Knitwear - Styles That Have Stood the Test of Time

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Knit is special. You feel the raw material at its most natural stage and it is one of the oldest crafts in garment making. It can be rough or it can be refined, but it is always cosy and nice to wear.

In the ocean off the Irish west coast there is a small island called Inis Meáin. The small population lives in symbiosis with the ocean. While the fishermen went to sea, their wives would knit them sweaters to keep them warm. Over generations a great tradition of craftsmanship accumulated, and today Inis Meáin is home to the world’s most remote knitting company.

The video by Mr Porter shows the glorious island and their rugged knitting style. 

If you are looking for something more refined, there is a Parisian tailoring house with an entirely different offer to the little Irish Island. The renowned tailor Cifonelli have in recent years added knitwear to compliment their 140 year long tradition of bespoke tailoring.

Their knitwear is more appropriate for a dinner at a Michelin restaurant than a fishing boat, but “there is a time for everything” as the saying goes. 

Cifonelli works mostly with cashmere and a famous for their knitted double breasted blazer which is constructed as a real piece of tailoring.


Now that we have outlined the knitwear spectrum from rugged to refined, we have to talk about style.

There are three classic knitwear styles which all have different necklines. They are all available in different materials, thicknesses and patterns.

The V Neck has an open neck line this works very well with a dress shirt and tie. 

The crew neck is more closed and slightly more casual. It works great with a t-shirt or an Oxford shirt underneath. 

The roll neck, or “turtle neck”, is almost an outfit in itself as you cannot see what is underneath. The neck can be different lengths, some are just slightly higher than a crew neck while others are rolled multiple times, hence the name.

It is not necessary to have all three models in your wardrobe. Most people will have a strong preference for either the V neck or the crew neck and the roll neck is beloved by almost everybody who have tried them. They are versatile, comfortable and perfect for a smart and simple autumn outfit.

For real knitwear enthusiasts, there are many other models available. Knit can be tailored like a woven fabric and soft blazers can be created. Zippers can be introduced, with especially the half zip sweater being popular with a crisp dress shirt. Lastly, if you want to feel like a comfortable gentleman when you are at home, try a shawl lapel cardigan. You can pair it with a nice t-shirt or a shirt and tie in the style of Mr. Higgins from My Fair Lady, perhaps with a pair of suede loafers.

Where wool and cashmere will keep you warm during winter, knitted cotton and linen can be great for warm spring evenings. If you are not so lucky as to have a great knitter in the family to supply you with cosy wooly sweaters, you can still enjoy knitwear even more if you take the time to learn about the exciting knitwear manufactures around the world. 

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