A Man’s Guide to Pullovers
Knitwear encompasses a wide range of garments, within these types of garments there are a large number of different designs, materials and coloring’s which make them unique. From cotton knit Christmas sweaters to designer cardigans, the range available is vast. For the sake of this article we will cover most types of contemporary Pullover which you will likely find in a retail store. Beyond this we will look at the different popular materials used, common designs within the different garments and their preferred colours.
When to Wear A Pullover
Depending on the type of garment, knitwear is usually worn in one of two different environments; casual or smart casual. Traditionally, the most common setting you will see knitwear be worn is in a casual environment, whether it’s at home or out and about. Knitwear can be a great versatile piece in a casual setting, ideal for keeping you warm when the weather turns cold whilst not being restricting enough to being forced into wearing it all day. Being a secondary layer usually worn over a t-shirt or shirt, knitwear can be removed much like a coat when indoors and put back on when entering a colder environment.
This versatility is the reason that knitwear, despite in certain types appearing casual, has also seen popularity in a smart casual setting. Indeed in the post-IT workplace it’s even possible to see smart knitwear be worn in and about the office. Obviously this is highly dependent on the style of knitwear worn; however the boon of an extra layer is an invaluable asset.
Regardless of the setting, knitwear can add an extra visual layer that can help to create an aesthetically pleasing outfit and is a great tool in any man’s wardrobe that should be properly utilized.
We will cover the types of Pullover garment in some depth and give an overview of whether it is best worth in a casual or smart casual setting.
Types of Knitwear Garment
As previously mentioned there are a large variety of different garments available when it comes to knitwear, some more popular than others. Knitwear over the ages has seen a varying popularity among men, with styles coming and going over time as trends differ. However, there have been some key garments which have retained some amount of popularity over time. Within this article we will be solely discussing the Pullover, a timeless staple of the knitwear world.
The Pullover (Jumper, Sweater, Jersey)
The Pullover, otherwise known by its many different names: jumper, sweater and jersey, is arguably the most recognizable piece of knitwear and its design has largely been unchanged over the years. Although the term “sweater” can refer directly to a pullover, many people use the word in a general sense to mean a large number of knitwear garments, so for clarity we are talking specifically about the pullover.
The name Pullover owes itself to the most distinguishable quality of the sweater. The garment must be pulled over your head to be worn rather than buttoned, zipped or otherwise worn. There are a number of different styles of pullover, primarily revolving around changing the neck area.
The Crew Neck Pullover
Regarded as many as the most classic and timeless of designs, the crew neck pullover sits as a staple piece in any men’s wardrobe. Truly a versatile piece, the crew neck pullover can be worn both in casual or smart casual attire. Defined by its lack of collar, it also has a round neckline that lies around the base of your neck. Typically a crew neck pullover will have a ribbed neckline.
More commonly seen in a casual setting, the crew neck pullover lends itself to variety of different outfits. Worn with a polo shirt or otherwise a shirt that would not reveal its own neckline can give a great “naked” look that fits with a pair of jeans. Whilst worn with a pair of chinos and a collared shirt can give a smarter look to a casual outfit.
With a smart casual outfit, it’s not entirely unheard of to see a crew neck being worn with a tie and collared shirt although this look is usually reserved for the V Neck variation. Usually due to the shaping of the crew neckline a tie would remain relatively hidden and so it is hard to justify the purpose. However, a collared button down shirt with trousers can help create a smarter outfit whilst being worn under a blazer can create some aesthetically pleasing outfits.
The V Neck Pullover
Similar to the Crew Neck, the V Neck is a great dynamic piece of clothing which can see a lot of versatility within your wardrobe. The V Neck is often seen as a step up on the formal meter from the Crew Neck with its neckline having a more traditional and conventional look. Whilst other knitwear garments may look to different patterns and colours to compliment the outfit, the V Neck lends itself to a subtlety with basic colours and plain designs.
Depending on the season, the colours of a V Neck pullover remain relatively basic, with simple greys, blacks and navies dominating the shelves. In a casual setting the V Neck is diverse and really hearkens back to the idea of knitwear as a versatile piece of clothing. When worn with a plain coloured under-shirt with jeans the V Neck gives a great laid back look.
The V Neck is arguably one of the best choices when looking for a smart casual knitwear garment. It is also alongside perhaps one or two others the most likely knitwear to be seen in the workplace. Not only does it lend itself handily to a dress shirt, however it can often be seen combined with a tie.
Again, as with the Crew Neck, the V Neck usually features a ribbed neckline.
The Roll Collar
Also known as the Roll Neck, the Roll Collar pullover features an elongated neckline that covers the wearer’s neck. This extra protection is perfect for those quintessential knitwear months over winter and autumn. It’s for this very reason that the Roll Collar has seen a large amount of popularity out on the ski slopes, especially in the world of après ski.
The Roll Collar almost exclusively sees wear in a casual setting and very rarely in a formal or even smart casual one. That said it isn’t’isn’t entirely impossible to create a smart looking outfit that utilizes the roll collar, however unless you have a clear vision of your style it is advised against. The garment can be worn under a casual jacket for even more warmth and a layered look with jeans or chinos.
It’s also worth mentioning that the roll collar is best avoided by people who have small necks as it can give off an uncomfortable and unfitting look. Another thing to look out for is whether the Roll Collar pullover is lightweight or heavier depending on the materials and style. Whilst a lightweight Roll Collar might be suited for a look closer to smart casual, its heavier alternative is better for a cosier more casual feel.
Zip Neck Pullover
The Zip Neck Pullover, Half-Zip or ¼ Zip is a very versatile variant on the pullover which is equally suited as an outer layer or middle layer. Its V Neck style acts in a similar way to a dress shirt and brings attention upwards to your face.
The Zip Neck can often ride the line between cheapening an outfit and complimenting it, not only is a holistic approach required when planning your outfit but the quality of the pullover can be incredibly important. For this reason it’s not advised to go half measures when purchasing a zip neck and you should look for some of the higher quality materials such as merino.
When worn with a sports jacket, an unimposing shirt and a pair of jeans, the Zip Neck can help compliment a great casual outfit.
Positives of the Pullover
- Great layering piece.
- Can be worn as casual or smart casual.
Negatives of the Pullover
- Not always ideal in a formal setting.
- Heavier as a middle layer than other alternatives such as a Gilet.
Previously on the Coes Blog we have taken an in depth look at Merino Wool on our What is Merino Wool article.
For simplicity sake we will give a brief overview of the different common materials you will find from knitwear on the high-street shops as well as some positives and negatives of each.
Probably the most common type of material a pullover will be made from and the one you’re most likely to see is Lambswool. Lambswool is named after the fact it is collected during the first shearing of a lamb. The great thing about Lambswool over other materials is that the fibers are very short and soft which allows for a great insulating and breathable pullover that is extremely comfortable to wear. For this reason, the Lambswool jumper makes an excellent choice for the winter season.
- Fairly inexpensive
- Good insulator of heat
- Heavier than some other materials.
- Can be itchier than merino
Merino Wool Pullover
You may have heard of Merino wool before as it is a highly desirable type of wool that has seen a lot of popularity over time. Merino wool is ranked as one of the best wools in terms of quality (having been regarded as some of the softest and finest wool) and comes from the Merino sheep. Usually due to its desirability, the cost of a merino pullover is higher than its lambswool counterpart. Typically a merino pullover will be thinner, softer and more durable, although for the most part not as warm as a lambswool.
- Cooler than many other materials
- Less pilling (when small balls gather on your sweater from fabric wear)
- Very Soft
- More expensive than lambswool
- Heavier than cashmere
If you’re looking for something to bulk up then a cotton pullover tends to be the thickest material. However despite their relative thickness, they are actually cooler than wool. For this reason, some people feel that the relative weight to warmth isn’t a good trade-off for the material. If you’re looking for something that is a bit cooler on those warmer days then you could do worse than a cotton pullover.
- Cooler for warmer weather
- Easy to care for
- Can be worn almost any season
- Poor weight to warmth ratio
Cashmere, over the years has become synonymous with quality and can have the price tag to match. Coming from the Cashmere goat with long and fine hair, the relative scarcity has caused the price of cashmere to be higher than those other materials. You’ll have to keep an eye on the tags to see whether it’s a 100% cashmere pullover or a mixed blend which adds different properties. A cashmere knit is not only warm but very light.
- Great warmth to weight ratio
- Very light
- Soft and comfy to wear
- Doesn’t itch
- Expensive relative to other materials.
- Might be harder to find in a style you want
Fabric Mix Pullover
Sometimes you’ll come across a pullover that is a mixture of two or more different fabrics, such as a mixture of nylon and wool. The reason for this can be one of two things, either to reduce the cost or to improve the performance of the material by taking on board the properties of the added material. If you’re looking for a pure fabric pullover then make sure you look at the label, because even though it may say cashmere, it’s possible that it’s a mix.
- Positives from two types of materials.
- Cheaper than a pure material
- The fabric mix may not feel the same as a single type of material.
Knitwear design encompasses not only style but also practicality; this is what makes knitwear a versatile and functional piece of attire. When purchasing Knitwear, as with design, the visual should only be part of the consideration, with the practicality being the other.
At Coes we offer a range of knitwear that you can find on our Jumpers and Cardigans page.