by André Larnyoh

Recently my family paid me the honour of visiting my relatively new flat. After showing them round and receiving the obligatory nods of approval, my sister suddenly, and loudly, gasped. “You STILL have this thing?!” She was pointing to a navy shawl collar cardigan draped over a chaise longue (you read that right) that I’ve had since my first year of University. I wear it to this very day, despite the fact that seven years on it is riddled with holes and can only be fastened with the remaining 2 of the 5 original buttons. My sister and, by extension, my mother, couldn’t wrap their heads around why I would still wear this thing on the regular. It’s so tattered that wearing it outside of the confines of my home would without a doubt warrant puzzled looks. In my mind, I see it as the natural evolution of a beloved piece of clothing. Like wearing a pair of paint splattered old jeans that have broken in, this thing is comfortable beyond words.  Something to look forward to after a long day, it seems  Mr. Rogers had the right idea. To kick off the shoes, and slip the cardigan over my shoulders is as relaxing as a drink after work. The wool has softened all over and lost its initial itchiness. The overall shape has stretched a bit that it has a wonderful drape to the body, and the pockets have sagged in a way that my hands fit into them like gloves. It's matured to a point of perfection.

But there’s also a bit of sentiment as to why I can’t let this thing go. My cardigan saw me through University and then some. More recently, it has been my premier piece of loungewear as I endure rolling lockdowns here in London. It’s one of those items of clothings that you can safely say has seen some things in this life. If it could speak, it would tell tales of chilly black box studios and angry improv teachers. Wax on about the various strange things that have been shoved into its two pockets (from pieces of bread stolen from a deli to even a glass eye). Forgetting sentiment though, if you were to take one look at this cardigan you could see that it has had it. I can’t lie and say that it's still got some life to it, because it doesn't. I desperately need to replace it with another. It’s been patched and sewn up time and time again. A dog bit into it once and used the wrist as a chew toy a year ago, so the cuffs are hanging on by mere threads. Whenever I put my arm through it goes through a giant hole in the wrist. So a replacement is badly needed.

I am lucky enough to own one of those handmade Ranch Cardigans from RRL which is belted and incredibly cozy, but it’s not the same. It's more of a statement piece that I’d wear intentionally out and about. I wouldn’t want to abuse that in the way I’ve done my navy piece, this ones just too nice. Simplicity is key. A neutral colour, unfussy design and two pockets at the waist (I’ve seen some models without pockets and I’m not sure why you’d want that). Now that we’re stuck in another lockdown, the need for a fresh shawl collar has never been greater. A lot of brands offer some good options, but I’ve made up my mind on one of those Scott & Charters pieces. They look like they've got some real heft to them, and they are quite oversized. I saw someone drape one over a corduroy suit recently, and I’ve been dying to experiment with a very similar look.  Maybe someone will come through for me at Christmas time, and hopefully this one will do me another seven years of solid service… or another seven months of isolation at this rate.