Whether you are looking to strut that ugly Christmas sweater to mimic Kanye West’s or Conan O Brian’s fashion sensibilities, viewers of your chosen attire would feel significant reprieve had you carefully selected your choice of winter wear. Few wardrobe items are given as little consideration as the sweater, often being viewed more for function than fashion. And while they certainly do provide insular properties that allow them to do what they are intended for in the first place, paying attention to the aesthetic component can reap significant rewards. Pair the right sweat with your shirt and overcoat, and you are most definitely going to be getting attention that is far displaced from the notoriety the ugly Christmas sweater would bring! With that said, here is our comprehensive guide to choosing the right sweater this winter season!
Let’s answer the age old question, most aptly answered recently by Will Ferrell. Why should men wear sweaters?
There you have it. So stop asking already! For (sometimes) disproportionate upper body insulation. No seriously…….because they are highly versatile. Given the aesthetic of a sweater, it is the perfect garment in between formal and casual wear, allowing you to dress down more formal clothing, or dress up more casual clothing.
A quality sweater that fits snugly is one of the most flattering garments for a dapper gentleman. A quality sweater adds weight to a slimmer physique, while helping streamline a heavier one. Sweaters can serve both a functional and aesthetic purpose. They keep you warm, while simultaneously breaking up the daily grind of wearing pants and a shirt!
History Of The Sweater
The history of the sweater can be traced back to its functional roots. Historically, sweaters were most common amongst fisherman, who needed them to protect themselves from cold water. As far back as the 15th century, fisherman’s wives from Guersney in the Channel Islands between Britain and France knitted ‘guernsey’s’ with tightly woven and knitted wool that deflected sea spray.
Until the start of the 20th century, these garments were mostly hand made and prevalent across working class men. In recent years, sweaters have become a fashion statement, and allow a discerning gentleman to truly separate themselves with their sense of layering and ability to choose fabrics and patterns that can best be incorporated into their ensembles.
A gentleman’s wardrobe staple, woolen sweaters ability to insulate heat have made them a favorite world over. Wool sweaters, however, do require great care, as they can lose approximately 30% of their strength when soaked.
Woolen Sweaters provide perfect insulation properties during colder months! Courtesy of www.glenaran.com
The gold standard for sweaters, cashmere sweaters are the pinnacle of luxury. Cashmere is a highly desired material both for its softness and warmth, which can be up to eight times warmer than sheeps wool. Given cashmeres high price range, it is best to ensure that it fits the following criteria:
- Fits like a glove
- You can wear it several times a year
- Is of a darker, timeless color that can be worn through time.
Pay attention to the following criteria, and you should be able to wear your quality cashmere sweater over a 100x over the next few years!
While cashmere is considered luxurious, like any other fabric, is offered in a range of grades. The reason that cashmere pricing can vary greatly, is that even though all cashmere is derived from the fine under hair of the cashmere goat, they can be made from softer or rougher cashmere fibers. When looking for a cashmere sweater, it is best to see if the ply count or grade of fibers are presented. A great test for the quality of the cashmere is to pull it between your fingers a little bit, to see if it is resistant to stretching. If the fabric springs right back into place, it is a strong indicator of higher quality cashmere fabric.
Few things speak luxury like a men’s cashmere sweater! Courtesy of www.dolchefashion.com
Sweaters derived from cotton are generally cooler than their cashmere and woolen counterparts. These garments will lose heat faster, which can be ideal for the fall season where frigid temperatures have not yet hit. A key benefit of cotton sweaters is that they are generally available in lower price ranges, given the prevalent use of this fabric.
A Cotton Sweater would have proved of little value to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant! Courtesy of www.telegraph.co.uk
Synthetic Fabric Sweaters
Often providing the same benefit as a cashmere or woolen sweater with the level of warmth they provide you with, these sweaters don’t require the special care of their natural fiber counterparts when it comes to washing and handling. As such, they are easier to maintain. On the flip side, these sweaters have a much shorter lifespan than your woolen or cashmere sweaters.
The weave of the sweater impacts its insulation ability. Typically, heavier rib patterns will make a sweater thicker, increasing its ability to keep you warm. Plain woven sweaters are less elastic and slightly cooler. However, their finer touch gives them a more professional look.
Looking for extra warmth during the cooler months? Opt for a cable knit sweater. The Knit’s distinctive cable pattern not only adds texture to an outfit, but also offers a rugged and relaxed look. While this sweater is ideal for casual settings, this can be spruced up by pairing it with a blazer.
Cable Knit Sweaters pair perfectly with a blazer and pocket square. Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
Looking to spice up your winter ensembles with a Pocket Square! The Dark Knot’s extensive range of hand made silk & linen pocket squares offers something for everyone!
A softer counterpart to the cable knit, a ribbed knit sweater offers texture without the excess bulk. Ribbed Knits resemble a corduroy finish, as they feature a cord pattern.
Courtesy of www.fabric.com
While solids, or a knit feature, such as above, are common with sweaters, checkered / argyle patterns are also commonplace. If opting for an argyle sweater, it is important to note that the sweater pattern will be a center piece of your ensemble. It is best to therefore pair this with a muted pattern shirt, blazer and jeans / chinos / pants!
Sweater colors will generally reflect the situations that they can be worn in. Darker colored sweaters are best reserved for more formal occasions, and also happen to be more versatile. Brighter colors, while drawing more attention to the wearer, can demonstrate a more laissez-faire attitude and give the impression that you don’t take things too seriously – perfect for party situations!
When choosing the right sweater, fit is of critical importance. If we use a v-neck as a standard example, in general, you want to allow your sweater to fit comfortably over your dress shirt, without excess fabric billowing from the sides and under your armpits. A tapered waist and higher armholes are therefore extremely important. You also want to be able to bring your sweater in to cover your shirt collar, with the shoulder seams placed firmly at the point where your shoulders meet your arms, and not on your shoulders itself!
A Men’s Sweater should fit snugly, without being too tight! Courtesy of http://www.bonobos.com
The most common place of them all, the crewneck, also known as pullovers or jumpers, has been a gentleman’s wardrobe staple for years. Crewneck sweaters are designed with a round neckline and a narrow band of ribbing. Simply slip it over your t-shirt and jeans, or strut it within a more business casual context with your chinos or pants. Given the shape around the collar, while they do permit the wear of neckties, they largely preclude their visibility. Hence, the combination of a sweater / tie would work best with its close cousin, the v-neck (below).
While crewnecks are typically made from cotton, the more luxurious editions come in ranges of wool and cashmere. Your crewneck sweater will come in handy whether you are dressing for daily work, an evening out at the local lounge, or both!
Solid Crewnecks: have no patterns and resemble standard t-shirts with long sleeves.
Striped / Patterned Crewnecks – These striped variants typically add more character to the sweater. Opt for stripes that include alternating white, given their neutral tone.
Courtesy of www.lyst.com
The v-neck sweater is essentially the same as a crew neck, except with a v-shaped neckline. This therefore makes it ideal for officewear, as it can be worn with a collared shirt and a tie.
The v-shape of the sweater allows the shirt underneath to pop out, providing for a less up tight appearance. Given that v-neck sweaters give you more flexibility with accessorizing your ensemble, you may want to include items like that bold novelty tie that you’ve been itching to show off! You could also include further textural variation by including a knitted tie – a perfect way to tie in seasonal garments into your attire!
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of novelty, Animal Print Ties!
Please feel free to view The Dark Knot’s range of Silk Knitted Ties!
A v-neck sweater provides you with the perfect opportunity to strut that tie! Courtesy of www.articlesofstyle.com
Finally, you could offset a darker colored v-neck sweater with some lighter colored ties, to add some additional flair to your wardrobe! Think pairing a light pink or blue tie with a navy or brown sweater! Like the mullet, this can be construed as business in the front and a party at the back!
To view The Dark Knot’s range of exquisite pink silk ties, please click here.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of stunning blue silk ties, please click here.
And please, under all circumstances, avoid pairing your v-neck with a natural rug. No body hairs please, especially if the v-neck is cut deep!
The turtleneck, ideal for those in colder conditions, features a tall collar that is folded over itself and hence double layered. Turtleneck sweaters belong to the category of thinner sweaters, making them ideal for layering with a heavier winter coat or jacket.
Over the years, the turtleneck sweater has had many connotations, both positive and negative, associated with it. Timeless, masculine and sometimes even partially sleazy, these sweaters were wildly popular before suffering a severe decline in popularity towards the end of the 20th century. In recent years, however, this sleek looking sweater has made its way back to the sartorial forefront.
Turtleneck sweaters are incredibly versatile, as you can find them in single tone wool variations to pair with a suit, or two tone options that can be used for more casual layering on the weekends!
A darker colored, well fitted turtleneck should be a staple in every dapper gentleman’s wardrobe. Paired with chinos or darker jeans, this sleek sweater will make any gentleman look leaner, taller and more stylish. Pair this with a suit or a jacket for a particularly refined look!
The Mock Neck is a simpler variation of the turtle neck, featuring, featuring fabric at the top of the collar that stands up around the neck rather than folding down. This is ideal for those who like the idea of wearing a turtle neck but don’t want the extra layer and bulk around the neck. Even more so than the turtleneck, the mock neck sweater accentuates your vertical lines, making you appear slimmer and taller.
A mock neck sweater, worn with a blazer! Courtesy of www.gq.com
The Cardigan, often referred to as the old man’s sweater, has valiantly fought itself back into sartorial relevance. A cardigan functions like a jacket, opening down the front with buttons or toggles. The best cardigans provide some taper around your waist, providing a slimming effect like suits or sports jackets do!
Despite their long held stigma of being the ‘old man’s sweater’ they have regained prominence, given how timeless they look. Cardigans can suit men of all ages, whether worn over a dress shirt or layered under a sports coat. Due to a cardigans thin construction, it should ideally be worn with a shirt and tie. The shirt collar and extra layer from the tie will provide your upper body with density, creating a more balanced overall look!
Looking to add some depth to your ensemble with a cardigan? Check out our range of Silk Knitted Ties, which provide the perfect level of depth!
A cardigan provides for an extremely smart look, especially when paired with a tie! Courtesy of www.pinterest.com
The Shawl Collar Sweater, a variation of the cardigan, provides a more formal and classic look. The shawl collar is a winter heavyweight that is typically constructed from wool or cashmere in a ribbed weave. This process thickens the fabric by interlaying layers across the warp or weft to increase the density of the sweater.
A shawl collar design is a staple business casual look. With a wide, turned down collar that narrows towards the chest area, this piece is ideal for standing out while looking sharp at the office!
A shawl collar knit can add a sense of sophistication to your ensemble! Wear your shawl collar sweater with a tie for an optimal look, with knit ties being the best complement given their textural similarities and weight.
To view The Dark Knot’s range of knit ties, please click here.
This highly versatile piece can be worn with denims and boots, or a button up shirt and pants.
Shawl Collar Sweaters provide your attire with textural depth and richness! Courtesy of www.hespokestyle.com
Now that was a lot of information to wrap our heads around! In summary, the following nuggets of information should serve as useful:
- Invest in a few woolen sweaters. They are a staple in every dapper gentleman’s wardrobe. However, given that they do lose 30% of their ability to retain heat when soaked, it is best to invest in one high quality cashmere sweater. While this may run you over a couple hundred dollars, you will make it back with it’s durability and style factor!
- Plain woven sweaters, while cooler with respect to insulation, provide a more formal look. Cable Knit sweaters, on the other hand, provide strong insulative properties and will add textural variation to your ensembles. Moreover, these sweaters help provide a more casual, rugged look, making them perfect for the weekends or evening wear!
- While darker colored sweaters are best reserved for more formal occasions, they also happen to be the most versatile.
- Sweater Fit is of paramount importance .You want to allow your sweater to fit comfortably over your dress shirt, without excess fabric billowing from the sides and under your armpits. A tapered waist and higher armholes are therefore extremely important.
- If wearing an argyle patterned sweater, it is best to keep the rest of your ensemble understated, with a solid shirt and dark denims or chinos. An argyled pattern sweater typically takes center stage, and it is therefore best to not conflict this with other louder articles of clothing!
- While crew neck sweaters should be a staple in your wardrobe, v-neck sweaters afford more flexibility with regards to layering. Given their lower cut, one can strut a fancy dress shirt and complementary tie with much more ease. Try opting for a textured tie such as a knit tie, to bring further textural depth to your winter attire.
- Turtleneck sweaters, given their softer composition, are ideal for layering. They also help accentuate your vertical lines, helping provide a slimming look! Mock neck sweaters provide an even more streamlined look, given that they are not folded over themselves (single layer covering the neck vs a double layer with the turtleneck sweater).
- The shawl collar sweater is a winter heavyweight that is a more formal variant of the cardigan. Wear your shawl collar sweater with a knitted tie for an optimal look!
And that’s a wrap for this one! I hope that you have enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it!