My first vintage St. John sweater was an unexpected find at Charm School Vintage in Austin, Texas. Among the racks of pieces with boho appeal or an ironically retro angle, this light blush pink and ivory cardigan caught my eye. With major ladies-who-lunch vibes, gold buttons that screamed Designing Women, and a $35 price tag, I couldn’t pass it up. It has a Chanel-inspired appeal with its pastel color and contrasting trim — perfect for nailing that grandma chic look.
Why I Love a Vintage St. John Sweater
Since then, I’ve fallen head over heels for vintage sweaters. They have this incredibly luxe look and you can generally find them for $30 to $60. Look, I love a J. Crew sweater blazer. But sometimes I want something with a little more of a story — something that makes an impression when I wear it. Something I can dress up with a simple pair of jeans, a cami, and flats. Something that people will ask, “Where did you find that?!”
St. John Knits typically have an association with a certain sixty-something set. Tailored, yet comfortable. Ready to hit the boardroom or the yacht at any moment. The vintage pieces, however, are so much fun. I have cardigans and pullover sweaters, all with an 80s-90s appeal that feels totally modern. Plus, their classic wool/rayon knit is so dense and high quality that these items, unless they’ve been stained, hold up beautifully over the years. Every item I’ve bought looks brand new.
And the details! Oh, the details. The buttons, the trim, the well-placed pockets. You can’t beat the styling. Certainly not with a fast fashion find.
How to Wear a Vintage St. John Sweater
So, how do you wear a vintage St. John sweater or cardigan in a way that still feels fresh and youthful? I typically like to pair mine with high-waisted jeans or leather leggings and a tucked in tee (or turtleneck if it’s cold out!). An earring that feels a bit more bold like a hoop or a chunky brass earring helps the look stay casual.
The key here: these sweaters often hit a bit longer, hip or below, and have a look that’s both a bit oversized and structured, so keep the rest of your outfit tailored.
The Best Place to Find Vintage Grandma Cardigans
Secondhand and vintage stores will, of course, be your best bet. If you’re in the DC area, I’ll let you in on my secret: Clothes Encounters in Eastern Market. I assume it’s due to the number of well-dressed older women on Capitol Hill, but this cozy shop is always brimming with the most amazing designer finds, including an incredible array of St. John cardigans, in excellent condition. It’s where I snagged my Dior blazer this winter!
But, if you’re not in DC and don’t have a great secondhand store nearby, Etsy is always a reliable resource. A quick search (I only went two pages in!) turned up a slew of gorgeous options, which I’ve shared below. Even Poshmark will turn up more than a few hits. Remember, with secondhand, the search is half the fun, so happy vintage hunting!