I’ve always liked shawl-collar cardigans. One reason is that I have a long neck, which benefits from a collar. T-shirts and round-neck sweaters tend to make me look scrawny. Shirts, polo shirts and polo-collared sweaters provide more support.

This links to the second reason, which is the shawl collar’s versatility. A T-shirt is fine for Sunday mornings, but a shirt and tie also works for dress-down Friday. And it is the default choice when I get home because I know it will work with whatever else I am wearing.

The shawl-collar cardigan is more comfortable than a jacket around the house and more stylish than a normal cardigan. I always like clothes that are functional as well, so the fact the collar can usually be turned up and buttoned across appeals.

I have a few favourites. One is an old charcoal Ralph Lauren I bought during a conference in Chicago years ago. A second was an acquisition earlier this year from Albam – in a chunky cotton, which is unusual, and the last style they had made by Stevenage Knitting. And the third is the Drake’s cashmere sweater pictured.

Michael Drake calls the sweater iconic. I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it has certainly been popular (as demonstrated by the special orders now available) and I’ve coveted the flannel grey version for going on a year. Having finally secured it, I recommend going for a relatively big size – I’m a 39-inch chest, but the XS (38 inch) was rather too short in the body and the S (42 inch) fit far better. It is not a very slim fit, but then a comfortable sweater like this shouldn’t be.
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You might also like the shawl collar sweater made in lambswool and sold by Ben Silver. Far better quality and finer features than is found on most woolen shawl sweaters and less expensive than cashmere versions.


I`ve been always enjoying reading your blog.
One question but what kind of style do you recommend for people with relatively short neck?


Hello Simon,

I am in the market for a shawl cardigan. Unfortunately, as a student, Drake’s beautiful Version for 700 is completely out of the question for me. Can you recommend a cheaper alternative?



Hi Simon,
following your suggestion I did some additional research and got lost in the byzantine online world of scotish cashmere: It appears to me that Drake’s wonderful “Iconic Shawl Collar Cardigan” is in fact identical to William Lockie’s “Windsor Shawl Collar Jacket”. For some strange reason however this producer (Lockie) has absolutely no intention at all to sell those, but instead lists a couple of phone number. Using those I eventually ended up at “Heather Wallace” which appears to be an online shop which offers the very same cardigans as Drake’s but makes no mention of William Lockie at all. Looking at the source code and credits of the homepages it appears that they (Wallace and Drake) are connected. I feel confused.


Hi Simon, thanks for the lovely and informative post. I’m looking into purchasing one of these and I noticed that you sized up to a Small (42). Do you mean the 40 (which drakes labels S) or the 42 (which drakes labels M)? cheers


Do you know if the Drake’s model is cut exactly the same Lockies own ‘Windsor’ model? As the arms are far too baggy in my opinion.


The Drakes is made by Lockie and is exactly the same as their Windsor model. Worth noting that the Armoury cardigan is also the Lockie Windsor model.

If you buy it directly from Lockie it will have their label in it, not a Drakes or Armoury label, but it will be considerably cheaper.

Why pay more?


I would agree if they did some, any designing work on the piece, like you usually do in your collaborations. They didn’t, they are just carrying Lockie’s product (like many other retailers do), but with their label stitched on. There’s absolutely no creativity to pay for there, so I don’t feel like I got any service out of Drake’s that warrants such huge upcharge.
You could at most argue that they “featured the piece in look books”, but I didn’t find it there, I found it from this article. Therefore, if anything I should be paying you, not Drake, for the upcharge. Which I am already doing through the various ads on the site.


Is lambswool more insulating than cashmere? Do you like your cashmere cardigan more? Does it pill? In appearance they look quite similar.


Lambswool is also more durable, isnt’ it?


Simon reply buttons not working, so this comment is in relation to Lockie above. Cant really agree with you I’m afraid. Drakes and Armoury both sell lots of products which are so unique to them that you would still go there for these items. My point is that a savvy shopper can get identical quality/make etc direct from the source and save significant sums of money. That is why, in these cases, both Drakes and Armoury talk about partnerships/scotland’s finest/traditions etc as a way of bigging up their product without mentioning Lockie.

Frankly, its hard to find better quality and value in classic knitwear styles than from WM, so not sure why anyone would want to look elsewhere.


Yes of course, supporting any brand or shop you get value from makes sense Simon. Which is why I buy virtually all of my knitwear from Lockie. I am supporting a brand I get value from, and in doing so I don’t have to pay a hefty mark up to buy the identical product from a “different” brand with a “different” label on it.


Hi Simon – read through a few of your posts on Shawl-Cardigans. Seems that you have two principle concerns when it comes to sizing: how the cardigan fits around the waist; and how long it runs. It seems that there may sometimes be tension between these principles – a smaller size might fit better around the waist (as you mention in your other post on Shawl-Cardigans), but might run a bit too short (as you mention here). Any tips on how to navigate this tension?


Thanks, Simon. It sounds quite intuitive now that you put it that way. Very helpful!

Keith E.

Hello, Mr. Crompton. I love your site as I always reference it whenever looking into style. One thing I’ve come across recently while searching for a leather jacket is something called a Cossack jacket that has a shawl collar. I’m curious what your take is on the style if you’ve come across it before.

Keith E.


This is one of the examples of a Cossack that I’m looking at. I recently discovered that Albert Einstein wore one made by Levi’s.

Keith E.

Thank you for you input. I greatly appreciate you taking time to respond. It doesn’t matter that Einstein wore one. I just thought it was interesting. Take care.


Hello Simon,
Would a shawl cardigan, like the one pictured above, pair well with brown suede chukka boots and twill chinos or moleskin trousers for casual wear? I know the cardigan looks great with the boots and jeans, but I am trying to imagine other possibilities on the casual end of the spectrum. Any suggestions?
Thank you.