the set of necessary and sufficient conditions for cardiganness were merely a frontal closure. So I consulted an expert: Jezebel fashion writer Sadie Stein. Here’s what she said:
I am of the opinion that a cardigan is by definition a button-front sleeved garment – vests rather unfairly can lay claim to anything without sleeves. The more I think about it, the less fair it seems. Why can a vest be both button and un-, while a cardigan is subject to such a narrow definition? (In England, a button vest is always a "waistcoat," and a vest is only the pullover kind.)
While I do think a cardigan needs sleeves, I also think this should be expanded!
More in support of Erica’s line of thinking than mine, to be sure, but clearly mine is the forward-thinking definition.