Some women are addicted to shoes, collecting them like precious art. Others hoard perfume bottles. Lynne Hiriak has a passion for cardigans, with more than 100 variations of the ladylike basic in her closet.

So it made perfect sense this fall when the knitwear designer who has worked for Ralph Lauren and Derek Lam launched a label, Cardigan, that makes nothing else. The sartorial staple rose to fame in the 1950s and has since been beloved by dads, golfers and college profs, not to mention the late Mr. Rogers, who was a spokesman of sorts for the lowly button-front sweater.

For women, the cardigan is one-half of the prim 'n' preppy twin set — a lightweight addition to any outfit and an easy way to polish any look.

"Cardigans are seasonless key items that all women wear unconsciously," Hiriak says.

There are many more affordable styles to choose from. A cardigan is also a noncommittal way to wear color — you'll still be dressed if you decide to shed the hue.

Whether it's hanging in your closet or draped across the back of your office chair, the cardigan is that go-to staple that you can't avoid. Make it count.