Bronte maxicardi
Number 62

Kind of remember having one of these in the 1990s.

Entirely possible – whether you were rocking a grunge look or popping one over a crop top and mini in the manner of a Spice Girl, that's the last time the maxi cardi was on trend.

What happened in the wilderness years?

It occupied a spot just above the tracksuit in the leisurewear hierarchy. If Karl Lagerfeld thinks sweatpants are a sign you've given up, the maxi cardi has been the preceding state of denial, when you believe that nobody has noticed that none of your clothes involve zips or buttons any more. And not in a bodycon Lycra way.

OK, I'm of an age where I need to be sure that the fashionable/frumpy distinction is fairly clear…

Fear not. This blue-grey lambswool beauty – romantically called the Bronte – is way too luxe to look a mere concession to comfort (£249,, above). To make absolutely sure you're modish, keep everything sharp and simple underneath.

And if I'd rather dip a toe than invest the proverbial limbs?

Zara's thin-knit long cardi in viscose-wool mix is a bargain, and just the right weight for indoors or layering under a long coat (£25.99, Monochromists will struggle to choose between the two shades of grey it comes in.