A Gentleman’s Guide: How To Keep Your Cool in Wool

From cashmere to cable knits, patterns to polonecks, don’t get tied up in knots by knitwear. In the latest edition of A Gentleman’s Guide, we check out how to keep your cool in wool:


  • Photograph by Mr Adam Katz Sinding

Wait, we know what you’re thinking. Knitwear. Sounds a bit… cosy, right? All homely cardigans and comedy Christmas jumpers. Well, think again. Knits are one of the most versatile elements of a gentleman’s wardrobe, from sleek cashmere crew-necks to chunky cable-knit rollnecks, via raw-seamed boiled-wool coats that verge on the, yes, edgy. The new skinny fits and smart cuts sit equally well with tailoring as with downtime denim, and accessories, from gloves to scarves, provide ample opportunities for midwinter colour and dash. Oh, and not incidentally, they’ll keep out the cold while radiating style. And just so you don’t get tied up in knots, here’s a nifty guide.


  • Photograph by Ms Carola de Armas/Blaublut Edition

If the devil really does reside in the detail, then the coming of knitwear season gives you ample opportunity to go properly satanic. Judicious use of layering, along with colour and textural contrasts, can add fiendish pep and zing to your cold-weather armour. Just look at the way this gentleman pulls back the sleeves of his topcoat to reveal his sweatercuffs – a lilting sky-blue counterpoint amid a symphony of greys – and sets off the mottling of the gloves against the impeccably Spartan hues in play elsewhere. There could be no greater incentive, as the nights draw in, for embracing the dark side.


  • Photograph by Ms Melanie Galea/thestreetmuse.it

Certain things just work better when boiled – eggs (soft, mind), wagyu beef (sous vide, naturally) and wool. The shrinkage that occurs in the process results in a tighter, felt-like texture that’s regarded as the ne plus ultra of snugness, wind resistance and durability. In fact, it may be the perfect pelt for repelling the season’s ravages, particularly when you add style and substance to the equation, as this gentleman has, by accentuating the slouch of his boiled coat with a generous shawl collar and ample patch pockets, and using its camel-brown and grey-blue bands, along with the turn-back cuffs, to throw his black and grey ensemble into sharp, if not simmering, relief.


  • Photograph by Ms Melodie Jeng

It’s not just Messrs Aesop and Charles Dickens who appreciate the value of a good yarn. Connoisseurs of cloth come into their own at this time of year, when words such as weave, warp, weft and grain are bandied about like hot chestnuts. This gentleman is making a bold textural statement by opting for a chunky sweater and scarf in tone-on-tone marbled grey. The temptation to say “what the fleck?” is alleviated by the scarf’s artful drape and the playfully oversized proportions – a nod, perhaps, to the ongoing trend for outsized hoodies and sweats that’s enlivened the past few seasons. However you slice it, this is prime rib.


  • Photograph by Ms Elena Braghieri/Getty Images

One of the surefire ways to heat up an eastern winter – as well as throwing some hearty and hearth-ready colour and pattern into the knitwear mix – is to follow the advice of Village People and “Go West”. The Native American- and Pendleton-inspired prints sported by these gentlemen work equally well on shawl cardigans or wool overshirts, and will add true grit to the Western-inspired styles offered by the likes of Saint Laurent and Valentino this season, whether you’re on the trail of the lonesome pine or simply on the scent of a warming pub lunch in “wild” West Hampstead.


  • Photograph by Mr YoungJun Koo/Lickerish Ltd

The knitwear and tailoring combo is an access-all-areas shoo-in for the smart-casualage, particularly when brands such as Berluti and Ermenegildo Zegna are offering slim-fit cashmere and silk-blend rollnecks that entreat, nay, demand to be worn under suitsand blazers for a breezy mien, even as the breezes start to bite. This gentleman plays with the whole formal-informal, utility-frippery thing by tucking the sweater in while teasing the neckline into Elizabethan-ruff territory. He also elongates his arm silhouette by pulling his sleeves way down to fashion a grunge cuff. Proof, if any were needed, that sprezzatura is a trans-seasonal fetish.


  • Photograph by Mr Jason Lloyd Evans

Knitwear may be soft, by its very nature, but it’s far from spineless. Just look at the way this gentleman pairs a rugged fawn rollneck with a shearling coat to create his own take on the WWI flying ace look, last seen on Mr Julian Cope in the 1981 video for The Teardrop Explodes’ “Reward”, and well overdue a mainstream revival, in MR PORTER’s humble opinion. Bag a chunky rollneck from Belstaff or Nigel Cabourn, and take your shearling pick from LoeweLoro Piana or Dries Van Noten, and you’ll be ready for anything that the elements – or even passing Red Barons – can unload on you.


  • Photograph by IMAXtree

Bad things about winter: the cold, the dark, chilblains. Good things about winter: roaring log fires, hot toddies, scarves. The finishing touch to any self-respecting cold-weather outfit, the scarf can add a touch of silk-cashmere swag, a pop of colour, a study in tonal contrast, or a rakish elan, whether tied low or high in a twice-around, a chest-warmer or – MR PORTER’s personal favourite – the Byzantine complexity of the seven-stage fake knot. “Scarf up the tender eye of pitiful day,” wrote Mr William Shakespeare, which we’re pretty sure is a paean to the time he suffered a corneal abrasion while attempting to negotiate a reverse drape cross.

~Mr Porter


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