Wearing White

Here at Colhay’s we know the importance of a carefully chosen shade and the big difference a slight tweak in colour can make. For this reason, we carefully choose our colourways with thorough consideration. We purposefully select the shades of our yarns to ensure the resulting knitwear will be easy to style with other popular garments and will also look elegant, without attracting unwanted attention.

We appreciate that most people want to look stylish and well-dressed, but don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons. As such, we've heard a few times in the past that some people are a little wary of wearing white, primarily due to their fear that it might not work well with their complexion.

Pristine whites certainly demand attention and very sterile whites can give off a clinical impression. For these reasons, we avoid the brighter whites that are unflattering, but we don’t shy away from pale shades entirely. Most of our garments are available in paler cream or ecru type shades which we have mindfully chosen to be very wearable and in keeping with our other elegant colourways. Though these paler shades are darker and more versatile, some customers do still approach them with trepidation and are unsure on how to style them or if they’ll be flattering.

We thought it would be a good idea to categorise the white shades in our knitwear range, from lightest to darkest, and to go through some tips on how best to wear and style them.

We hope that this will provide some guidance on the relative lightness of the whites we have and show how lighter coloured knitwear can make you look great even if you have a lighter complexion, as well as how it can easily elevate an outfit.

Cashmere submariner rollneck in ecru


Lightest Shade: "Vintage White"

There is a number of garments that we would regard as belonging to our lightest shade of white. It is most aptly described as vintage white. It is a subtle shade, far from arctic whites that you might find elsewhere, with a muted tone – a slight vintage hue if you will. All items in this colour are very easy to match with ones you might already own.

The garments in this lightest shade of white include the following:

Cashmere Ribbed Submariner Rollneck in Ecru

If you are worried about looking a little washed out with the shade of white, one good tip is to wear it with other items of clothing that are darker, such as the charcoal and grey as shown in the outfits shown immediately below, or with dark brown, as in the example further down with our superfine lambswool shawl coat. It is also helpful to wear another item of clothing that has a busier pattern - like the grey check sport coat below, as it balances out the very plain block colour of the knitwear:  

We find that given its lighter shade, garments in this shade of white work perfectly with light wash jeans and denim jackets:

They also work really well with navy and browns. See below (notice also the outfit on the left illustrates how plain white knitwear goes well with busier patterns on other items of clothing - like the grey check trousers): 

The cashmere ribbed submariner rollneck in ecru is Colhay’s founder Ronnie’s favourite piece. Made from 100% cashmere, it’s soft, warm and luxuriously hefty. With a tall rollneck, it’s not only flattering, but also means you feel enveloped in its softness when wearing it, keeping the neck cosy and warm. For that reason, it is supremely comfortable – something you would cherish wearing all day long. Not only is it comfortable, it is also an elegant and smart piece, which means it’s very versatile too - perfect for relaxing on the weekends or in the office with tailoring.

Superfine Lambswool Cricket Sweater in Cream and Olive, and in Cream, Burgundy and Navy

Our cricket sweater is another piece in this category of white. It is quite a light white with a vintage hue. The cricket sweater goes well with light wash jeans and denim, navy, beige and charcoal:

Given the vintage hue in the white, it pairs well with other whiter colours, such as white trousers or shorts:

Our cricket sweaters are made with superfine lambswool, an elevated, luxury version of ordinary lambswool. To produce a comfortable garment that is soft to the touch, yarns made from fine and long fibres are essential. We used yarns from world renowned producers, Todd and Duncan, who use only the highest quality fibres in their production. To put it into context, the fibres sourced by Todd and Duncan are approximately 42mm in length and 18.5 microns in diameter. Standard lambswool is around 21 - 24 microns, so there is a vast difference. Not only does this difference in fibres result in a softer product but also one that will hold its shape better and last longer too. Durable and remarkably soft, our cricket sweaters are no exception.

Cashmere Shawl Collar Cardigan in Ecru

Another item in the lightest shade of white. It combines very well with charcoal as well as burgundy/wine colours:

Cashmere Painter’s Shawl Collar Cardigan in Ecru

Finally, the cashmere painter’s shawl collar cardigan which is also available in this lightest shade of white. Combines well with charcoal and dark olive. Given the vintage hue, it makes is easier to pair with lighter whites, such as what you would find on a crisp white shirt: 

Medium Shade: "Cream"

This is what we would consider the medium shade of white in our collections. The cream colour in this category is a little different than other traditional cream shades. Here, we’re looking at something a little darker than the vintage whites we’ve already spoken about, with subtle hints of oat. It's a very subdued white that allows people with lighter complexion to wear it easily.

In terms of styling, we recommend pairing this shade with medium wash denim, likely to be one of the most common denim washes found in most wardrobes already.

Medium or dark browns, light or navy blues, and dark greys or charcoal shades also work really well. Being a darker white shade means there is sufficient contrast for it to be worn with white trousers or shorts too.

The garments within this medium shade of white include the following:

Superfine Lambswool Shawl Collar Cardigan in Ecru

Our favourite combination is the superfine lambswool shawl collar cardigan with double denim (jeans and shirt both medium wash). Despite the relatively light complexion on the model, the ecru shawl collar still looks great because this shade of white is in a darker, muted, more subdued shade which doesn't "pop out", making it an elegant companion to denim: 

This shade of white also combines elegantly with light and dark browns:

As well as charcoal and other reddish based colours like merlot:

Our shawl collar cardigan is one of our most popular items. Many of our customers tell us how completely different it is to anything else they’ve seen. This cardigan seeks to strike the delicate balance between luxurious and cosy perfectly.

Made from 6-ply superfine lambswool, you’re protected from the winter chill and supremely comfortable at the same. Knitted by true experts in the Scottish town of Hawick, this piece, and every other from Colhay’s is fully-fashioned. This is a technical term that refers to each component being made individually and hand linked (sewn) together to create a full garment. Today, this process is relatively uncommon and has been rejected in favour of faster production methods. Though it takes much longer, it results in a garment that fits naturally and, with stronger seams, lasts far longer.

Superfine Lambswool Fisherman Cable Rollneck in Ecru

Examples of our fisherman cable rollneck in ecru styled with light wash jeans and navy coat:

Also goes well with olive, as seen in the below combination – the ecru with olive corduroy:

Another of our rollnecks, this piece is inspired by the sweaters worn by fishermen in days gone by. Being out at sea and facing harsh conditions meant durable and warm clothing was essential for these fishermen and so they’d often wear chunky sweaters that had been knitted by their wives. We’ve taken the idea of these classic sweaters and made them relevant for the modern man but retained lots of hints to their origin. For example, ribbed cuffs and a rollneck to keep in warmth and a body that is slightly tighter and fits close to the torso, again to keep the wearer warm. The result is a classic, versatile piece that can be easily styled for casual and formal occasions.

Cashmere Cotton Collegiate Raglan Sweatshirt in Cream

Some examples on how this medium shade of cream works well with other shades of white to create a tonal combination – great for those spring/summer looks:

Cashmere Silk Tennis Polo in Cream

Another example of this cream colour with other items of clothing in white:

Merino Sport Shirt in Cream Mélange

Medium shade of white works well with navy and dark brown – as can be seen in this combination with our merino sport shirt in cream melange, navy shorts and brown leather jacket:

Merino Henley Shirt in Cream Mélange

Medium shade of white with whiter shorts – tonal combination example:

Darkest Shade: "Oatmeal"

This is the darkest of our pale shades. We’d be reluctant to call this one white, as it’s on the darker end of the spectrum and closer to a beige. Having said this, it’s still very much a pale shade and a great choice if you’re worried one of our lighter shades will not compliment your complexion.

In terms of other colours, our oatmeal shade can be worn easily with dark denim, chambray and light blues. It also works with browns or other shades of beige and even white items.

The garments within this darkest shade of white, or "oatmeal" include the following:

Superfine Lambswool Mock Neck in Oatmeal

Sometimes, we find that if you feel a little self-conscious wearing a light shade like oatmeal, it's helpful to consider pairing it with other much darker colours to balance it out, like the outfit below which consists of our superfine lambswool mock neck in oatmeal, with our cashmere shirt cardigan in dark olive and a dark navy blazer and charcoal trousers:


Same principle here - the mock neck in oatmeal acts as an under layer and is balanced out by the darker denim shirt and the much darker navy shawl collar cardigan:

If you prefer a longer rollneck, we also have the cashmere Belmondo rollneck in oatmeal, which as shown in the outfit below, also goes really well with darker colours like dark olive and charcoal. Here the light oatmeal colour is balanced out by the other darker items in the outfit: 

Cashmere Crew Neck in Oatmeal

We then have the cashmere crew neck in oatmeal – a stalwart of a piece in our range. Another tip with wearing lighter colours is to wear something else that is not only much darker but also has a busier pattern - like the outfit below. The cashmere crew neck in oatmeal goes well with the dark brown sport coat with a micro check pattern - the busier, denser pattern provides a nice contrast against the plain oatmeal colour of the crew neck. Paired with dark denim jeans here to show that the oatmeal also works well with dark denim jeans and jackets:  

Also works with navy and olive, the lighter colour of the oatmeal contrasts nicely against the other darker colours of the outfit, and provides a central point that is lighter which elevates the outfit and avoids the whole outfit being a block of dark colour:

Superfine Lambswool Crew Neck in Oatmeal

The same colour and style as above, only this is in a different material – superfine lambswool. The oatmeal colour also goes well with dark tan, navy, white, and preppy striped blue and white:

Also works with light brown check: 

Cashmere Polo Shirt in Oatmeal

To illustrate the same point above, our oatmeal colour works really well with dark denim jeans and brown:

This polo shirt is made from cashmere, which, just like our lambswool, is sourced from spinners Todd and Duncan. Todd and Duncan have been producing yarn for over 150 years and are known in the industry for their superb attention to detail and the resulting quality of their yarns. Cashmere is often referred to as the king of fibres, and once you’ve worn it, you’ll know exactly why. It’s extraordinarily soft alongside being hard-wearing and durable. As with lambswool, the longer and finer the fibres used the softer and stronger the garment. The fibres used to produce the cashmere yarns that we use are 15.5 microns in diameter and 38mm in length. Quite literally, the finest fibres. This, combined with the techniques and expertise of our Scottish knitters results in a garment that can last for decades, even being passed through generations if you choose to.

Superfine Lambswool Tennis Cardigan in Oatmeal

This oatmeal, being a darker “white shade” makes it easier to wear with other whiter items, like a white shirt. In the outfit below, we have it paired with a pristine white shirt and grey trousers to show this:

superfine lambswool in oatmeal

A variation – this time we’ve got white trousers instead of a white shirt, and combined it with our cashmere silk tennis polo in dark brown instead:
cashmere silk tennis polo brown

Pre 1950s, tennis players often wore a cardigan to keep warm before their match and we’ve taken inspiration from these cardigans for this piece. It’s another very versatile garment that’s perfect for layering. For this reason, it’s a great choice for transitional dressing in spring and autumn. It can be worn over simple t-shirts, polo shirts and even button down shirts in the office. When thinking about what to wear over the top, almost anything goes. It combines well with our shawl collar cardigan as well as trenches, sport coats and leather jackets too. A great addition to any wardrobe.


Cashmere Shirt Cardigan in Oatmeal

Finally, we have the cashmere shirt cardigan in oatmeal – goes well with light jeans too as demonstrated below.

Another example of our oatmeal with medium wash denim which also works well:

If you’d like more information on styling our paler items, take a look at our lookbooks and style journals, or get in touch via our contact form and we’d be delighted to help.