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Replacing shirts with knitwear (+ a layering question)

lockstock

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I do not like wearing button-up shirts as I do not think they look on me, especially when they get wrinkly after a long day, and because I need to go MTM or bespoke to get a good fit for my muscular build. I also prefer more flexible fabrics for better comfort. Yet, at the same time, I like very much the various other pieces of classic menswear - such as the pleated trousers with side adjusters, the odd jackets, the leather shoes - and try to incorporate them in my fits as much as I can.

This is why I have been exploring the idea of just replacing the shirts with suitable knitwear tops:
  • "Sartorial" polos (short- and long-sleeve), e.g.: 1, 2, 3, 4
  • Short-sleeve t-shirts, knitted and from finer fabric
  • Sweaters and cardigans for the colder months
  • Cotton-wool blend shirts, e.g.: 1, 2

  1. Do you think that I can substitute the shirt in a classic-menswear-inspired wardrobe?
  2. Is it a good idea to layer knitwear (at the risk of less contrasting fabric) - such as a polo or a knitted t-shirt under a cardigan?
Many thanks!
 

mak1277

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I’m a big fan of LS polos under sport coats. Definitely an β€œappropriate” classic look.

I don’t like sweaters w/ sport coats without a collared shirt underneath, but that’s a personal thing.
 

TheIronDandy

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Simon Crompton of permanent style wrote something about doing the sweater-polo combo under a sport coat, check out the link. I also quite like the idea of polos under jackets, I would probably not wear a jacket without a collared knit - rollnecks can be an option here if you like that style.
 

Daniel Hakimi

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I don't think the sunspel tee you linked to really does the same thing as the "knit tee shirts" from The Anthology and copies from places like Spier.

But let's focus on knit button ups and knit polos.

It's worth dividing between jersey knits -- the cotton-wool blends you link to look like jersey, which Ring Jacket and some other brands do too -- and thicker sweater-type knits. It's also worth distinguishing between solids and patterns like the fred perry shirt you linked to, or the ones Scott Fraser is famous for (the latter are definitely having a moment, although I have friends who suggest that the trend is past its prime).

It's also worth noting that knit shirts tend to suffer from one major problem -- their collars kind of... suck. There's no way to structrue a collar like that, or to maintain its structure. Especially if you try to machine wash it, the collar might not just flop around, but might actually fold out or do something really unsightly.

When you mentioned "sartorial" polos, my first thought was the ones at Yeossal, which have good, structured collars that can keep their shape under a blazer. Now, if you prefer a flat one, that's totally fine -- you're not going to wear a tie with it anyway. Shoot, I wouldn't mind a camp collar knit shirt. But be careful, because a lot of the ones you linked to make me think, damn, this collar won't last.
 

lockstock

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Thank you all for your advice! It has given me much inspiration.

I’m a big fan of LS polos under sport coats. Definitely an β€œappropriate” classic look.

I don’t like sweaters w/ sport coats without a collared shirt underneath, but that’s a personal thing.

Not wearing something with a collar under a jacket is indeed going to ruin the area around the neck quickly, so a polo in this situation seems necessary, if I want to avoid the shirt. The crew-neck shirts may be best for when I go for something more casual (to match their own casualness) like a safari jacket.

Simon Crompton of permanent style wrote something about doing the sweater-polo combo under a sport coat, check out the link. I also quite like the idea of polos under jackets, I would probably not wear a jacket without a collared knit - rollnecks can be an option here if you like that style.

I have been following Simon Crompton's articles for a while, but had not come across those, and I think the stiff-collar polos he highlights (and whose existence I had not been aware of, so indeed many thanks for pointing me in that direction!) may be what I have been looking for in terms of versatility and style, and perhaps the best type of knitwear in white to wear under a jacket. Turtlenecks, unfortunately, do not work well on me, but a mock neck could be a solid alternative?

I don't think the sunspel tee you linked to really does the same thing as the "knit tee shirts" from The Anthology and copies from places like Spier.

But let's focus on knit button ups and knit polos.

It's worth dividing between jersey knits -- the cotton-wool blends you link to look like jersey, which Ring Jacket and some other brands do too -- and thicker sweater-type knits. It's also worth distinguishing between solids and patterns like the fred perry shirt you linked to, or the ones Scott Fraser is famous for (the latter are definitely having a moment, although I have friends who suggest that the trend is past its prime).

It's also worth noting that knit shirts tend to suffer from one major problem -- their collars kind of... suck. There's no way to structrue a collar like that, or to maintain its structure. Especially if you try to machine wash it, the collar might not just flop around, but might actually fold out or do something really unsightly.

When you mentioned "sartorial" polos, my first thought was the ones at Yeossal, which have good, structured collars that can keep their shape under a blazer. Now, if you prefer a flat one, that's totally fine -- you're not going to wear a tie with it anyway. Shoot, I wouldn't mind a camp collar knit shirt. But be careful, because a lot of the ones you linked to make me think, damn, this collar won't last.

Your point about collars makes me think that indeed structured collars would be my best option and those Yeossal polos look striking. That is unless I experiment with flat polos to determine which ones do not look disheveled after some wear under a jacket. A camp collar knit shirt certainly sounds like something I would put on my list for next summer.

To me it seems like heavier knits are best left for crew-neck sweaters and the various cardigans that I have been wondering how to layer, and for which the stiff-collar polo might be the solution.

The stuff I linked was mostly to illustrate what I had in mind, I would certainly appreciate more brand recommendations for more suitable options, especially ones located in the EU, if you have any in mind? That is, apart from the Fred Perry shirt, which just attracts me in a special and slightly nostalgic way... as I would not usually go for patterned shirts.


PS: I love how this thread covertly becomes a discussion about collars.
 

TheIronDandy

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The stuff I linked was mostly to illustrate what I had in mind, I would certainly appreciate more brand recommendations for more suitable options, especially ones located in the EU, if you have any in mind? That is, apart from the Fred Perry shirt, which just attracts me in a special and slightly nostalgic way... as I would not usually go for patterned shirts.


PS: I love how this thread covertly becomes a discussion about collars.

Not specifically stiff color polos, but general high end knitwear companies operating/selling out of the EU or Europe:

John Smedley (UK)
Johnstons of Elgin (UK)
Private White VC (UK - much of their knitwear is actually made by Johnstons of Elgin)
Luca Faloni (EU - mostly for the cashmere)
Atempo Rubato (EU - they don't manufacture their own things, but their products are usually quite high end)
Sunspel (UK)
 

mak1277

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Sid Mashburn polos have a stiffer collar and work pretty well under a sport coat.

Spier & Mackay have a very rigid collar (for a polo).
 

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