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Hey Sid!

Sweaters

Hey Sid!

You ask, Sid answers

Submit a question at heysid@sidmashburn.com

“Crew neck or V-neck or quarter-zip sweaters? Is there a more appropriate environment for each or do you like to stick to one in particular? Also, what are the core colors every guy should have in sweaters?” – Buck P., via email

late summer v-neck c. 1994

You may want a sweater for many reasons, but usually for me it comes down to one of two: either to add an extra style dimension to your wardrobe, or as a layering piece. And a good rule of thumb is no matter the style, the lighter and more refined the knit is, the dressier it tends to be. By this same logic, the heavier and coarser it is, the more casual it leans. So you probably don't want to show up to a fancy dinner with a fisherman's sweater under your blazer, but a fine-gauge cashmere sweater? All day…

In terms of styles, the V-Neck is almost always the first sweater of the season as you move into fall. I think about it almost in place of outerwear — "I'm not going to wear a jacket but I am going to throw a sweater on top of this." I usually like mine on the lighter- to mid-weight side… and because they don't give you coverage from the neck-up, it's great for layering but isn't enough for cold-cold weather. It's an especially great piece for the workplace because it looks more natural with a tie underneath, or even under a jacket, compared to a crewneck. A navy v-neck in particular can almost take the place of a blazer indoors – most of the guys who work here own one, and wear the heck out of it in the colder months. There's a picture of me with a chambray shirt underneath a lovat green v-neck… a combo I love to this day. I can remember wearing that a lot with a waxed cotton jacket on the weekends.

Half-Zip sweaters are a little more au courant… I generally think of it as a modernized, sportier version of the v-neck with a touch of sweatshirt in there. But it can also act as that cold-weather sweater in your closet, because if you need to warm up your neck (or you forgot your scarf), just zip it up -- full coverage. It's really like a more elegant version of a Polarfleece. I like it with a sportier shirt… a blue oxford cloth or a small pattern would look killer underneath this olive green. It can also go dressier with a tie underneath, especially in cashmere. I usually don't wear one underneath a blazer, but plenty of guys who work for us do, and it looks great on them.

The Crewneck is arguably the most traditional of the sweaters and it can go back and forth from being a t-shirt or a sweatshirt or a sweater, depending on the material. Think about it. In cashmere, it can be pretty dressy — and can go equally well with a pair of dress pants or a pair of jeans – but in a cotton or a Shetland wool, it starts to act more like a sweatshirt. Same goes for a bulkier knit like a thermal stitch. And unlike the other two, this style doesn't necessarily need a shirt underneath, especially in a lighter weight. So there's a lot of range… you can wear a cotton-cashmere crewneck with a pair of jeans if you're going to get a pizza or something, but you can dress up a fine-gauge cashmere crewneck with a pair of dress trousers for a dinner party… with or without a crisp white shirt underneath. (Without the shirt, it's a little retro-feeling… kinda Rat Pack.)

And speaking of, I would argue that a fine-gauge cashmere sweater is the greatest travel piece you can have. It stands on its own, but also layers/plays well with others. You can wear it on the plane, you can throw it under a jacket, you can tuck it into a tote bag or carry-on, and — insider tip — if you roll it up and put it in a shoe bag, it makes a great travel pillow. That's why we carry it in over a dozen colors.

Lastly, on that… I lean towards classic and neutral (navy, charcoal, camel) because not only are they going to go with about everything, but more importantly they allow your shirt underneath to add a little lift — think ginghams, checks or even a brightish complementary color. That way it elevates the outfit in a "second look" kind of way, without feeling like you're trying too hard. (That said, I also love bright colors in wintry yarns – brambleberry, rosebud – for a pop.) But the one sneaky all-star color you've got to have is lovat green. It suggests the heather in Scotland, and it's an amalgam of all the foliage pulled together in one color, so you get up close and there are flecks of purple and brown and wheat and yellow and blue and green in there. And somehow it's still a neutral… but a dynamic neutral.

Okay, Buck, I hope that helps. It's 94 degrees as we speak, but sweater weather is coming. I can see it and I can feel it.

From Sid

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