With men's wardrobes becoming increasingly casual in recent years, knitwear is primed to become the go-to choice over the more traditional shirt and tie in an outfit. In this article, we have a few tips on how best to match up your knitwear with other pieces of outerwear commonly found in your wardrobe such as tailoring, coats and jackets.
Tip 1 (look at texture): outerwear made in a fine cloth (e.g. worsted suit) look better with finer plain stitch knitwear or knitwear with flat, smart patterns, whereas outerwear made with a rugged cloth (e.g. woollens, denim and leather) work well paired with both finer knitwear and chunkier/rugged knitwear.
Broadly speaking, outerwear can be divided into two categories, fine and rugged cloths. Fine cloths are more formal looking cloths such as what you see on worsted suits – the traditional suit for the office, for example. Rugged cloths encompass everything else that have a more casual texture such as woollen cloths like flannels, tweeds, melton wool (the thick fabric you see on pea coats), as well as cottons, corduroy, denim, leather.
Fine cloth with fine knitwear
Here are some examples of the first permutation - fine cloth with fine knitwear. The reason they go well with each other may have something to do with the fact that we are used to seeing a dress shirt (a finely textured garment) with formal worsted suits, so when the dress shirt is swapped out for knitwear, we expect to see knitwear that is "smarter" or finer that most closely resemble a dress shirt. If you wear it with chunky knits - it would seem slightly odd.
Formal charcoal suit with cashmere Belmondo rollneck in black
Because the rollneck is in a plain stitch, it looks more formal, and therefore pairs well with a formal fabric like the worsted suit here.
Check blue blazer with superfine lambswool mock neck in navy
The mock neck here is made in a 1-ply superfine lambswool yarn knitted in plain stitch, which again, makes it a finer piece of knitwear, allowing it to pair well with a jacket made in an equally fine or “smart” cloth.
Brown check blazer with cashmere shirt cardigan in oatmeal
Another example of a fine cloth paired with plain stitch knitwear. The two formal textures sitting naturally alongside each other.
Rugged cloth with fine knitwear
Here are some examples of the second permutation - rugged cloth with fine knitwear. This works well too because knitwear, even if fine, inherently has a more casual and woolly look to it that lends well generally to rugged textures.
Navy flannel blazer with cashmere shirt cardigan in dark olive and superfine lambswool mock neck in oatmeal
The navy blazer featured here is made in a thick, heavy flannel with a woolly surface. Despite this, it works well with plain stitch knitwear such as the cashmere shirt cardigan in dark olive and superfine lambswool mock neck in oatmeal worn here as the knits also have a woolly texture.
Black corduroy blazer with cashmere Belmondo rollneck in wine
Another example of a rugged cloth with fine knitwear - the black corduroy here is texturally pronounced and has a casual look. It goes well with the plain stitch rollneck in wine here because the cashmere on the rollneck itself has a slight fluffy texture that works well together with the corduroy. If you'd swapped the black corduroy out and wore a smarter cloth instead - that would also work - fine cloth with fine knitwear.
Rugged cloth with chunky knitwear
Here are some examples of the third permutation - rugged cloth with chunky knitwear. This is the area we like to put together combinations most and demonstrates the versatility of knitwear. Outerwear made with rugged cloths encompasses a much broader range of clothing than outerwear made with fine cloths (generally confined to suits), which allows for a lot more opportunity for them to be paired with knitwear.
Black corduroy blazer with cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in navy
The black corduroy is a chunky, hefty cloth with a lot of texture, and pairs well with our cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in navy which is also chunky and textured.
Black leather biker with cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in navy
Swapping out the corduroy blazer and replacing it with a heavy black leather biker - rugged outerwear with chunky knitwear.
Black and white check tweed sport coat with cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in navy
Going back to a smarter outfit - featured here is a tweed sport coat with the cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in navy. Rugged cloth with chunky knitwear.
Brown leather jacket with cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in camel
The distressed nature of the vintage leather bomber lends itself to chunky textured knitwear such as our cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in camel.
The other aspect to look out for when deciding how to combine outerwear with knitwear is weight. Lighter weight outerwear such as linens and light weight cottons tend to go well with lighter weight knitwear such as cashmere silk polos, extrafine merino etc. This also makes sense when you are dressing for the season, lighter weight clothing naturally being more appropriate for warmer seasons. Whereas heavier weight outerwear can go with both light and heavy weight knitwear.
Light weight outerwear with light weight knits
Here are some examples of light weight outerwear with light weight knits:
Olive linen blazer with cashmere cotton collegiate sweatshirt in olive
The olive linen jacket is a light weight cloth, so is best suited to a piece of knitwear designed for spring/summer such as our cashmere cotton collegiate sweatshirt.
Navy blazer in a light weight worsted cloth with extrafine merino sport shirt in olive - light outerwear with light weight summery knitted fabric
Green cotton blazer with cashmere silk tennis polo in cream
Light weight cotton with cashmere silk - one of our lighter weight pieces that is ideal for warmer weather
Heavy weight outerwear with light weight or chunky knit
Here are some examples of how heavy weight knits work well with both light weight and chunky knitwear:
Black leather jacket with cashmere polo shirt in navy
For those autumn/winter days when you have to make your way into work in the cold but will be in a fairly warm room the rest of the day, this heavy weight outerwear + mid weight knit is the perfect combination.
Black leather jacket with superfine lambswool cricket sweater
Swapping out the cashmere polo shirt, you can see here that the heavy weight black leather jacket would also work well with more chunky knitwear, such as our cable knit cricket sweater.
Denim jacket with cashmere Belmondo Rollneck in wine
Another example of how a heavier weight jacket can go well with plain stitch or lighter weight knitwear.
Denim jacket with cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in ecru
Equally, a denim jacket works well with a chunkier textured knit, as can be seen with our cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in ecru.
Tweed sport coat in brown check with cashmere Belmondo rollneck in brown
The tweed fabric being a heavy weight fabric, works well with the rollneck even though the rollneck is not the chunkiest - the woolly texture of the cashmere rollneck complementing the woolly texture of the tweed sport coat. We've accompanied the outfit with a cashmere scarf in oatmeal
Tweed sport coat in brown check with cashmere painter's shawl collar cardigan in dark brown
And a variation of the outfit above - here we have swapped out the rollneck and replaced it with a chunkier piece of knitwear - our cashmere painter's shawl collar cardigan, to illustrate that heavy weight outerwear also goes well with heavier weight, chunky knitwear
Tip 3 (look at colours): for menswear, outfits tend to fall into two categories – a cream/beige/brown colour palette or black/navy colour palette so for our knitwear, it is about identifying which palette that piece of knitwear sits with.
Cream/beige/brown colour palette:
Black/navy colour palette:
The nice thing about ecru is that it tends to work with both colour palettes, as illustrated by our superfine lambswool shawl collar cardigan in ecru:
Black/navy colour palette:
Superfine lambswool shawl collar cardigan in ecru, dark charcoal trousers, black/white sport coat, blue/white stripe shirt
Other examples where ecru works within both a beige/brown and navy/black palette - on the left is our cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in ecru worn with brown tweed jacket (brown palette) and on the right, superfine lambswool fisherman cable rollneck in ecru with navy melton pea coat (black/navy palette)
Other examples of beige/brown colour palette outfits:
Superfine lambswool fisherman cable rollneck in tobacco brown, brown check sport coat, white trousers
Superfine lambswool shawl coat in navy, blue/black check sport coat, denim shirt, light wash blue jeans
Superfine lambswool shawl collar cardigan in navy, black/white check flannel sport coat, white shirt
Superfine lambswool tennis cardigan in navy, chambray shirt, black and white check tweed sport coat, cream trousers
Some colours are a little more difficult to identify what palette it sits best in, such as dark olive and burgundy. We’ve found they both sit nicely with a black/navy palette:
Superfine lambswool fisherman cable rollneck in olive with navy blazer and grey flannels
Cashmere cotton Breton stripe in olive/navy with navy blazer and cream trousers
Cashmere Belmondo rollneck in wine, navy blazer, dark wash jeans