With the proliferation of office-wear becoming increasingly more open to variety and interpretation, the necessity of the combination of business shirt and tie with formal tailoring has diminished quite significantly. As a result, knitwear has weaved its way to the front of the queue and it’s a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, though, some men aren’t in the know on this front, so allow us to break it down.
A usual rule of thumb is that the top, pullover or jumper (whatever you refer to it as), should be made from a fine-gauge material so it can work seamlessly beneath a tailored jacket - too bulky and you’ll look ridiculous, too thin and you’ll be cold. For those wondering what on earth ‘gauge’ means, it’s the metric applied to knitwear that governs the number of stitches per inch. Less than 10 is considered heavy, 10 to 20 medium, and anything more than that is fine.
Come the cooler months knitwear in its many guises comes into its own. There are numerous styles, constructions, gauges and materials from many reputable makers – from British mainstays such as Johnstons of Elgin, Anderson & Sheppard and Inis Meáin, to the continental brands who fearlessly dazzle with colourful combinations, like Altea, Doppiaa and Scaglione – to work with and choose from.
To kick it all off, we have the rollneck, which has reached stratospheric heights of popularity within the sartorial world in recent years. No other piece of knitwear underlines the changes in formal dress codes than it. It’s chic and so, so bloody easy to pull off. As mentioned earlier (and I’m going to drum it in), if you’re to wear a rollneck beneath a jacket, it can’t be too thick as it will look ridiculous and puffy. In terms of styling, the obvious instinct is to keep it tonal, for instance with a charcoal cashmere or Merino wool rollneck beneath a charcoal flannel suit. For that look, Edward Sexton or Johnston’s should be your port of call. However, tonal could be considered boring by some, so using a rollneck for punctuation is also a great way of incorporating it into an outfit. Whether it’s in a soft, neutral tone that contrasts against a navy or grey jacket, or a vibrant or block-patterned design, Doppiaa and Larusmiani have options aplenty. If you’re looking for something a bit more casual and interesting, opting for a cable-knit rollneck is a good way to do so, as the decorative and intricate design versus a plain weave adds depth and character. Note: you don’t have to ignore your shirting options, as a rollneck can be layered beneath one and even on top with the collars poking out from the neck.