I have a confession to make; I wear v-neck jumpers that are actually made for women. I have never sought to hide the fact, but I am sometimes asked exactly where in Zara Man I manage to find such slim fitting jumpers and so, due to this pressure, must come clean. I have picked up countless shades of the same item of knitwear from the Zara stores dotted around London and am rather delighted to be able to do so, especially as each jumper costs less than a tenner.
I do own, and wear, jumpers designed for gentlemen but I rarely wear these with suits or odd jackets. They are too thick, too lumpy and too substantial to wear in a smart ensemble; the Zara knitwear, by comparison, is thin and perfectly fitted. It adds warmth and colour to the ensembles without adding pounds and folds. It’s unfortunate for menswear retailers that my substantial interest in v-neck jumpers cannot be sated by their wares but it is down to my rather awkward and tiny frame; some retailers have ceased to stock the ‘XS’ size I require for the garment to fit correctly. As such, they no longer enjoy my custom.
It’s a relief then that when it comes to ‘big knits’, I can return to the menswear department with glee; there’s no chance of me attempting to squeeze an item of this type in the sleeves of my hounds tooth jacket. For the ‘big knit’ is a standalone item. It has no association with suits or blazers. It is an item of comfort and familiarity. On the breeziest of breezy autumn days, you can wander out into the world with nothing else between your Jermyn Street shirt and the worsening winds than this lovely, woolly, heart-warmingly cosy creation of knitwear.
Despite the belief that big knits are simply uber-trendy, J Lindeberg-ish items for painfully skinny ‘twenty-sumfings’, they are actually items appropriate for men of all ages and can be accommodated in wardrobes of varying styles. Although often worn by less conservative chaps with t-shirts, fashion denim and pointed shoes, big knits also look fantastic with shirts, ties and bow ties; paired with smart trousers and loafers, such an ensemble gives a fine, off-duty matinee idol look. Very Doug Fairbanks.
The most important thing to remember about big knits is that they require a lower half of contrasting formality and finesse; big, tough old jeans and khakis make the whole look rather slovenly and unless you wish to look like a clueless teen, avoid training shoes. It has to appear that, although the knit is an item of comfort for the gentleman, underneath it all he is still a devastatingly dapper blade.
Shawl collared knits look the best with ties and bow ties and have a youthful, Twenties Ivy League charm that can be accentuated with tasselled loafers and Argyle socks.