What are the best knitwear colours under tailoring?
This question about knitwear worn on its own (without a shirt) came up twice recently - once in a comment about polo-collared knits (above) and once in a reader question about roll necks. So it feels like it deserves its own post.
Anyone that has worn a roll neck under a jacket in recent winters will know that it's not as easy to match as with a shirt.
There is no colour of knit that is quite as versatile as either a white, or pale-blue shirting. Those two go with almost everything; there is no knitwear equivalent.
Knits come in many useful colours, and navy, grey, cream and brown can all look great in different combinations.
But they all have disadvantages. The key is to consider those disadvantages in turn, and as a result work out which fit your wardrobe best. And perhaps accept that you just need more colours of them than you do of shirts.
In general, knitwear is more versatile if it's more muted. A strong or rich colour is just more likely to clash with the jacket or coat.
And it is particularly useful if it’s pale, given the other clothing is more likely to be dark. That’s one reason a pale-coloured shirt is so much easier to match than a dark one.
For those reasons, cream is a great option. It goes with everything and clashes with nothing (except cream or white trousers).
The disadvantages of cream are that it can be hard to keep clean, and that fine knits (like the one above) can be see-through. The T-shirt or vest underneath is likely to be visible.
Still, I wear mine with a vest, and don’t mind the look. (See here for more on layers under knitwear.)
Heavier roll necks in cream don't have that problem. But, I don't find they suit many guys. They're great in theory, and work well under an overcoat. But on their own they wash out a lot of people.
In general, I find this is less of an issue with heavier, coarser roll necks - the Drake’s rather than the Luca Faloni. So if you wear cream, head towards that end of the spectrum.
Navy is the colour most guys are likely to have. It’s the most common and generally the most versatile knitwear - certainly if you don’t wear dark-indigo jeans much.
And it does go with a lot of things. However, it is not a neutral colour (unlike cream or grey) and is actually fairly rich. As a result, it’s not so good under some other rich colours, like strong greens, or earthy colours like brown and beige.
It doesn’t work, for example, under the brown or green jackets shown below, or as a roll neck under my Ciardi taupe or Liverano brown coats. Neutrals like grey, cream or black are much better there.
You wouldn’t necessarily notice this when wearing navy knitwear with a shirt. But colour has a much greater impact when it’s in a larger block, against the face.
Grey succeeds on many of the criteria mentioned above.
It’s a neutral - in fact, we know from discussing jacket and trouser colours that it’s the most versatile partner for any colour. And there are lots of wearable shades, from pale-grey to charcoal.
The only disadvantage of grey is that you’re more likely to be wearing it elsewhere (at least in a smart wardrobe), given that grey is the most common colour of tailored trouser.
I also find, personally, that lighter greys don’t work that well as roll necks.
They should do, but I find they make the roll neck a little more showy that it has to be - particularly under a jacket. Charcoal is better, and I wear that far more (as you can see here).
Still, grey deserves to be among the top two or three colours of knit, and I’d recommend a mid-grey polo (as above) or charcoal roll neck to most wardrobes.
If navy can sometimes be overrated for knitwear like this, I think dark brown is usually underrated.
If it really is dark and muted, like the one above, then I think it goes with almost anything - from navy to grey to green.
Brown’s only disadvantage is that you’re likely to be wearing brown shoes or accessories as well. But personally I don’t think this is a problem, certainly with the knit tucked under a jacket.
The other issue is that browns are just hard to find. The one above is from John Smedley ('dark cocoa') and I’ve never found one quite like it.
In fact I would have produced a Dartmoor in that colour, if any of the yarn suppliers had a suitable shade in their books. There are twelve shades of grey in Loro Piana Wish merino, but only two of brown.
Green, black and others
Green is a useful colour of knitwear because it's unlikely to be worn anywhere else. That’s the reason it was the second colour of the old Finest Knitwear, and the current Finest Cardigan.
However, it’s not so good as a collared knit or roll neck - against the face, without a shirt collar to help.
Still, it's a nice occasional option, underneath grey or country colours such as warm browns.
Black is very useful, if it’s your style.
It has the advantages of being neutral, dark and unlikely to be worn elsewhere (other than shoes). I picked up a black Billy knit from Berg & Berg recently, and the colour is great.
However, a lot of people don’t wear much black (as discussed), and won’t therefore find it the easiest thing to work into their wardrobe.
There are bright colours like firehouse red, or burnt orange, which are beautiful, particularly in shetland wool. But you wouldn’t call them versatile. And the same goes for colours like beige, brown or camel.
In the end, if you want to wear collared knitwear regularly under a jacket - which can be very nice, very casual chic - then you’ll likely need two or three of these colours, at least.
And even then you’ll probably find there are some jackets, or some outfits, which just don’t work with any of the colours. There is no equivalent of good old sky-blue and white.
By the way, the cream knit pictured above is a sample for a new colour of the Dartmoor. I’m not sure about it, given the transparency mentioned, but if it’s something you would wear, do shout and I'll add it to the decision matrix.
Other clothes pictured:
- With cream Permanent Style 'Dartmoor' knit:
- Eduardo de Simone cashmere jacket
- Whitcomb & Shaftesbury mid-grey flannel trousers
- Frank Clegg tote bag
- With navy Anderson & Sheppard funnel neck:
- Connolly drop-shoulder coat
- Whitcomb & Shaftesbury charcoal flannel trousers
- With grey Permanent Style 'Dartmoor' knit:
- Eduardo de Simone cashmere jacket
- P Johnson cotton trousers
- With brown John Smedley knit:
- Zizolfi tweed jacket,
- Same mid-grey flannels
- Black-suede Belgravia loafers from Edward Green
- With black Anderson & Sheppard funnel neck:
- Permanent Style Bridge Coat
- Lock & Co suede cap
- Dunhill leather bag
Photography: Alex Natt
Thanks Simon. The message that i take away from here is that it’s not easy to pair knitwear with a jacket. Indeed, it seems that it requires a unique combination of knitwear/jacket colours, which are outside of what is usually considered versatile. Great post in that it gets us thinking about these things.
Re. cream colored Dartmoor; ecru/cream knitwear works better in a heavy/textured composition such as lambswool than it does for a smooth fabric like merino, in my opinion. Therefore, i’m not sure about a cream Dartmoor. I think your grey version was a great compromise between a lighter shade that works under a jacket while also being suitable for wear on its own, with the compromise of it not being so good for grey flannel trousers.
Thanks John. Yes I think that’s right. Though I think you’re generally fine with, say, three colours of knitwear and just a little more thought about the whole combination.
It’s the same kind of thought men might put into the jacket, trousers and shoes they might wear together. Rather than the easy of a blue or white shirt.
On cream, I actually find I prefer it in these finer merinos. But that might be personal
Hi Simon, useful guide nicely illustrated.
Why wouldn’t a beige / oatmeal collared knit work (even if less versatile)? Couldn’t it go under darker jackets (dark brown, grey, navy, maybe even very dark olive)?
You’re right Noel, beige would go under a lot of dark jackets.
Being more of a mid-tone, though, it would sometimes struggle with the trousers – as the trousers have to be lighter to have enough contrast with the jacket, but also need to be clearly separated from the knitwear as well. That’s why very dark or very light colours are easier, like cream or dark brown.
Basically, you need three shades that are all clearly different to each other, or knit and jacket that are similarly dark, like navy/navy, or dark brown/dark green, as here.
Good point Simon, I put too much emphasis on the jacket relative to the trousers. Perhaps jeans would work if it’s a casual sports jacket (say brown tweed) or mid grey trousers (flannel) if the jacket is not grey. The fact that it requires careful consideration makes it clear that whilst a beige knit would work with some outfits it wouldn’t be that versatile. I will have to think about how I could use my oatmeal Smedley polo with a jacket (I’m more likely to use it without ).
Yes jeans is certainly an option. Though I’d more usually wear a heavier or chunkier knit with jeans, than a fine merino like here
Very useful article. Please count my vote for a cream Dartmoor!
BTW, which Clegg tote bag is that and on what color? Looks amazing.
Large working tote – see post here (From 10 years ago now!)
Simon: I have noticed you have been wearing your black suede Belgravias more frequently in recent posts. I wonder how versatile you find them? I think I read somewhere on PS that black suede shoes were of very limited use but it seems you are getting a lot out of them. I really like their look but given I don’t often wear black elsewhere, I am not sure if they are right for me. Your advice would be greatly appreciated.
I do wear them a fair bit, yes, but I’d still say they’re not that versatile. They fit in well with the kind of cold-colour wardrobe I’ve discussed recently, and if you start wearing more black, they are a nice alternative to leather.
However, I’d still not put them in the first five shoes you should own. I’d want the same shoe in brown suede before black, and probably black calf leather too.
seeing as you mentioned your “old” finest knitwear , do you have any plans to re-issue your navy crew neck ? failing that do you know anywhere else that sell navy loro piana merino wool crewnecks (except loro piana as I can’t afford their prices) I felt wish wool once and thought it was amazing qulaity
I have been thinking about this recently Ian. We have no plans to make it part of the regular offering again, and the minimums for a run are not small. But at the very least I think we should have a list of interested parties – if only to see how big that list gets. It could become a realistic GMTO.
So please email the Support team ([email protected]) to be put on the list for it. Or I can do so if you prefer – I can see your email on this comment.
As to other places, no I’m afraid I don’t know any. And they are all expensive when there are some. Brioni, for example, offers the same quality of knitwear for three times the price.
thats great thanks , I will email them now hopefully more people will be interested as it is a classic wardrobe staple
For a great example of knitwear (mostly turtlenecks) and sport coats or overcoats I strongly suggest to look at the Jean Manuel Moreau instagram. He does a fine job in to explore all the possible interactions but stays always sharp in the outcome.
I found that a interesting article with useful and illustrative images.
As far as the pairing of navy knitwear with a brown jacket is concerned, I would not count it out without considering closely the colour saturation of a given brown jacket beforehand. In the image you are wearing a less saturated, cooler brown, which does not go particularly well with navy. However, a warmer more saturated brown in a coarser material, such as Harris Tweed, would -and does – work very well with a navy roll-neck, for instance. Although I think that for this to work well, the knitwear would need too be of a fairly soft material like cashmere or, lambs wool. To balance the coarseness of the jacket.
I’m surprised there’s been no mention of burgundy – I have a lovely Shetland crew neck in that colour and it goes nicely under a grey or navy jacket or indeed with most outfits if the other items are fairly neutral
Personally Nick, I’m not that much of a fan of burgundy in knitwear like that – over a blue shirt perhaps, but not in a block on its own
I agree with Nick. Burgundy/maroon works where navy does not with green/brown etc.
Maybe your personal preferences are clouding your judgement?
Charcoal would be my third choice. I agree mid grey is not so successful.
Chunky submariner jumpers in ecru work very well. Aran knits too. I just don’t care for cream colours in lighter knitwear.
Light blue shirts are great, as you point out, but – for whatever reason – light blue does not work in other fabrics.
Presuming you’re talking about knitwear worn on its own (roll neck or collared knit, as shown here) then I personally haven’t found burgundy/maroon to be that useful.
But of course some of this is always personal preference. And I’m talking here only about the most useful, most versatile. There will always be some colour combination like that which will look great, I’m sure.
Yes. Polo necks and long sleeve polo shirts, worn under a jacket.
I can understand not loving burgundy as a single knitwear color block under tailoring, as it’s perhaps a bit showy or unusual. But what about a color like this “merlot”:
It’s darker, grayer, more subdued, and in a thicker submariner knit. To me, something like would be highly elegant and versatile (a good match for navy, gray, and brown jackets). What do you think?
You’re right, that is a much easier to wear shade. I have tried it myself and wouldn’t wear it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for others.
Merlot is an Interesting name for that colour. I imagine red wine, but on my screen it looks like a form of brown.
As for the garment, Todd and Hunter yarn is a big plus. With submariners though I choose wool in Royal Navy pattern. Woolaways In Leicester offer that a very reasonable price and their garment fits well.
What is it about burgundy knitwear that you don’t care for? I gather that you wouldn’t wear a burgundy rollneck or crew on it’s own. What about a burgundy vneck over a shirt?
Yes, I’d certainly wear a burgundy crew or V-neck over a blue shirt and jacket. It’s just harder to wear on its own, as described here.
The fact I don’t wear burgundy so much over a shirt is more a personal preference around colours. I tend to prefer shades of green for instance.
I’ve been thinking about dark green knitwear recently, as I don’t own any. This article has refocused my attention on knitwear which I’ve neglected to a certain extent, very helpful.
Nice to hear Scott
Great article. It can be a challenge! I’ve had success with ecru as a colour under tweed-the contrast is pleasing. I also have a v neck (from a small Shetland collective) in fern which has the depth and texture to look attractive and,as a v , gives you the collar to support.
Cheers Peter. Fern sounds nice.
To be clear though, I’m really talking here about when knitwear is worn on its own – hence talk of roll necks and collared knits. When there’s a shirt there too, everything is a lot easier. Loads of colours work.
I realised that as soon as I pressed send😂Here in the Netherlands, the black roll neck is pretty ubiquitous . If not that, it tends to be white. My friends always comment when I turn up in my shades of brown.
Blimey. Good for you then Peter!
Knitwear: Either under a jacket or on its own, button the top button or not?
That’s a whole separate post I think. That look can be very neat, and smart, but also carries a slight risk of looking affected (or like a football pundit!). For me, it’s not how I wear a collared knit most of the time, but it is a nice option when you want to be a little more dressed up. Also nice for travel etc, given you can easily switch from one to the other.
Oh, and I’d never really do it if I wasn’t wearing a jacket over the top. That can look more odd, and it’s often not that flattering
I’m definitely in the not buttoned up top button camp in polo shirt, jummy, or worst of all formal shirt with no tie! Voila –
Much has been made online of the navy roll neck worn under a brown tweed jacket by Steve McQueen in Bullitt yet it seems a combination you do not favour.
I think that looks good, but it is a very dark navy, almost black
I also quote like navy under brown – as in your own outfit here: https://www.permanentstyle.com/2019/05/re-introducing-the-dartmoor-polo-collar-sweater.html
As long as the navy is nice and dark
Yes exactly. The brown there in particular is very muted and cold in tone. Navy doesn’t look as good under something warmer, like my Harris tweed
So for a navy roll neck to work under a brown jacket, the navy has to be very dark? And is the shade of brown (lighter or darker) important as well?
Would then a dark navy be the most versatile color for roll neck?
It certainly helps if it’s dark, yes. And for a lot of people I think navy will be the most versatile
Great post, and interesting point that it’s easier to pair knitwear over a shirt than as a solid color block on its own. I definitely support a cream Dartmoor. I actually considered purchasing the cream Billy polo from Berg and Berg, but ultimately decided against it because I didn’t think the collar would work well under a jacket. Dartmoor collar solves that problem. I will say I don’t care for the polo buttoned all the way up. You lose the “V” shape formed by the unbuttoned collar that frames the face more attractively. And since it looks odd on its own (as you say), it’s unclear to me why it wouldn’t also look odd under a jacket. Both look odd to me for the same reasons. Finally, when you say lighter gray knitwear can be too showy, do you mean something like Luca Faloni’s Dolomiti Grey roll neck? Because I actually find it extremely versatile.
Yes, I think that grey shade from Faloni is on the border – certainly anything paler than that can look showy. It’s odd, those mid-greys should work really well, but I don’t like them so much. I think it’s because it’s then much more obvious you’re wearing a roll neck under a jacket. Whereas the darker colours sink into the background and just frame your face nicely.
In terms of buttoning up, yes we often wear things that look better under a jacket, and wear them when we don’t necessarily plan to take it off much. Like going out around town for the day, or out to an event. And of course the polo-collar knit has the advantage that you can undo the buttons if you wish.
That ‘V’ shape is nice, yes, like a shirt. But buttoned up, it surrounds the face and can be attractive in the same way a roll neck is.
Personally I would buy a cream Dartmoor, and actually prefer that to grey. I also really like taupe in knitwear, but have a hard time finding much of it. I think the PS shawl-collar sweater (which I have in cream) would also be fantastic in taupe.
Hi Simon, some advice needed. I bought my first chunkier roll neck in November, the Berg & Berg Bernhard Raglan Turtle Neck in Navy. I’ve been wearing it so much over lockdown that I’ve decided I need another and I’m intending to buy the Private White cashmere submariner – but I’m not sure what colour to go with. I know now from experience I would wear the Navy enough to justify owning two, but I’m also contemplating the Ecru. Which do you think would be more useful, a second navy or a first ecru? I hope you don’t mind me attaching the link below for reference.
Hard to say, H. I do find I don’t wear Ecru that much, even though the idea of it is great. I’d wear navy much, much more. But then, it would seem off to have two navy and nothing else.
Simon what name/style do John Smedley use to describe that very nice brown number?
It’s the Dorset – lovely style, only downside being a rather roomy, classic fit
Simon, if you can but the Dartmoor in dark brown would be great. As you point out its very hard to find that colour and would fit with the PS ethos of filling a gap in the market, if you can find a supplier……
great post as usually, even if not all combinations are my favorites.
But the cream PS dartmoore looks fine, but I couldn’t find it in the shop. I guess a lot of readers had the same opinion and it’s already sold out…
No, as mentioned in the post, it’s a sample and I haven’t decided whether to put it into production yet – hence the comments above as well.
Adding my vote for a cream Dartmoor! I think a cream works exceptionally well as a background to blues and blacks. And also want to echo another commenter’s request for a return of the navy crew knitwear. Obliged.
Noted on both, cheers James
Hi Simon, are the dartmoors designed to be worn tucked in or out? Given how you’ve styled them I get the impression they should be in but from the pictures it looks like they’re out.
Always tucked out. You should pretty much never tuck in knitwear – it’s not designed for it, and usually looks too affected
When you say tucked out, is that the same as untucked?
Hello! Not catching any inconsistency or anything, but I stumbled upon your older advice to – tuck the polo in! https://www.permanentstyle.com/2014/06/clothes-for-travel.html
What changed your mind over time, Simon? Danke!
No worries Sigurd!
That’s a regular pique polo shirt rather than a knitted one with ribbing at the bottom. It would look much messier tucked out as a result.
But also, I would be more likely to tuck either in underneath a jacket
Oh I could have sworn that one was knit! Probably due to dark colour.
Right, I think I got it now, your complete advice on the tucking matter, if you don’t mind me trying to sum it: (a) if it has ribbing at the bottom hem, no need to tuck in as it will stay in place and look neat tucked out, and less affected, (b) if no ribbing there is less risk of it looking messy if tucked in, (c) if wearing a tailored jacket advisable to tuck in no matter the ribbing/texture/weave, to look cleaner and more aligned to menswear default (button-down shirt always tucked with jacket). How did I do? 🙂
Yeah, pretty good Sigurd. I’d only add that with a jacket, a ribbed one can be untucked as well, it’s just that it will look less odd under a jacket, so if you like that look, that’s a nice time to do it
I wear navy knits and brown jackets on the regular. I find it a very good pairing in general, brown and navy. But then I’m talking chocolate brown rather than mid brown as your jacket above. Not sure if that would make a difference for you in terms of pairing?
Yes, that would. Bear in mind through all this I’m talking about things being easier or trickier – so cream works with just any shade, whereas with navy you need to be more careful about the shade (of both knit and jacket). I hope that makes sense?
Obviously, this is just knits without a shirt showing too, as mentioned.
Forgot to mention/ask: what do you think about light/sky blue knitted polos for instance, does it work as well as cream? I find most knitted lighter blues tend to be sort of.. electric blue which is harder.
I really don’t mind a cream on cream though, but it’s highly dependent on the shades of cream of the knit and the trousers. A belt underneath that could pop out sometimes would help too.
Yes, polos are tricky. In general, the blue is too strong to work as well as a shirt. If you compare them to shirts, the colour is always stronger.
The one that came closest was the blue we used in the Friday Polos at the beginning of last year. I commented on this issue then. It took an age for them to make a blue pale enough.
Good point on cream.
Do these recommendations apply to casual clothing as well? In this article https://www.permanentstyle.com/2016/05/colour-combinations-from-casual-to-formal.html, you do recommend wearing navy knitwear under a green jacket.
If the color combinations are different for casual clothing, have you written any articles on color combinations pertaining to casual clothing choices?
No, the combinations are pretty similar in formal and informal clothing. The only difference with informal is you can get away with stronger colours, and more contrast or clashing. But this often goes too far, so I’d still recommend staying subtle.
That article references knitwear WITH a shirt underneath. As noted in the comments above, that makes colours much easier to wear. In this article we’re talking about knitwear worn on its own – so it’s a bigger block and worn against the face.
Recently I’ve bought quite a few knits from the korean brand Iolo, and the colors that I’ve started with are cream / beige, black and navy.
I bought the cream, beige and black primarily for under jackets, and the navy as a casual option. I think black is probably in the top three for versatility if you wear colder colored jackets.
I find olive is about the most versatile colour if your wardrobe tends country or casual. Much less useful in a traditional office suit environment, but that’s not really the natural home of turtlenecks or polo collars, either.
Nice point Tony.
In my experience, olive is around as versatile as dark brown, in the same way the two often sit together on that scale with trousers. On balance I prefer dark brown, that’s very personal
I’ve worn knitwear under tailored jackets for many years, so guess I’m a fan! Even on occasion a v-neck or polo under a casual suit.
I thinks it’s an extremely versatile option although I am not as particular on matching- but then I don’t write a fashion blog!
A contrast or tonal works for me (especially shades of grey) which opens up lots of options. I tend to only avoid green ( as I don’t like on me against the skin). or shirt type colours such a light blue or white. Creams are fine , but for me a heavy knit as I really don’t like see-through on anything. I have as many knitwear options as shirts.
I particularly like a mid ribbed roll neck knits under tweed – since I saw on a few blogs.
As for top button on polo necks. Always closed under tailoring. I find when open they make the neckline look fussy and the collars sag. Cotton pique in summer looks ok when open, but that style ( eg Lacoste) tends to have a different collar style. Always open when not with tailoring.
As for navy roll neck under a brown tweed jacket. I think that looks good. Although it may be Steve McQueen makes it look good rather than the other way around!
Long story short – I like knitwear with tailoring.
Perhaps one day you can cover v-necks including sleeveless and knitted waistcoats.
Thanks again always a please to read your articles.
Thanks Stephen. There is this on knitted waistcoats by the way, if you’re interested
Thanks Simon. I forgot about this one on knitted vests. Very good article, I really like all the looks you have put together and didn’t realise there were such differences in the quality of the finishes. I had a couple from Drakes , but the eye tends to drift to the bigger buttons. I’m going to stick with the type you have shown in future. On a side note my wife once chanced upon a merino wool one in an M&S sale! I just had the buttons changed. Sometimes there are bargains!
Yes, the Drake’s ones are chunkier and less smart.
I’m sure the M&S one is great, but of course it’s not anywhere near the same quality as ours, in yarn, knitting or finishing. For context, a cardigan like ours would be sold by a brand such as Brioni for around £500. We sell the very finest, hence the name
For sure. Just a light hearted aside!
Understood and appreciated! Cheers Stephen
I look forward to a cream Dartmoor.
What would be your suggestions about crewneck sweaters, in terms of color and gauge, both under a jacket or without tailoring?
For crewnecks, it will likely be navy and grey, but see the capsule collections here for discussion on those. The colours depend mostly on how much you wear grey flannels or dark jeans.
You’ll likely want a 2-ply cashmere or similar, to sit nicely under a jacket.
I would posit mid- to light blue as a versatile hue under tailoring. Accompanies brown, lighter greys, navy, etc. Also creates less of a sharp contrast if you have extra pale skin and the absence of a summer tan given that most knitwear will be worn in the cold season.. Lastly, it complements brown hair nicely.
What are your thoughts on mélange, marled, or heathered fabric for knitwear? I am seeing more and more of it in higher quality jumpers. Navy and Black are usually solid but most lighter colors, particularly greys, have some amount of white woven into the fabric. I have always thought it looked like gym wear for running or something, but perhaps I am being to narrow in my thinking?
I’d have to see an example I think Steve, but my general thought is that if it’s tonal, that’s fine. Greys are pretty much always mixes of shades anyway. If you get to the point of being a donegal look, then that’s different, but nothing wrong with a bit.
However, I don’t think it usually looks good to have multiple colours in something – eg a green with reds and browns in there, like you’d have in a tweed jacket. It’s a nice idea, but it really undermines what makes the sweater elegant in the first place. And it’s less versatile.
Hi Simon – a definite yes for the Dartmoor in cream!
And to another reader’s earlier point – whilst the colour is somewhat subjective, I did recently buy the PWVC submariner roll neck in ecru and it’s really very nice indeed. Works nice under the PS brown donegal, too.
Great Read Simon. So for cream roll necks to wear under tweed, are you suggesting chunky or more refined? Let’s say under your M&E Prologue jacket for example.
Chunkier probably – as chunky as you can get yet still fit comfortably
Any current makers you could recommend? Thanks!
The Private White cashmere is lovely
Any thoughts on the Heimat U-boat? Seems to have a nice cream color.
I find the Heimat knitwear too rough, personally.
Thoughts on the Timothy Everest rollneck in ivory?
I haven’t tried it myself, sorry
I would buy the cream Dartmoor.
It’s interesting how much useful debate and exchange of advise / input was generated by this post. Suggests knitwear under tailoring is very popular. Hopefully you find it encouraging that readers are so interested to engage. Also thanks to you for taking the time to engage with them.
All the best.
Absolutely. I think a lot of guys are looking for ways to wear their lovely tailoring in more casual forms – there will be far fewer shirt and tie combinations going forward. So it’s great to help out a bit
Love my name dartmoor, and a cream version would compliment it perfectly. Definitely would pick one up.
Good to know. Cheers James
Simon, any advice on how to style this blue Luca Faloni silk-cashmere polo with tailoring:
I find it difficult to do so since the color is strong and it has a bit of sheen to it due to the silk. I’d appreciate any advice on this.
Yes, not an easy one. I don’t have that colour myself, but I would suggest navy first, and then perhaps something with some vibrancy like the polo, eg a forest green?
Those polos aren’t really designed to go under tailoring, given the lower collar.
Simon – in the ‘navy’ section you list jacket colours it doesn’t go with, but what would you say it does go with?
Personally I have difficulty with navy under a jacket because it is likely to be darker than the jacket itself. I wouldn’t wear a navy shirt for the same reason.
Yes, it’s not easy.
Navy knitwear worn on its own always looks great with navy, and it can also work well with other colours – those colours just have to be particular shades, usually colder and more muted. See it with my brown Rubinacci here for example. As you said it also helps when the jacket is darker, eg charcoal can work.
If you had to choose one, would you prefer a mid grey or charcoal rollneck Simon? What jacket would you wear it with?
Also: black rollneck or black mock neck sweater? Merci!
Charcoal probably, for the reasons mentioned above. I’d wear it with darker jackets, like navy, dark browns and dark greens.
I don’t like mock necks that much – see post here on that.
Do you think a mid grey rollneck is generally too showy?
It depends by what you mean by ‘too’ obviously, but yes I’m surprised by how showy I find a mid-grey roll neck is under tailoring. Obviously something like cream, or a strong colour, would be more showy, but knitwear usually looks elegant under a jacket when it fades into the background more, and mid-grey doesn’t do that.
I’d agree, a mid grey turtleneck is quite noticeable under a jacket.
Do you mid grey is ok to wear and not showy when worn by itself (i.e. no jacket) with trousers?
And how do you feel about colors like navy and dark green turtlenecks when worn by itself w/ trousers?
Do you think charcoal is the only color turtleneck that is not too showy under a jacket? Sorry, many questions and very curious about how these colors work.
Yes I agree, mid-grey is easier worn on its own. Particularly when it’s a heavier, chunkier piece – more obviously something to be worn on its own. That goes for cream too, as mentioned.
Navy is great on its own. Green is OK, but I don’t like it as much.
And no, I think neither charcoal nor navy are too showy under a jacket.
How do you balance a high contrast ensemble without being too showy? I find that high contrast outfits work for my dark hair and olive skin, but sometimes worry about the contrast looking too showy
It’s very hard to say without specific examples. But if the clothes themselves aren’t that showy, it helps a lot. Eg fewer bright colours or patterns, no showy styles, or more matte textures
Simon, I’m considering John Smedley’s Cotswold to wear as a Dartmoor-like piece under tailoring:
Do you have any experience with this piece? Do you know if the collar stands up well under tailoring? Thanks for any guidance. I really love the merino polo as an alternative to shirting under tailoring and have enjoyed my Dartmoor for that reason.
Thanks, good to know.
I have tried the style, and it’s a small collar without the same reinforcement. So no, it won’t really stand up.
Got it, thanks. So, if one wants a Smedley piece with a stand-up collar, is it Dorset or bust?
Yes, unfortunately. Even then, it’s not as good as the Dartmoor give that that was specifically designed to improve that area
Understood. Well, bring on the cream Dartmoor, then! 🙂
May I add that from my experience Cotswold holds fairly well under a jacket collar, as long as the jacket is not very stiff. I’ve worn it in wool/cotton and wool varieties under a few summer jackets and had no issues. Foreseeing it will be similar in the winter, but will update. The collars are smaller than on Dorset, Isis (short-sleeve), and Dartmoor, true, but still worked fine for me. Smedley offer easy and cheap returns, so might be worth trying. The dark brown colour they offer (dark cocoa) is indeed the darkest I’ve seen.
I don’t understand why you say here that beige knitwear isn’t versatile under tailoring. It seems highly useful to me. It works with grey trousers and the most common jacket colors, i.e. navy and mid/dark brown. Indeed, given its neutrality I’m hard-pressed to think of a jacket it wouldn’t work with other than beige itself. And I don’t see why beige wouldn’t work as a solid block next to the face, like you acknowledge grey and cream do. Beige seems of a piece with those other neutral, colder, subtler tones. Thanks for any clarification here.
It certainly works with lots of jacket colours, and is great under a shirt with tailoring. But on its own, against the face – which is what we’re discussing here – it nearly always washes out the wearer. It suits very few skin types. Grey and cream have that issue less
Thanks, that’s helpful. I assume you mean it’s great *over a shirt with tailoring.
Hi Simon, what are some versatile colours (other than navy) for crewneck knitwear to wear over a shirt, grey/navy dress trousers, and calf leather loafers? Thanks.
If you’re wearing it over a shirt, then loads of colours work well.
– Navy is usually the most usual and smart
– Then grey is great
– Next I like dark green, as here
– Next I’d say cream or oatmeal, depending on how smart you want to be
– That’s all the bases. Then you could do something fun and bright, like a burnt orange, or black or charcoal for more chic, or burgundy or purple for a more country feel
Thanks Simon. Would darker or lighter grey knitwear be more versatile?
Both are useful, but generally a mid-grey goes with more things
Hi Simon, what do you think of Trunk Clothiers’ dark olive Shetland sweater? Is the colour a versatile green?
Yes, it’s nice and muted. Very versatile
Hi Simon, a few more questions on this topic:
1. You note that navy knitwear wouldn’t work well under your muted brown herringbone jacket. Why not? True, the navy is rich and non-neutral. But the brown on that herringbone jacket is quite muted, a little cold, so I’d think navy would work well beneath it.
2. What do you think of short-sleeved knits under tailoring as opposed to long sleeve? I understand it’s less formal and you lose the ability to show some knit sleeve under the jacket sleeve, which is a nice aesthetic touch. On the other hand, it’s more comfortable in the warmer months. Do you think wearing a short-sleeve knitted polo (for example, this: https://colhays.com/collections/ss21-collection-vintage-british-sportswear/products/cashmere-silk-tennis-polo-in-cream) is still an elegant alternative to a dress shirt? Or do you think all elegance is lost with the short sleeves to the point that it’s no longer worth pairing with tailoring? Thanks!
1. Perhaps the brown is warmer in tone that the images suggest. Certainly navy wouldn’t look bad, but it doesn’t work as well as neutrals like charcoal, grey and cream.
2. I think some elegance is lost in the lack of long sleeves, yes. I would do it, but mostly when heat was a real concern. Also, those Colhays ones are lovely, but the collar isn’t really designed to go under tailoring.
Hi Simon, how versatile do you think Trunk’s brown shetland knit is? Can it be worn with navy and grey wool trousers?
I don’t have it, so harder to tell, but yes I think so
Hi, what do you think of crewneck with no shirt + tailored jacket combination?
Interesting question Nick, as actually I have a post coming up on this next week. Let me know what you think of my points then…
I’m also interested in this. As I see it, the casualization of officewear and the ambiguity of “business casual” has many, myself included, searching for dress-shirt alternatives. As A&S’s Audie Charles astutely observed in your video with her, reaching for a dress shirt every day feels dull, reflexive, lifeless. Knitwear makes for an interesting and elegant alternative, including pieces like your Dartmoor, sleeveless cardigans, and roll necks. But I draw the line at knitwear without a collar worn under tailoring. To me, wearing a crewneck under a jacket with no shirt looks too much like a concerted effort to “be different” and sacrifices too much elegance. One possible solution is tucking something like a square scarf or bandana into the crewneck to cover the neck, thereby substituting for the shirt collar and restoring elegance while maintaining interest.
Hi Simon – any further thoughts/plans on the cream Dartmoor? Definitely a decent few yes votes in the comments!
Yes Ant, it’s being made and should be here within the next month
Excellent! Will email support now to get on the list 🙂
Hi Simon, just a short feedback: I ordered the Dartmoor sweater in cream and now that it arrived today I have to say it’s by far the nicest piece of fine knitwear I ever laid my hands on. I expected a lot and it still exceeded my expectations! Super nice make, perfect shade of cream and spot on fit (I ordered size L, I‘m 184cm, 80kg with 105cm chest). Thank you for putting all the effort into the development of these pieces and make them available at a fair price. And I can’t believe I’m saying this but now I can’t wait for the weather to cool down so I have a chance to wear it. Thanks again, chapeau and all the best from Munich!
Amazing, thanks so much Benedikt. Feedback like that makes the world of difference. It’s so nice to know the quality and the value of the products is appreciated
I’m certain that you will have seen Colhay’s dark brown this season, and to my eye (maybe you can confirm this) it fits into that difficult to find category of dark, cold, slightly bitter and hard to find shades of dark brown knitwear.
I have my eye on one of the Cashmere polo’s. Seems like a handy option for me, for dinner outings etc. when I’m inclined to dress up the neck a little, without wearing a shirt. Along with dark denim and the upcoming Donegal raglan springs to mind as a nice combination?
I’m wondering, you mentioned this shade would work under navy. I plan to have my first jacket made at some point next year, Navy/grey herringbone (Moon’s, same bunch as your navy Solito). Trying to be economical and forward thinking, do you think this would work? eg. Grey flannels, dark brown polo, navy/grey herringbone jacket?
Absolutely, I’ve got my eye on that exact polo. And it would look great in that combination.
On wearing under navy, yes that combination would be great too. The only thing is the collar on the Colhay’s isn’t the best under a jacket. It can get swallowed rather – a taller one, like we do on our Dartmoor, is better. But then we don’t do that colour or material.
Wicked, thanks Simon.
Appreciate the pointers as ever. I had a feeling you might say that regarding the jacket. To be honest, even if it only served as a denim/flannels + knitwear + raglan combination, it would serve well. A nice alternative to a crew neck? As much as I love my crew necks, you do miss that nice elongated v that an open shirt collar provides, I know for certain I’ve heard you mention this before!
I think I am going to reserve the position of polo under jacket for the Dartmoor, either grey or cream would be great for the combinations I have in mind.
Yes, I’ve said before that a lot of guys don’t suit just a crewneck, without a shirt collar above it. A collar is more flattering on most guys – frames the face more, gives that V-line down the chest as well. And of course, the crewneck height itself makes a difference, where a polo is more forgiving
Simon, what do you think about the new Colhay’s “shirt-cardigans?” I’m not sure how I feel about them. I’m intrigued by them as an alternative to a shirt under tailoring (though I recognize the collar isn’t the firmest). I think they might be more flattering than the polo, since the buttoning is a bit further down the chest (similarly, I tend to prefer polos with deeper plackets–the PS Friday polo does a great job in that respect, the Colhay’s cashmere polo less so). Indeed, the positioning of the crucial second button seems to be pretty much perfect. Still, I worry that perhaps the shirt-cardigan is trying to do too many things at once without doing any one of them especially well–if you want a cardigan, better to use a regular or shawl cardigan; if you want a knitwear alternative to a shirt, use a knitted polo, roll neck, or mock neck; etc. I’d welcome your thoughts on this unique style of knitwear. Thanks, as always!
I haven’t tried one yet in my size, but my instincts are similar to yours. My concern is that I would prefer a polo in that role under a jacket, it’s too heavy for a shirt and potentially too light for a cardigan. I think I might use it in the latter way, though, as a cardigan over a T-shirt or shirt. That’s what I’m hoping.
I had the same issue with the Stoffa one in this style, but that cashmere was lighter and too much towards a shirt for me
If we were moving the conversation to the best knitwear colours for not wearing under tailoring, but instead within a casual wardrobe, what would your recommendations be? Do you think you would still have the first recommendations as cream, navy, and grey? I’ve already got a navy sweater and was trying to decide between a grey and a cream for my second sweater. What would you recommend as the second one?
Note: I’m looking primary at chunkier/thicker versions of crewneck merino wool sweaters if that helps you with making suggestions.
If that’s what you already have, then I’d definitely go with grey.
Also see the casual capsule here for more comments on those choices. Plus the complete capsule here
Do these color recommendations still hold if we’re talking about knitwear not worn under tailoring?
Not necessarily, no. Perhaps I should do a separate piece on that, as part of the Wardrobe Building series
What are your thoughts for this twist on the cream as a standard: a butter yellow (very soft, close to PS OCBD)? It’s close to cream, but a tad more interesting and less see-through? Goes with fewer jackets, yes, but perhaps a nice 3rd one?
Also, a good neutral one in the neighbourhood of grey could perhaps be a taupe, like a greyish mid-brown? I think it could pair with most things, including browns and could do a nice tonal look too. What do you think?
I can’t quite envision the first one Vincenzo, but the latter would be nice. I just think with some skin types it might wash them out a bit, and as a result might look better with a white T-shirt showing underneath
Simon, thank you! That yellow is a colour I like a lot but difficult to explain.
There is a shade in Lacoste polos: https://img.fidcdn.net/r17/product/lacoste-regular-fit-poloshirt-aus-reiner-baumwolle-gelb_1015895,8d5e9d,450×600.webp.
This is roughly similar, perhaps a little brighter:
Ah, I see. Yes that could be nice as a slightly more unusual, more casual option
What is your opinion on ‘light and blue pique cotton polo’ being offered by high street shops like M&S and Gap. Can they be versatile and worn on its own or does that also come under the purview of this knitted wear topic?
Do you mean just in terms of the colour Ayush?
Just in terms of color, would white long sleeve cotton pique polo look good?
Also would white long sleeve polo be a little showy if worn on its own without a jacket?
Yes to the first, no to the second. Have you seen the white Friday Polo? Have a search for it and you’ll see how it can be worn well
hi simon can i ask if polo knits (isis) by john smedley can be altered? (body/arm length shorter). I love the collar of the isis but pictures of models/anyone really wearing them look terrible with the body being too long and the sleeves hitting the elbow and somehow making anyone wearing them look terrible (body long and straight with stick thin arms). Im wondering also if that was your experience trying on the isis
I’m afraid they can’t really Shem, that’s the problem with knitwear. You need someone that makes knitwear, with a fashioning machine, to alter them.
I haven’t worn an Isis in a while, but the body is fairly standard for mainstream I think, though the sleeve is fairly long in the classic manner
You seem to wearing these merino wool jumpers directly next to skin?
They’re certainly fine enough that you could. But no, I tend to wear a vest or undershirt underneath them
Simon, I have The Finest Polo in all colours but I (strongly encouraged by my wife) have concluded that the cream is unwearable except under a buttoned jacket or overshirt because it is somewhat transparent. Please pardon me if these questions have been asked and answered before, but do you wear a vest under it? And do you (or perhaps does a kind reader) know who makes a deep v vest (or a deep v undershirt with very short arms) that might make the cream Finest Polo wearable for me?
Not at all, no problem asking. I don’t wear a vest under it, and don’t find it too transparent. But there’s certainly an amount of personal taste here, as well as physical differences.
I wear vests and T-shirts with deep V-necks from Sunspel. I’d suggest that as the first place to look.
I have two low-to-mid-weight rollnecks, one black and one charcoal that I wear under tailoring. I’ve been thinking of buying a third in another colour but based on this guide no other colour would work. I have brown and olive tweed jackets so that means no navy as I could only wear them with navy or oatmeal jackets. Which third colour would you choose? Or should I just stick to these two?
If you wear them a lot Noel, then I guess a third would be good. I’d suggest mid-grey maybe, or cream. I suspect the other two you have will be easier to match, and as you know I personally prefer darker colours under tailoring, but those might be nice. Particularly grey under a similar grey
How do you wear your black Billy (or equivalent) knit with tailoring? Would you wear a navy jacket? Or your brown tweed one?
Regarding navy knits (for example your Dartmoor knit), besides navy on navy and your cold brown jacket what other colour jackets would yo wear with it?
I wear the black under dark brown tweed, yes, and under greys sometimes as well as under dark olive.
Navy is surprisingly tricky, and is mostly under navy and dark cold brown as you say. And navy suits, as here
Of course, I also wear them under coats and casual things like bombers, eg here
Hi Simon, would you also suggest avoiding wearing navy knit under dark brown or green overshirt? For instance, PS finest crewneck in navy with PS overshirt in dark brown?
That can be nice Jack, I think because both colours are so dark
Sorry but would you mind explaining when the navy knit would not be ideal to wear with brown or green? Does it only apply to tailoring? It seems like I haven’t understood…
Navy can still work well, and does with many colours, but I wanted to make the point that it is not quite as versatile as people think, as if you wear a navy that isn’t that dark, with a strong green or a fairly warm brown, they don’t make a good combination. Neutrals like grey and cream are easier. However, a lot depends on the different shades – a colder, darker brown or green works better, and a darker navy is better too.
Sorry, it’s hard to write something simple when so much depends on the shades. I do think, as with many things on here, that you have to bear these points in mind and then make your own judgement based on what you see with your own clothes
Hi Simon, I’ve been finding myself wearing knitted polos a lot to work these days, for all of the reasons you have mentioned in your previous articles. I have two from The Armoury, one in navy and one in beige, and was thinking of branching out into some other colours, but I have a few questions:
Will you be re-stocking the Dartmoor in cream? While I like the beige colour I have, I don’t think it’s quite as versatile as cream (at least under tailoring).If it’s not being restocked anytime soon, the other option is to purchase one in olive green (which looks surprisingly versatile, yet uncommon), and purchase the Friday polo in white, but it’s sold out in a small. Will this be re-stocked anytime soon?I noticed that your Friday polos are all button-downs now. Is there a reason for this? Do you find yourself only wearing button-down polos over spread collars?
Cheers and looking forward to more articles about your Japan trip, it looked incredible!
The Dartmoor won’t be coming back in cream for a good while, but the olive is great, really useful.
Friday Polos are coming back, and will actually be tweaked, including a normal.point collar rather than the button down. That won’t be for 2-3 months though.
Any more questions let me know, and thanks on the trip!
Thanks for the reply, Simon, much appreciated! Olive it is.
I just realised my numbering didn’t come through, so my message looked like the ramblings of a lunatic, my apologies. As such, you may not have seen one of my questions – do you find yourself preferring the normal spread/point collars or the button down with polo shirts?
I like both with polos to be honest – the button downs feel a bit more preppy and sporty, the point collars a little more normal, perhaps a little more military. Spreads are a little dressier.