The Yellow Cardigan At RL

The last post, as always, brought out debate — this time on the little matter of cardigans under sportcoats. One reader pointed out that cardigan (whether sleeveless or not) under a tweed jacket was fine, but never under a blazer. Well such rules have never stopped the folks at Ralph Lauren, as this image shows.

The yellow cardigan specifically has been a staple at RL for decades:

To my surprise, Ivy Style has carried on this long without a tribute to the yellow cardigan. The image at the very top is from the fall of 2009, right when I was planning my move to New York. I was determined to find a yellow cable cardigan to wear with blazer, grey flannels, and brown tassel loafers. I eventually found one, but as I recall for some reason I found it better in theory than application.

I may give it another try. The thing about theories is that they should always be retested. — CC

42 Comments on "The Yellow Cardigan At RL"

  1. I’m a big booster of the yellow cardigan. My grandfather had a yellow Lacoste cardigan that he’d wear almost every day as he sat on his front porch.

    A few years ago I picked up a yellow cable cardigan from Gant that I felt had a wonderfully old coot-look to it. It always receives compliments when I wear it out.

    I’ve found a photo of it from another website:

  2. Link I provided appears to be broken. But this should work: it’s being worn by the gent on the right.

  3. Yellow cardigans are very Mr. Roger’s.

    The WSJ says that the 70s are the trendy decade for menswear in 2017. Who knows, maybe bell-bottoms will be fashionable again.

  4. The cable knit version of the yellow cardigan is a winner.

    Don’t miss the shade of navy in the first picture, as well as the type of flannel. Maybe just maybe doeskin. Looks to be woolen (as opposed to worsted). This renders a napped, heathered look. And the true navy (errs on the side of a French Navy) is damned near perfect. God almighty, Ralph had an eye for just the right cloth.

  5. I was just scrolling through Orvis and found this:

  6. I stand corrected. Mr. Rogers is best known for wearing a red cardigan. In fact, his polyester red cardigan is part of the Smithsonian collection.

    I still stand by my assertion that cardigans have a grandfatherly appeal to them. Especially the cable-knit variety. Unless guys want to appear much older, they should stick to crew neck or V-neck sweaters.

  7. Richard Meyer | September 9, 2017 at 4:18 pm |

    Nothing wrong with a cardigan under a blazer.However, I do not at all care for having the lower buttons left open so that the belt buckle shows. The very first picture is just fine, IMO.

  8. Richard Meyer | September 9, 2017 at 4:20 pm |

    I should add, fine except for the belt buckle showing, that is. Same with when wearing a vest.

  9. Unbuttoned? Top maybe, bottom always. All others buttons, buttoned.

  10. For me, yellow is a summertime colour, and a decent tan is a pre-requisite to sporting it.

    A combination I am fond of is a pale yellow BB polo paired with navy chino shorts or trousers – I feel like the male “Prep Persona No. 5” in the OPH, despite being in my early 30’s.

    I have a chunky green cable-knit cardigan with faux leather buttons that I reserve for wearing around the house, it’s very grandfatherly indeed. I like some of the photos (especially #1 & #3), but it’s quite a strong contrast, and is approaching the realm of costume. The shawl collar on #5 is great, but I think the fair complexion of the model is what makes it worrk.

    And given today’s overheated buildings, I can’t imaging wearing much more than a mid-weight sport coat over a cotton shirt. The sleeveless cardigan vest may be the solution, when a v-neck version would bring to mind Cyril Figgis from “Archer”.

  11. How do we know that this isn’t a cardigan VEST?

  12. Vern Trotter | September 9, 2017 at 7:44 pm |

    To me, long sleeve sweaters of any style are not really comfortable under a blazer or sport/suit coat although I sometimes wear them for outside. They make me too warm for indoors; I think sleeveless underneath just feels better.

  13. Wore cardigans at college in the ’80s. They gave the ladies a safe comfortable feeling right before they were introduced to Mr. McFeely. Blue canvas Sperrys topped off the look. Starched, cuffed flat front Duckheads too.


  14. Sacksuit, your hilarious comment just convinced me to try to Mr. Rogers CVO/cardigan look.

  15. @Sacksuit

    Hahahahahahahaha…”speedy delivery!”

  16. Funny, until now I always associated yellow cardigans with Lacoste thanks to one particular scene in the film “Goodfellas” when the background characters are shown passing out a few of them of out a box that must have ‘Fallen off the back of a truck.’

  17. NaturalShoulder | September 10, 2017 at 9:32 am |

    The yellow really does look good under the navy blazer in the first picture. I don’t like the cardigan under a jacket look personally and living in Texas it is difficult to find days cold enough for me to wear a sweater under a jacket.

  18. Michael Brady | September 10, 2017 at 11:22 am |

    I had a yellow (maize) Polo shawl-collar cardigan back in the glory days of PRL…about 1974. I foolishly flushed it along with a fantastic collection of head-to-toe Polo apparel when the extreme proportions of that look became anachronistic. The cardigan could work with jeans, dress flannels, or tartan plaids, and was perfect for those occasions where a sportcoat was perhaps too much, such as a family holiday gathering. I wish I had it still.

  19. Mr. Brady, was it a cable-knit cardigan with woven leather buttons?

  20. Mac McConnell | September 10, 2017 at 2:03 pm |

    The one in the third image, man in hat, is lambs wool and finished at the bottom like a suit vest.

  21. Mac McConnell | September 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm |

    It would be interesting if you could use your pull with RL to get access to the hard cover pamphlets distributed in bulk to men’s shops over the last forty years. The spring / fall “look books” would add a lot to our understanding of how the RL offerings styling and quality has changed over time.

  22. We’ve been planning just some posts along those lines. A couple readers have scanned some old catalogs, and I’ve got a massive gallery planned to celebrate the brand’s 50th. Stay tuned.

  23. Try a nice, lightweight merino wool version. I find it more comfortable under a jacket.

  24. My feeling is if it’s cold enough to add the sweater, I’m wearing tweed.

  25. Michael Brady | September 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm |

    Yes, it was as you described: Yellow with tan leather mushroom buttons.

    My son gifted me a similar sweater; modern vintage, from Ralph about a year ago. This one in black indigo-dyed cotton, cable stitched, with cast metal buttons.. It feels right in all but the hottest weather.

  26. Mr. McConnell, RL would send the menswear shops that carried his wares hardcover look books? Were they like product description guides for salesmen?

  27. Can’t wait to see that tribute post, CC! RL advertisements are rivaled only by old BB catalogs.

  28. The clothes on the fellow at top look uncomfortably tight to me. I know it was in 2009, but I can’t imagine clothing that trim to be comfortable in any year. On the other hand, I’ve had a number of Lacoste cardigans that “bagged” under the arms like excess skin. The material would hang if my arms were straight out and would start to collect at the forearm and wrist when down. I probably laundered them too often and incorrectly. They were still comfortable nevertheless. I had brown (khaki-ish), green, and pink, but never yellow.

  29. No cardigan but I did try yellow socks with flannels and penny loafers once. Don’t think I pulled it off. Pretty sure I was trying to copy someone on whom it did look good.

  30. JB,
    The jacket is probably two sizes too small and the jacket sleeves are more like shirt sleeves.

  31. Sleeveless cardigans are quite nice as a waistcoat alternative, but they must never shout. However, I didn’t care for the way Bruce B wore his recently, nor did I care for its colour. There, I’ve said it, and now I think I need to lie down, with the blinds closed.

  32. The cardigan inder the blazer in the first picture. But this can really only be categorized as a blazer by virtue of the metal buttons. The weave of the wool seems quite coarse and rustic and hence suited to the cardigan. Were the blazer to be made of a fine barathea I doubt if the coupling would work as well.

  33. * cardigan works under the blazer…

  34. “My feeling is if it’s cold enough to add the sweater, I’m wearing tweed.” — Matt

    Yes indeed.

  35. This past Sunday was officially Granparents’ Day. Enough said.

    Is this some kind of coincidence, Christian?

  36. Henry Contestwinner | September 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm |

    Although pink has long been touted as a good color to pair with navy blue, these pictures show that yellow works well, too.

    The shade of yellow in the third picture is, to my mind, perfect. Here’s a sweater vest in more or less the same prefect shade:

    I’ve always liked cable knits. They add texture without the potential clutter of patterns.

  37. Jimmy Balantyne | September 30, 2017 at 4:05 pm |

    I’ve got the RL yellow cardigan with the shawl collar and very it is too.

  38. Jimmy Balantyne | September 30, 2017 at 4:06 pm |

    Oops! ‘nice’ it is too.

  39. EvanEverhart | January 7, 2018 at 12:07 pm |

    Hi guys, haven’t been on a while but felt compelled to comment on this; to begin with I whole-heartedly support the sweater vest, but more along the lines of the ones that Maury Amsterdam “Buddy” from the Dick Van Dyke show wore – esentiakky finely knit and pieced vests with simple brass or silver buttons in the perfect proportions of an actual vest. I also wear ones of this sort, or conversely raglan sleeved cardigans in cable knit but-and here is my primary point-not in that pale lemon yellow color that is so jarring. Grandfather always wore dark yellow accessories, and minor garments, somewhere between buff, dark mustard, and curry and so do I, as moat of those which are mine now, were his originally. Beyond this, 3 out of 5 the knit vests that are shown here (1, 3, & 5 – 5 may be an optical illusion due to the model’s nearly pubic cleavage revealing trouser rise – Yick!) show the same singular and fatal flaw: they are far too long! Note the 2 undone buttons at the bottom…I’d personally say that’s acceptable for a stand-alone piece of knitwear, but not under a jacket as it throws of the wearer’s bodily proportions awfully by drastically dropping their waistline (see models 1 & 3). Yucks to that. Also nix on the visible belt buckles and excrutiatingly low rise trousers. RL does know better but his imps do it anyway. Market driven or percieved market driven I suppose. The 2nd fellow looks best, like a man, not a waif, or ectomorph. Heres my 75 cents and I hope I’ve not opined to the boredom of the rest of you. I sincerely enjoyed this article. And enjoyed grousing about the pictures just as much. Ha! Have a beautiful day-week, one and all.

  40. EvanEverhart | January 7, 2018 at 12:09 pm |

    *essentially. Apologies.

  41. elder prep | March 2, 2019 at 6:46 pm |

    I think the yellow cardigan sweater vest under a blue blazer looks fine. The key to making it ‘work’ is how it’s worn, e.g. what buttons are buttoned, with or without a scarf, the fit of the sweater and jacket, etc. However, on the matter of a crewneck sweater under a blazer or sport coat, I agree that can become uncomfortably warm when worn indoors. The sweater vest is a better choice when worn indoors with the jacket.

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