The Reader Question
Today’s question comes from Instagram’s Marc_Chris, who wants to know what sweaters he should go for this season.
That Dapper Chap Sheds Some Light On The Question
Hello Mark, or Mr Chris, or Mark and Chris, or any other combination thereof! Thank you for contacting your Agony Uncle for an insight into sweaters.
Call them what you like, sweaters, jerseys, jumpers, or pullovers, they’re the same thing the world over: a knitted garment, designed to cover your top half and provide warmth. They usually come with long sleeves but you can also find designs in short or three-quarter length sleeves (although these are usually for ladies). So the question is, which ones should a dapper gentleman of today have in his wardrobe
…but first, a little history!
A Little Bit Of Sweater History
Wool has been knitted, woven, fashioned into shape, and used as clothing or blankets to provide protection against the weather for ages. Sheep’s wool, which contains lanolin, a wax, also has waterproof properties. While I’m sure the sweaters made at the dawn of knitting smelled horrendous (have you ever smelled a sheep?), I don’t think it would have been a priority for early man, even a sartorially-aware one!
Until the invention of knitting and weaving machines, all sweaters were knitted by hand. During times of war, knitting was hugely popular due to trade restrictions that forced people to make their own garments.
Sweaters have an array of necklines, with crew necks and V necks (being the most acceptable to wear with a shirt and tie, under a suit jacket or sports coat) being the most popular. Wearers can also sport a roll neck, polo neck, or turtle neck, all of which have additional inches of material that rise up the neck. Thinly knit turtle neck sweaters are becoming popular again, so to be bang-on trend, this may be a good option. The thin knit lends itself to layering, maybe under a chunkier V neck sweater, cardigan or waistcoat/vest. They can also look very smart worn under a sports coat.
You can wear a V-Neck or crew neck sweater over a shirt for a more formal look. Or over a t-shirt for a more casual look that still adds warmth.
Knit & Pattern
Sweaters come in a huge variety of knits, styles, and patterns. Fair Isle sweaters are very on-trend right now, and most high street stores are stocking them. Ralph Lauren’s Fair Isle sleeveless sweaters are popular as ever, and H&M is stocking some nice affordable options. In the U.S., Old Navy has some great options this season, as modeled by Paul in the picture below and to the right. This sweater has a hybrid shawl collar.
Every man should have a plain V-Neck or two in their collection, and a couple of chunkier knits. Cable knit sweaters are also on-trend right now, with Cable and Fair Isle harking back to previous eras.
Other patterns are also appearing on the market now, again reflecting a heritage approach with patterns of hunting dogs and game birds. Continuing with currents trends, I have also seen woodland creatures like owls and foxes.
If you want a classic look, stick with plain colours in a low to mid weight knit with a crew or V neck and layer them over a crisp white shirt. This look is suitable for work if worn with a tie or equally appropriate down the pub for a pie and a pint on a Friday night (sans la cravate). If you want to show your fashionable side, go for a Fair Isle knit or one with a heritage print.
A horrific trend hitting stores of late is the Christmas Sweater (think Colin Firth in Bridget Jones). Yes they’re fun, yes it’s Christmas, but NO! You should never be seen outside the confines of your living room wearing one of these, particularly if you wish to retain a tiny shred of credibility as a human being. Unless, of course, you’re also wearing a balaclava so you’re unable to be physically recognised. Or you’re completely inebriated, beyond any form of self-control, after downing that bottle of vintage Port that Aunt Maude put in your stocking.
So, go get one! Get three, but never, ever let me see you out in it!
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