Look, I love cardigans. Once upon a time, and maybe even still in some people’s eyes, they were considered prim, a bit wet possibly, certainly not high fashion. Over the last decade, though, the humble cardigan has become a staple in almost every woman’s wardrobe, and in many men’s. Whether you like them oversized and slouchy, crew necked or cropped, there’s a cut, colour and even print for everyone.
For me, cropped cardigans that can add a touch of arm coverage and warmth without obscuring the fitted waistline of my beloved swing dresses are not just a staple but almost a necessity. Yes, I live in England, where the weather is cardigan-friendly probably 90% of the time, but it’s not just that–I just like layering with them. I like being able to add a cardigan in a bright honey yellow or a moody rusty orange to add tonal depths or a pop of colour to my outfit, especially if I can then colour-match it to my shoes or bag–god I love colour matching.
Getting a truly cropped cardigan, though, that is cropped enough that it really does end above my waist–not hang 2 or 3 inches below it, thus totally ruining the entire point of a cinched waist flowing into a full swing skirt–is actually harder than it seems. Up until now the only true cropped cardigan I’ve found has been MAK’s cropped pinup cardigans, which so completely fulfill the specification I require in my knitwear that I own at least 30 of them. I will always be super excited to hear of any new colours or prints they release, but as they’re only available in a super fine knit there’s no variety in texture on offer, which is something I’ve been really craving in my knitwear lately. It turns out Voodoo Vixen have some cardigans that offer just that, as well as living up to my very specific and high knitted-standards.
Their Mabel and Julia cardigans are cropped, textured, and warm. They’re not actually new pieces as the Julia was released last winter in this exact mustard colour and style. A burgundy cable knit cardigan was released at that time under the same name, Julia, but appears to have been renamed this winter as the Mabel for the new colour options of black, navy, green, and orange. The original burgundy is for some reason still listed on Voodoo Vixen’s site as Julia, despite the fact that it appears to be identical in design to the Mabel, so bear that in mind if you want to find the burgundy.
The Mabel is, as mentioned, a cable knit, so it does a beautiful job of adding depth of texture to an outfit, as well as being an excellent help in creating an authentic 40s look, should you be so inclined. It is cropped but not as dramatically so as the MAK cardigans, instead likely to sit at the waist or perhaps slightly below it depending upon the size you choose and the proportions of your frame. The cuffs and hem are ribbed, and the cardigan closes with 5 sturdy buttons that draw it into a V-neck. I love the fact that it’s such a warm, snuggly piece, which looks as comfy as it feels.
The Julia cardigan is predominantly a plain knit but with a lovely leaf pattern that trails down both sleeves and off centre on either side of the chest. The pinprick holes inside the leaf work could potentially let in some cool air if you were wearing it outside on really cold days but I imagine if it was that cold you would also be wearing a coat, so I doubt they would cause an issue in daily life. It has the same ribbed hem and cuffs as the Mabel, closes with the same buttons to form the same V-neck, and is the same length, so it can also be worn as a sweater or as a cardigan layer.
The interesting thing I found about both cardigans is how much I had to size down. In MAK cropped cardigans, which are incredibly stretchy, I can wear the L comfortably open or can size up into the XL so that the buttons close properly over my bust, and I have to wear an XL in their waffle knit cardigans because they aren’t as stretchy. In Voodoo Vixen dresses or skirts I’m a 1X. In the past when I’ve tried their other cardigans I found they all ran large, to the extent that I always sized down one size from my usual VV size. In both the Julia and Mabel cardigans, though, I’m wearing the XL, which is 2 sizes smaller than the 1X I need in dresses.
I think that sizing down so drastically comes from a few different things. The first is how large their cardigans run as a rule, so you should always expect to size down once in my opinion. Secondly, I find that if there’s ample stretch in a top or a dress I can size down into a XXL from Voodoo Vixen anyway, and there’s a good amount of stretch in these pieces. Additionally I really wanted this cardigan to be fitted rather than loose, as that’s just what I prefer, but also because I wanted it to hit me at the waist rather than hang a little lower, so sizing down would be necessary for that fit overall. With all that put together I can see how I ended up in the XL, despite the fact that it’s their equivalent to a UK 14 (I’m an 18,) but I think it means you’ll have to consider your proportions and how you want your cardigans to fit as to whether you size down once or twice.
In terms of fit specifics, when buttoned up both cardigans flat measure 44 inches in the bust with stretch to about 48 inches without gaping, while they flat measure 36 inches in the waist with stretch to 44 inches. They’re 17.5 inches from high shoulder point to hem. The armholes are 20 inches in circumference and there’s plenty of stretch for my upper arms to be totally comfortable with zero tightness or pinching.
I happened to get lucky enough to buy all of my cardigans on sale–I got the black Mabel on sale from Blue Banana (A/L), which is still 10% off, and the green Mabel and yellow Julia from Voodoo Vixen directly during their Halloween weekend when they had 13% off sitewide, which I was able to stack with the 10% off code they always have ‘secretly’ displayed at the top of their blog page. I would suggest you keep your eyes peeled to see if they’re available with any Black Friday discounts on Friday if you’re keen on either style. I love them so much I’m hoping I can pick up the navy at least, but maybe even the orange too.
Disclaimer: I bought the cardigans featured in this review–I used to be gifted items for review by Voodoo Vixen regularly but have not received any items from them in the past year. The dress worn in these pictures was gifted to me by Miss Candyfloss with no obligations. All opinions expressed are truthful and my own, with no input from any of the companies listed or any other individuals. Items marked with (A/L) are Affiliate Links.