Men’s Guide to Knitwear Necklines

Men’s Guide to Knitwear Necklines

Men, we show you how to choose the best neckline for your knitwear 

I love knitwear and with it being the ideal replacement for a shirt (that you tediously have to iron) knitwear lends itself perfectly to the new smart/casual look. Not recommended for meetings by any stretch but chilly days in the office, a weekend lunch or for some super stylish layering, then you can’t go too far wrong with a great selection of knitwear.

The neckline of your sweater (or jumper, depending on where you’re from), truly influences the style of your look. But with so many options, it can be tricky to decide which neckline to wear for which occasion. Our guide will take you through the most common necklines for knitwear and how to pair them.

Crew neck

Our favourite here at Alexandra Wood A crew neck is a sweater that has no collar, designed with a contrasting stitch on the curved neckline and cuffs to add interest and definition. Crew necks were originally created as sweatshirts for rowers and were used as far back as 1939 and are an easy, stylish solution for a throw on piece of knitwear that requires little thought. (Just make sure it’s tailored and made from natural fibres. Polyester have no place in a classy man’s wardrobe…)

A crew neck sweater can be worn with or without a t-shirt underneath and is deemed as the more casual styles of knitwear. 

Wool crew necks

Chunky wool crew neck sweaters look great with a textured sports jacket in Autumn/Winter but make sure its lighter weight wool, and a fine knit as it can become too warm and slightly uncomfortable if it's too chunky. Heavier knits are best worn on their own or under an overcoat.

Cotton crew necks

A cotton crew neck looks great layered over a t-shirt and paired with a relaxed sports jacket or casual jacket like a bomber jacket.

V-neck

A v-neck sweater is aptly named as the neckline creates a V shape. As with crew neck sweaters, the neckline and cuffs are made in a contrasting stitch to define these elements.

V-neck sweaters first appeared on the men's fashion scene in the 1920s when men referred to them simply as pullovers. Bright colours or patterns such as checks were favoured by young men, while the Fair Isle design appeared on golf courses in the US and UK. At the same time, tennis players began wearing white V-neck jumpers with a cable knit and brightly striped neckline before and after matches. Today you’ll find them in a multitude of colours, materials and weights.  

When styling your sweater, a shallow V-neck works perfectly with a shirt and tie as it allows for the collar to sit nicely and the tie knot to sit above the neckline. Deeper V-necks work better with open collars.

Roll neck

The origins of the roll neck or 'turtleneck' jumper can be traced back to medieval knights who wore high collars to protect their necks from chaffing under their chainmail and helmets. Fast-forward several centuries, and English polo players wore high necks as part of their uniform before they became part of everyday wear for the working classes.

By the 1920s, it was playwright Noel Coward who proudly wore the look and popularised it; however, it disappeared for a decade or two, save for being worn as workwear or by fisherman. In the 1950s skin-tight versions were worn by style icons like Audrey Hepburn, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Robert Redford. High necks hit the rock’n’roll scene in the 1960s, being worn by the Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In more recent times, Daniel Craig wore a beautiful chunky version in James Bond, and they became synonymous with Apple's Steve Jobs, who wore roll necks and jeans like a uniform.  

Roll neck sweaters are undoubtedly a cool looking piece of knitwear, but we understand that some men don’t like wearing fabric around their neck.

They look good with almost any style of trousers. Choose a dark pair of jeans for a casual look, or pair your roll neck withflannel trousers or black wool trousers for a sleek, monochrome look.

We recommend using James Bond (Sean Connery, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig) for inspiration to create an outfit with a roll neck jumper that says ‘sophisticated’ and ‘I just threw this on’ at the same time.

Polo tops

The polo shirt as we know it was invented by French tennis player Rene Lacoste (known as "the crocodile") in 1926. Frustrated with wearing a restrictive white shirt on the court, he created a shirt in soft pique cotton with a flat collar, short button-down placket and a longer tail so he could tuck it in. After wearing them throughout his career, he began mass marketing the design (complete with his signature crocodile motif) after his retirement in 1933. It wasn’t long before polo players, who were already wearing soft shirts with button-down collars, adopted them. Finally, in the 1950s, Izod spread the design in the US, followed by a revival by Ralph Laurenin the 1970s.

This style generally has a small collar and a placket with three buttons. We offer them in long and short versions, which work well under a sports jacket and jeans for a smart-casual look out of the office.

Classic pique cotton

This fabric lends itself to an off-duty look, so pair a pique cotton polo shirt with jeans or chinos for an unfussy casual look.

Merino wool

Perfect for those mild days between seasons, both long or short versions pair well with jeans or flannel trousers. Jeff Goldblum has been photographed sporting a merino polo top with short sleeves perfectly at 65+, showing that anyone can look sexy in a polo.

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