Tweeds and cashmere, woollens and heavy corduroy are what make a guy’s wardrobe interesting and masculine. And the purpose-built DNA of men’s cold weather clothing is what tends to make it so attractive.
Heavy canvas jackets with lots of pockets were used for hunting, chunky boots protected feet out in the field or trekking through mountainous terrain. According to tradition (though some dispute its veracity), the elaborate cabling of iconic Irish fisherman’s sweaters actually served a purpose; albeit a somewhat grim one. Each pattern belonged to a family and if a loved one drowned in the rough North Atlantic seas, the unique design would aid in identifying the lost soul.
Well, not all sweaters perform such a dramatic job and the one I’ll talk about today serves a much more prosaic (though equally important) set of functions: to keep you warm and make you look good.
One of the most versatile pieces of clothing that should be in every man’s fall wardrobe is a fine gauge v-neck sweater; jumper to our European readers. Just like having a pair of classic dark washed jeans that can take you from the office casual to drinks at the Ritz, a classic v-neck sweater will cover a lot of bases without overdoing it.
Now, I’m not talking about a chunky ski sweater or that shapeless holdover used for yard work. This sweater should be considered the equivalent of dress clothing. You want something that is lightweight, lightly fitted, and soft. Cashmere is the best choice of course, but depending on quality and brand name, it can be very expensive.
A personal note: unless you plan to spend lots of time at fancy outdoor events where you can brag about how much your sweater costs, don’t bother with double and triple thick cashmere. Most of us are wearing these indoors at work or home and the extra thickness will only make you extra warm.
As an alternative to cashmere, merino wool is an excellent fabric. Look for tightly knit fabric that is soft to the touch and a comfortable fit.
Stick with solids at first – grey, brown, navy blue, and black. Once you have the basics in place, add an argyle for that college professor look. Indeed, this season there is a fair amount of variety when it comes to knits and texture and you can add some flair to your wardrobe with cables, heathers, and rough-weaves. Crew necks, sweater vests, and cardigans are all in this season as well, so make sure to check out the many options.
The v-neck sweater is a timeless piece that, when chosen carefully, can be happily used for years. Several seasons back a deeper “v” was favored, while these days a higher neck line is preferred. Generally speaking, I like the “v” to fall about two inches (roughly 5 cm) from the neck line as it provides room for a shirt collar to spread out while at the same time still containing it.
Wear your sweater over a tee shirt with dressy jeans and you’re pulling off George Clooney-like cool. For a classic preppy look, throw it over an oxford and head off to a lunch meeting. If you are having dinner at a nice place but a jacket is still too formal, reach for your v-neck as the perfect compromise. Regardless, you’re good to go with this classically flexible layer.