How to Wear Knitwear With Tailoring

Combining knitwear with tailoring is a failsafe way to approach the tricky territory of business and smart casual dress codes. Let’s break it down for you…

With the proliferation of office-wear becoming increasingly more open to variety and interpretation, the necessity of thecombination of business shirt and tiewith formal tailoring has diminished quite significantly. As a result,knitwearhas 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 atailored 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 asJohnstons of Elgin,Anderson & SheppardandInis Meáin,to the continental brands who fearlessly dazzle with colourful combinations, likeAltea,DoppiaaandScaglione– to work with and choose from.


To kick it all off, we have therollneck,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 tokeep it tonal, for instance with a charcoal cashmere or Merino wool rollneck beneath a charcoal flannel suit. For that look,Edward SextonorJohnston’sshould 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,DoppiaaandLarusmianihave options aplenty. If you’re looking for something a bit more casual and interesting, opting for a cable-knit rollneckis 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.


    In voracious fashion, the v-neck sweater is back with a vengeance, and it really is time to think about it as a trusted steed in knitwear form. From where it originates is hard to know - perhaps it's a revival of 1980s style, beautifully manifested in old Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani campaign imagery, or it being plucked out from the annals of vintage sportswear like old-school cricket jumpers. Traditionally speaking, lightweight v-neck jumpers are best worn with a tailored jacket compared to a heavy cricket jumper, the latter of which look fantastic layered against muted, earthy browns. When it comes to shirting, a soft-collared white shirt is always a reliable option, and will also help you channel that old-school charm of 1980s campaign imagery. If your jackets are cut full and are able to cater to a heavy knit beneath, roll out the cricket jumper, but if you’re in need of something a little smarter, a thin gauge knit ought to do the trick. Need further help? Here’show to wear a v-neck.


      December 2019


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