Knitwear Perennials

Perennials: Shawl Collar Cardigans

By Drake's

Jul 13, 2022

Perennials: Shawl Collar Cardigans


The pieces we’ve chosen to enshrine in our newly launched Perennials collection are those that will endure, both in terms of quality, and style (hence the name). One such item is the shawl collar cardigan. It’s an item that’s been a part of the Drake’s look for many years now, and is more than deserving of its Perennial status. Favoured by customers and staff alike, it’s a style which complements many modes of dress, and crucially always remains understated.


Investing in a good cardigan.

As with anything, a good cardigan is an investment. Our shawl collar cardigans are available in a handful of colours, and come in both lambswool and cashmere varieties. However, once you’ve purchased one, it might just be that you never need to buy another cardigan. Knitted in the Scottish Borders (where, as many of you will know, the world’s best knitwear comes from), they have large, cosy collars that roll dramatically away from the face. And, as with any good cardigan, they are finished with five-braid British tan leather buttons. That’s more or less it – like all evergreen pieces of clothing, the make up of a good shawl collar is deceptively simple. No superfluous details or unnecessary flourishes. Ours are made in more or less the same way they have been made for a hundred years. If it ain’t broke, as they say…

As well as making it enduringly stylish, the beautiful simplicity of a shawl collar cardigan also lends it another virtue: versatility. Versatility is particularly important in those foundational pieces in our wardrobes. The items that get worn the most are those that can adapt endlessly to any occasion, and I can think of no more adaptable garment than the venerable shawl collar.

Wear it instead of a dressing gown.

It won’t have escaped your attention that we are all spending a lot more time inside, these days. This has created a myriad of problems, among which clothing does not rank as the most serious. However, getting up and getting dressed is something we all have to do each day, and it can either be a rote, uninspiring procedure, or something a little more uplifting. Seemingly the most common issue with dressing for a chronically indoor lifestyle is getting the level of formality right. It’s certainly true that nothing is stopping you from spending all day in your pyjamas, and you will of course be physically comfortable. However, your spirit may not be similarly at ease, as day after day of wearing only loungewear can begin to have a deeply disheartening effect. One might begin to feel sluggish and unproductive, given that the mind associates loungewear with, well, lounging.

At this problem’s other pole is the risk of being overdressed for what the day demands of you. If you’re unlikely to be leaving the house, then it seems like a waste to hang around in all your finery. Good clothes deserve an audience, after all. So, how to strike a balance? I am hardly the first person to put forward this idea, but the key to navigating these tricky waters is dressing in clothes that are presentable, yet which rival loungewear in comfort. You may think such clothes do not exist, that the mere suggestion of such a useful garment is fanciful, but you would be wrong. A shawl collar cardigan is just this sort of garment. Throw yours on in the morning (whether it’s over an oxford-cloth button-down, a polo shirt, or just a t-shirt) and you will instantly look presentable. But you will also be exceptionally comfortable. The soothing effect this will have on your psyche cannot be overstated. And – if you can believe it – the virtues of a shawl collar cardigan do not stop there.

Wear it instead of a tailored jacket.

Of course, we will not be confined to our homes forever, and much ink has been spilled on the subject of what we will wear when we do finally emerge, blinking, into the light. Will we put a new premium on comfort, and remain in our indoor clothes? Or will we go in the opposite direction entirely, and dress to the nines? The shawl collar cardigan circumvents this conundrum altogether – in fact, it might be the perfect transitional garment for the gradual return to normality. On that first day of freedom, should you find yourself sat at home in the aforementioned combo of oxford shirt and shawl collar cardigan, you need only throw on a knitted silk tie and you’re ready for that first restaurant booking in months. It works perfectly as an alternative to a tweed or corduroy jacket (albeit a slightly softer, more casual one), if you need a bit more time to readjust to the relative confines of tailored clothing. How many items of clothing can you think of that make a convincing stand-in for both dressing gown and tweed jacket? That look equally stylish worn over shirt and tie, or pyjamas? The shawl collar cardigan works far harder than it needs to, and we are forever grateful to it.


Keep it for a lifetime.

As mentioned earlier, once you own one of our shawl collar cardigans, you may never need to buy another cardigan. Their superior quality ensures it will last and last (even if you’re wearing it from the couch to the cocktail bar). It will become like an old friend, a cherished piece of clothing that is always there for you, to offer warmth and a sense of reassurance. And if you don’t believe me, just ask Simon Crompton. His navy cashmere shawl collar cardigan – purchased from us almost a decade ago – is among his most well-worn items, as he expounded on here. There is much to be said for those unfailing wardrobe staples that we end up living in, and which become so pleasingly familiar. For whatever reason, knitwear seems to be particularly good at evoking a sense of home and comfort, and in this crowded field, the shawl collar cardigan will always stand out.


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