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Knitwear & Sweaters

Three ways to wear a rollneck

Three ways to wear a rollneck

Few things in menswear are quite as divisive as the rollneck. For many men, they’re a smart-casual godsend, the perfect way to both stay warm and avoid any worries about whether you’re expected to wear a tie. For others, they mean fisherman or 1970s newsreaders.

To us, this split seems odd. When we think of rollnecks, it’s not Captain Birdseye that springs to mind. Instead, we picture Steve McQueen, Clark Gable and Miles Davis; in other words, men who knew the power of a distinctive wardrobe, and how a bit of extra fabric could turn ordinary knitwear into the embodiment of cool.

“It’s basically a jumper, so you can wear one however you would a jumper,” says Thread stylist Millie Rich. “But it feels and looks different enough to never be boring.” Slip one on and you benefit from a warm neck and a distinctive aesthetic. It’s the easy way to personalise the simplest outfits, from a suit to jeans and trainers.

“That’s what makes them so versatile,” says Millie. They look good dressed up or down, depending on the style of rollneck you plump for: simple, knitted versions can stand in for a shirt; a chunky, ribbed rollneck can be your outer layer, or slot under a jacket if you need some extra protection. “There’s no reason to be intimidated by rollnecks. They look good on anyone and are, frankly, easier to get right than wrong.”

If you’re still not convinced – or are just after some inspiration – then below Millie explores the potential in three very different rollnecks. So however you want to wear one, you can be sure there’s a style to suit.

To brighten up at work

Rollneck for work

Photographed: Oliver Spencer rollneck (sold out – £360 for similar); Norse Projects coat (£470); GANT grey trousers (£175); Base London boots (£79.99)

For work, treat a rollneck like a shirt. “You can wear colours that you know are office-appropriate, like pale pink, but they’ll feel more distinctive,” says Millie. And because the rollneck looks good by itself, you can ditch your suit jacket or blazer and not look half-dressed. “Just make sure your rollneck is made from a natural fabric like lightweight wool or merino. It’s breathable, so you won’t overheat at your desk.”

For a weekend away

Weekend rollneck

Photographed: New Look rollneck (£17); Bleu De Paname coat (£375); Paul Smith trousers (£110)

The first rollnecks were practical, worn by sailors to protect them from squalls. Modern versions in heavier fabrics do the same job, which makes them perfect when you’re out and about. “If you’re not sure what the weather’s going to do, a rollneck is a great choice,” says Millie. “They’re warm and will protect you from the wind, but they also look smart. Which means you can wear a fairly heavy duty coat and still look good.”

The versatile night out

Rollneck for a night out

Photographed: Jigsaw rollneck (£125); Paul Smith jeans (£135); G.H. Bass boots (£180)

Because rollnecks can feel smart and casual at the same time, they’re a good choice if you’re not sure where your night is going to finish. “You’re not too dressed up if you just stay in the pub, but you’ll look put-together if you end up in a nice restaurant or bar,” says Millie. Go for something with a little more heft, so that you’ll be sorted if you end up outside – whether by choice or because your friends can’t figure out where they want to go.