VII. Knits & Sweaters
Knits as a category span a wide range of formality. From the casual short sleeve polo shirt to a very dressy sixteen gauge Cashmere crew. There is more newness in style and functionality than any other category in our opinion.
First, the difference between a knit and a woven:
A knit fabric is formed by looping a continuous yarn into rows or braids. A woven is formed with interlocking yarns that cross at right angles on a loom. A sweater would be an example of a knit – and a traditional dress shirt in an Oxford weave an example of a woven.
The advantages of a knit are stretch (more mobility), recovery(wrinkle resistant), a closer fit option (popular today), and thermal (the body’s heat and moisture can pass easily through when warm or be captured more efficiently when cool).The gauge of a knit has most to do with the thickness and look of a knit. To keep it simple: a lighter gauge is thinner and visually more formal (like a Cashmere v-neck). A heavier gauge is thicker and more casual (like a Fisherman cable knit crew).
Very important and a lot do to with the style and functionality of a knit is the staple fiber and resultant yarn. As with everything in a “Fit Kit”, buy less – but buy good. The higher quality yarns will last longer, provide more softness and comfort, and retain their color and shape. The best yarns for cotton and wool knitwear are Pima cotton and Merino wool.
Knits you should have in a “Fit Kit” and how to wear them.
Knits as only layer or first layer:
1. Polo shirt, both short and long sleeve. Our favorite yarns are Peruvian Pima cotton for warmer weather and Merino wool in cooler weather. Stick to neutral colors like black, navy, grey and shades of tan until you have six. In a refined knit like an interlock or jersey, a polo is a great layer under a suit or sports jacket. Much more stylish than an open collar woven shirt and miles ahead in comfort.
2. 1/4 zip neck long sleeve - Same yarns and colors as above. In cotton, layer under a woven sport shirt.
3. Short sleeve crew neck in Peruvian Pima cotton. The iconic American tee shirt. Wear as you would a polo shirt or layer under a woven shirt or ¼ zip in a complimentary tonal color. Start with navy and black.
4. Turtleneck in Pima cotton, Merino wool or Cashmere. Remember, “everyone looks great in a black Cashmere turtleneck”.
Knits for second layer or outer layer:
1. Light gauge crew in either Merino wool or Cashmere. Most men will be more comfortable with a short sleeve crew layered underneath. Also looks great under a suit or sports jacket. Start with grey (looks great with denim)
then add navy, black and brown in that order.
2. Shetland wool crew neck. Comfortable by itself with a short sleeve crew under or wear over a woven shirt or collared knit like a polo shirt. Go for soft heathery earth colors first.
3. Cardigan in Merino wool. So many styling options here. Casual with jeans or worn as a blazer with a tie. Navy first.
4. Pullover or button front sleeveless v-neck. Merino or Alpaca are our favorite yarns for an extra layer for style and warmth. For colors, think about what you would wear it under.
5. Cashmere cable crew. An affordable luxury item that dresses up any outfit a notch or two. Make a statement with a color like gold/yellow, pine green or royal blue.
Fit and Care
The style today is a closer fit and because of a knit’s ability to stretch and return to shape, knits do this very well. Here is a simple guideline for fit: lay the sweater out and measure the chest straight across then multiply by 2. This is the chest measure and should be about 3-4” bigger than your chest. For a looser, more classical fit, 5” bigger. Sleeves should end about 1” to 1.5” beyond the wrist bone. The shoulder seam (where the arm ends and the shoulder begins) should be just about where your shoulder ends unless the style of the sweater is to have the shoulder seam drop off a bit. The length of the body of the sweater should be just at or a little below the beltline. Trust your instincts; stand back in the mirror and have a look. If the sweater doesn’t look right, it isn’t. Alterations to a sweater are generally not a good
Cotton sweaters can be machine washed and laid flat on a towel to dry. A little time in the dryer at medium heat is ok if the sweater has stretched and needs to be brought back in size. Wool, Alpaca and Cashmere can be dry cleaned or hand laundered (best if you have the time and patience) and laid flat on a towel to dry. One of the most exciting new things in menswear are button front shirts (that look like a woven shirt) but are constructed in a knit fabric. The close fit (not tight) is flattering, comfortable and stylish. We even show them worn with a jacket and tie in the right patterns. A real plus is that they dry on the hanger ready to wear.