Everyone loves personality tests. They’re like selfies for the soul, harnessing our desire to understand ourselves and how we experience the world. Given their subjectivity, there is no Definitive Personality Test, but the model that dominates tends to focus on the Big Five personality traits: openness to experience; conscientiousness; extroversion; agreeableness; neuroticism; and, in our opinion, how you wear a cardigan. Yes, worn by everyone from septuagenarians to celebrities, the best cardigans now have a social scope so broad that we all sit somewhere on their spectrum.
At one end, we have those who wear cardigans to experience comfort in both its physical and emotional forms – a key pursuit during the colder months we now find ourselves in. This is perhaps the cardigan in its traditional format, something worn for relaxation at home and as an afterthought in public. Celebrity icons for this iteration of cardigan are scarce because it speaks more to the everywoman than anyone else – it’s, unsurprisingly, different on the other side.
The ‘other side’ can be defined by the ‘sexigan’. Its Queen is Bella Hadid, a byword for trend-led sex appeal who would probably look beguiling even as a Neckbeard. This cardigan camp is all décolletage and midriffs. Being part of it is to make a polite request for the world to take note of your belly and breasts while only ever appearing distinctly unattainable. It’s a shrunken vintage Chanel twinset rendered an only child worn with distressed jeans by a woman who wouldn’t know distress if it slapped her.
For the ‘sexigan’ side, a cardigan worn for comfort represents shame and dishevelment. It’s what they’d be wearing if they bumped into their ex who'd left them for someone else, clotrimazole in hand and skin in desperate need of AHAs. For the others, ‘sexigans’ spell sweat patches and flagrant discomfort thinly veiled by performative sensuality.
As with the Big Five personality traits, most of us are somewhere in the middle depending on our mood and the situation. None more so than Katie Holmes in her now notorious Khaite cardigan – and matching bra. After all, a cosy cardigan in a colour that can accurately be described as ‘neutral’ worn with a matching bra is comfort and sex appeal in one.