Sleeve Me Alone: GBB On Cardigan Vests

G. Bruce Boyer has a new piece for the Drake’s website on one of his signature items, the sleeveless cardigan.

Writes Bruce Almighty:

Of the two classic sleeveless knits to wear under a suit coat or sports jacket – the V-neck pullover and the cardigan – the cardigan is surely the most elegant and versatile. It’s the buttons, whether in horn or pearl, that tend to make it a bit dressier.

For the classic version, styling is pretty straight forward. A five-button front is what’s wanted, no more, no less. Not a zipper, not a double-breasted (both experiments have been tried). Five buttons. In better cardies, the inside front edges are trimmed in grosgrain ribbon, which seems to be a nice touch of elegance, but is really for reinforced durability.

Get the full read, along with plenty of fun shots of Bruce, right over here. — CC

30 Comments on "Sleeve Me Alone: GBB On Cardigan Vests"

  1. I just remembered Bruce told me he was recently shot by FE Castleberry.

    This must be it. The eggs and tobasco sauce bottle give it away.

  2. You took the words right out of my mouth: if it’s shot in a diner and hot sauce is involved, Fred is lurking somewhere.

    I have a beautiful, bright red, sleeveless lambswool v-neck sweater from BB, but whenever I wear it somebody inevitably calls me – derisively – ‘Rick Santorum’ (usually out of a passing car window)

  3. I tried to pull off the cardigan look, but failed.

    I think cardigans are more for older, distinguished gentlemen like Mr. Boyer. They have a grandfatherly, Mr. Roger’s appeal to them that other sweaters don’t have.

  4. FrontPorchLife | September 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm |

    Somewhat of a difficult look to properly pull off. The fit of the cardigan cannot be too loose or it will bulge out in certain areas when the coat is buttoned. Likewise, the coat must have ample room to allow a cardigan underneath. I am curious as to why all the pictures presented here of the Bruce show him sporting this look with an unbuttoned coat? Could it be for one of the reasons I have listed above?

  5. rmpmcdermott | September 7, 2017 at 1:38 pm |

    Brucie Boy is a gentleman and a scholar. I met him at StyleCon back in 98. A true delight, but I have to disagree with the man here. The cardigan underneath a sportcoat is an utter faux pas.

  6. Not my taste, fine. But I fail to see it as a faux pas, given the historical record.

  7. Utter faux pas? Utterly FALSE.

  8. The faux pas is agreeing to work, in any capacity, with Fred Castleberry. The historical record is clear on that.

  9. It would be a ‘faux pas’ if it actually looked bad, in my opinion. It’s pretty much a more casual version of a waistcoat, similar to our oxfords and tweeds. Nothing wrong, as far as I can see.

  10. Is VEA masquerading as AEV? Sly fox indeed…

  11. Looking forward to wearing navy shawl collared BB cardigan but the temps are still in the ’80s. Great with an OCBD, khakis, rep tie and loafers. A great alternative to a blue blazer from time to time.

    Incidentally, I like the relatively high top button of the cardigan on GBB.


  12. Shawl collared BB cardigan with sleeves, to be specific. Incidentally, it goes well with khaki shorts too.


  13. Christopher Hosford | September 7, 2017 at 2:54 pm |

    The comment about 5 buttons (no more or less) prompted me to double check my BB version. Yup, 5 buttons all right, plus two pockets. I’m glad the weather is turning here in NYC so can pull it out again.

  14. Vern Trotter | September 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm |

    As long as it is sleeveless it will be fine under most classic fit coats if your size is correct. Will be an albatross if your coat is of the shrunken too tight style. They have been around forever but sort of hard to find a nice sleeveless cardigan.

  15. FrontPorchLife | September 7, 2017 at 3:38 pm |

    Ebay is your best friend when looking for a sleeveless cardigan.

  16. Cranston Hughes III | September 7, 2017 at 3:42 pm |

    My arms are too bulgy for sleeved cardigans, so a sleeveless is in my future. Looking forward to donning this garb with my OCBD, repp tie and maybe… dare I say it… penny loafers?

  17. I like them for the look, and the layering effect, especially if you’re in and out a lot. Here in Charlotte, well into the winter, you can wear one, a tweed sportcoat, scarf, gloves, hat, and you’re covered.
    Love to find me one in Fair Isle.

  18. Someone already mentioned “grandfatherly” and that’s precisely the vibe I get from this look, which is just fine if you are, or wish to be seen as, such. I’m afraid it’s not going on my shopping list, Drake’s or not.

  19. Richard Meyer | September 7, 2017 at 8:35 pm |

    Cardigan under a blazer or sport coat was a favorite look of Fred Astaire’s.

  20. Astaire looks terrific with the top buttons buttoned. Much more sophisticated than a single buttoned look.

  21. Richard Meyer | September 8, 2017 at 5:30 am |

    M Arthur: Totally agree!

  22. René Lebenthal | September 8, 2017 at 7:43 am |

    I believe that the Cardigan gives us a wonderful casual layering option and GBB wears it “à merveille”
    Thanks to Drake’s and Bruce Almighty. I like the look and don’t find it grandfathering at all.
    Au contraire 😉

  23. Mac McConnell | September 8, 2017 at 7:45 am |

    sacksuit, ditto on the navy shawl collar as a sub for blazer.

    I’ve got lots of these sleeveless cardigans, some expensive some not. I prefer sleeveless cardigans because you don’t have to wrestle them over your head if the weather turns on you. Also, most of my v-necks are sleeveless. While I am old, I’ve been wearing these since college.

    As Cranston Hughes III points out if you have “gun” sleeveless is the way to go, unless you like the sausage arm look in a jacket.

  24. Mac McConnell | September 8, 2017 at 7:57 am |

    FYI, if you are willing to experiment without a large investment, checkout Macy’s or any large department store. Even some of their store labels meet decent parameters. If you find one you like come back after Christmas, they give these things away. 😉

  25. Down Tradden | September 8, 2017 at 8:44 am |

    Under a tweed jacket it’s perfect. Under a blazer not so much.

  26. There is a devil may care aspect to this look, something I usually like in a style. However, I too believe I’d have a hard time pulling it off. I’d button that one button, look in the mirror, and say, “Aw, you faker.” This is a look that you have to be it to wear it.

  27. I love sleeveless wool v-necks in fall and winter. The button-up cardigan ones are trickier to find than the pull-over type. I’m in the medium range for shirts and jackets, but go down a size to small for the vest–fits nicely under the jacket, stretches comfortably, but doesn’t look baggy or droopy.

    The trick to not looking like Rick Santorum is to always, always wear a tie when you wear a knit vest.

  28. NaturalShoulder | September 8, 2017 at 10:12 pm |

    Boyer looks great as usual but has more to do with everything else other than the cardigan. I don’t think it is a particularly good luck. Plus I get too warm whenever I have tried to layer a sweater under a jacket.

  29. Call me a copy-cat. Call me what you will, but after seeing this I had to get a teal sleeveless cardigan.

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