The man of style and substance is both discerning and dogged in his pursuit of elements to add to his wardrobe. They must fill more than one niche, of high quality, and designed with both aesthetic and serviceable qualities in mind. We who are driven to pursue style even while remaining committed to priorities (and budgets) are careful in our acquisitions but ever mindful of the items that can be added to dress an outfit up or down. Enter the sweater! While not in the category of a suit, it can perform many of the same functions. and while alone it is not enough to fend off the elements in many outdoor situations, with a little thought it can be a wonderful addition to pieces that are insufficient alone.
Let me be clear, I am not thinking of a sweater like Mr. Rogers cardigans. There is a time and place for such a sweater, but they are not necessarily a style piece. They are functional to a fault, and while they lend themselves to style rich pieces, what I am thinking of is definitely a different item.
The sweater I am referring to is typically made of acrylic or blended with cotton or wool to give a high warmth without feeling like a track jacket or sweatshirt. It isn’t fleece, but instead is woven with thicker fibers and finished to prevent easy snagging while retaining a more organic feel.
Typically, the sweater I am thinking of is cut closer to the body and likely with a longer than waist hem. It may or may not have waist pockets, but will invariably have a chest pocket, perfect for storing a mobile phone. It zips, allowing it to vent and hold in heat, depending on the needs of the wearer, and it is likely finished in colors that make it easy to match to various trousers or pants.
Did I say trousers? Why yes I did. The sweater I am speaking of would look fine paired with the right slacks and dress shirt, and can even make a tie look less formal, but can also be paired with jeans or twills and a mock turtleneck and become a step above casual. Comfortable in both the board room and the ski lift, it can be worn as a layering piece in both arenas without losing any of its credibility.
Most of us, when we are thinking about a piece to wear over a shirt, go immediately to the sport coat. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t. But I am suggesting that, if you can look through your closet and not find at least one or two good sweaters, maybe it’s time to change targets. Use the sweater to dress up jeans and a polo, pairing the outfit with a pair of dressy styled slipons. Or use the sweater to give the dress shirt and slacks an approachability factor that every favorite uncle is known for. Experiment with this wonderful piece, pick one up in neutral colors, and another in some rich tones, and see what it does for your style choices.
I am careful about recommending brands, because you con’t always get what you pay for, but The North Face and Columbia both have some wonderful options, as does Eddie Bauer and Banana Republic. But look around, and you will find options galore.
What do you think about the option of using a sweater to expand your wardrobe options, and if you desire, leave a thought about your favorite sweater.