Last week I encouraged you to start planning for the much maligned and often misunderstood transitional period: that moment in time when summer hasn’t finished but pretty much all retailers have decided that it has.

Retail wise, this is a tricky time of year – sales are all but done and stock levels are getting low. New stock is beginning to flood into store but most shoppers are still looking for bargains. However, rather than sifting through the dregs left behind by others, what any sartorially-inclined man worth his salt should be doing is looking toward the next season. He should be planning his future wardrobe and preparing for that sudden drop in temperature that so often catches others off guard.

Lightweight knitwear will play a key role in many of your wardrobes in the very near future. It will become your go-to for layering and covering up during those chilly evenings, and it will also begin to define your style and continue to keep you warm as we head closer to Christmas.

A Lightweight Touch

I’m sure that most, if not all, of us are well acquainted with lightweight knitwear: crew necks, v-necks, cardigans, roll necks etc. I’m equally sure that most of us have a least one or two pieces in our wardrobes already. Being such basic items, you might think it’s a fairly easy thing to wear.

You would be right – it’s extremely easy to just layer a crew neck merino jumper over your tee or shirt and walk out the door, but doing that can often be a little ‘safe’. Whilst there is and always will be a place for dressing down and dressing well, we should be utilising this time to experiment and push our personal style forward.

Wearing your lightweight knitwear in a slightly different way is an easy and effective way of giving your existing looks a shot of individuality. It shows that you’ve considered more than just the clothes you have pulled on – you’ve thought about HOW you are wearing them. The unexpected is often what sticks in the mind and lightweight knitwear can definitely be used to make a similar impression on those around you.

Lightweight Knitwear Tips

But first, a couple of tips on what you should be considering when looking to add lightweight knitwear to your wardrobe:

  • Fit – we all know this one, it’s a basic requirement of good dressing, but we’ll keep repeating it until everyone listens. Or at least until Matt Allinson forms the ‘Fit Police’ and deals out some rough justice to those with blatant disregard for this most crucial of matters.

    If you’re going to be predominantly wearing your jumper on its own, opt for slimmer fitting pieces – you don’t have a bottom layer to cover up so you can afford to go a bit tighter. This will naturally be a very streamline look, so excess material is a big no-no.

    If you’re wearing a jumper or cardigan over a shirt, give yourself a bit more room – any bunching under the jumper will ruin your outfit’s clean lines and just looks sloppy.

  • Quality – we say this an awful lot, but quality does make a difference. Natural fibres will keep their shape better and be warmer. Of course, not everyone can afford to buy high-end items, but if you search hard enough on the high street and pay attention to the labels you’ll be surprised at what you can pick up.

    For example, UNIQLO’s range of extra fine merino and cashmere knitwear is excellent, and a hallmark of their collections each autumn/winter.

Key Style: Bold Colour Jumpers

A bold coloured jumper worn on its own will forever be a great look – crew or v-neck, it doesn’t really matter. Combine one with some casual tailored trousers and a pair of desert boots for a solid, relaxed outfit with plenty of structure and forward thinking fashion elements.

If you want to take the aesthetic to the next level or truly separate yourself from the crowd, create a stronger divide between the jumper and the trousers by tucking in the jumper or wearing a statement belt in a complementary/contrasting colour (just bear in mind your body shape).

When choosing your trousers, try to avoid anything too formal; this is a look that has inherently casual properties so suit trousers are a no go.

Outfit Inspiration
  • Reiss Orion Woolly Merino Crew Neck Sweater YellowReiss Orion Woolly Merino Crew Neck Sweater Yellow
  • Asos Slim Wool ChinoAsos Slim Wool Chino
  • A.p.c. Leather Desert BootsA.p.c. Leather Desert Boots
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Bold Coloured Jumper Lookbook

m&s best of british aw13avva aw12el burgues ss13el burgues ss13drykorn aw13he by mango aw12ami ss14m&s xmas 2013sanahunt ss13
Key Pieces
  • Asos Crew Neck JumperAsos Crew Neck Jumper
  • American Apparel Wool V-neck SweaterAmerican Apparel Wool V-neck Sweater
  • United Colors Of Benetton Wool JumperUnited Colors Of Benetton Wool Jumper
  • John Smedley Kendal Merino Wool SweaterJohn Smedley Kendal Merino Wool Sweater
  • River Island Green Raglan Sleeve JumperRiver Island Green Raglan Sleeve Jumper
  • Easy Jumper And Mock ShirtEasy Jumper And Mock Shirt
  • Uniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino Crew Neck SweaterUniqlo Men Extra Fine Merino Crew Neck Sweater
  • Ted Baker Malvern – Textured JumperTed Baker Malvern - Textured Jumper
  • Reiss Orion Woolly Merino Crew Neck Sweater Blood OrangeReiss Orion Woolly Merino Crew Neck Sweater Blood Orange
  • Topman Green V-neck JumperTopman Green V-neck Jumper
  • Reiss City Contrast Colour Roll Neck GreyReiss City Contrast Colour Roll Neck Grey
  • Burberry London Cashmere V-neck SweaterBurberry London Cashmere V-neck Sweater
Key Style: Long Sleeve Polos

The long sleeve polo is an item you don’t often see – and I personally cannot comprehend why. Essentially it is a jumper AND polo shirt all in one, so it’s even more versatile and useful than you might initially consider.

You can use them in a few interesting ways: throw one under your suit if you fancy dressing down. I often find long sleeves are more formal than short sleeves so it’s worth having a little play around with the aesthetic.

Another option is to utilise it as a makeshift jumper over a shirt, both formal and casual. Two collars help create a strong and wholly unique aesthetic – it shows you know what you’re doing and you aren’t afraid to try new things.

Outfit Inspiration
  • Allsaints Geno ShirtAllsaints Geno Shirt
  • Asos Polo Neck JumperAsos Polo Neck Jumper
  • Allsaints Pipe ChinoAllsaints Pipe Chino
  • Allsaints Dice BootAllsaints Dice Boot
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Long Sleeve Polo Layering Lookbook

he by mango aw13ted baker ss13tommy hilfiger sportswear aw13
Key Pieces
  • American Apparel Pique Long Sleeve Tennis ShirtAmerican Apparel Pique Long Sleeve Tennis Shirt
  • River Island Blue Contrast Marl Sleeve Polo ShirtRiver Island Blue Contrast Marl Sleeve Polo Shirt
  • Asos Polo Neck JumperAsos Polo Neck Jumper
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Long Sleeve Polo Shirt In Slim FitPolo Ralph Lauren Long Sleeve Polo Shirt In Slim Fit
  • Reiss Winston Lightweight Textured Polo NavyReiss Winston Lightweight Textured Polo Navy
  • Paul Smith Jeans Zebra Polo ShirtPaul Smith Jeans Zebra Polo Shirt
  • Doriani Long-sleeved Cashmere Polo ShirtDoriani Long-sleeved Cashmere Polo Shirt
  • Easy Long Sleeve Polo ShirtEasy Long Sleeve Polo Shirt
  • He By Mango Washed Effect Piqué Polo ShirtHe By Mango Washed Effect Piqué Polo Shirt
  • Brooks Brothers Long-sleeve Polo Top 163370Brooks Brothers Long-sleeve Polo Top 163370
  • A.p.c. Long-sleeved Knitted Wool Polo ShirtA.p.c. Long-sleeved Knitted Wool Polo Shirt
  • Ami Knitted Linen And Cotton-blend Polo ShirtAmi Knitted Linen And Cotton-blend Polo Shirt
Key Technique: Knitwear On Knitwear

The knitwear on knitwear technique is one that can be tricky to pull off successfully; multiple textures can become overpowering, not to mention sweltering. However, when executed correctly it can produce a powerful look that makes a real statement.

Try to pair colours that contrast so that there is a clear divide between the two pieces: camel and navy, burgundy and navy, grey and green, beige and black, grey and orange, etc.

For a tight, sharp silhouette opt for similar weight wools and pieces that have a similar cut. Alternatively, if you require something a bit heavier/warmer, opt for thinner tropical/merino wool under layers and throw a thicker knit on top to keep things in proportion.

This is definitely a look that will be more comfortable to wear as we approach winter and the temperature drops, but if you layer effectively you will be able to strip off and add pieces without taking anything away from your overall aesthetic.

Outfit Inspiration
  • John Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool SweaterJohn Smedley Belvoir Rollneck Merino Wool Sweater
  • Asos Cardigan With Elbow PatchesAsos Cardigan With Elbow Patches
  • Reiss Prince Fleck Print Trousers BlueReiss Prince Fleck Print Trousers Blue
Lookbook Inspiration

Men's Knitwear Layering Lookbook

next aw13Antony Morato aw13-14comodo square ss13drykorn aw13h&m aw12Calliope aw12ben sherman aw12allsaints aw13he by mango september 2013
Further Reading

For more inspiration and further reading around the subject of transitional knitwear, check out these related articles on FashionBeans:

Final Word

Lightweight knitwear is a wardrobe staple and hugely versatile, but it can also be a safe option. Men tend to stick with what they know and it can be hard to break the cycle – yet those that do will reap the rewards.

Hopefully I’ve given you a little bit of inspiration today and encouraged you to start experimenting with your current knitwear collection as we transition into autumn. But before I sign off, I’d like to say one more thing: never, ever, EVER go bare-chested with just a cardigan over the top. Just, NO.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. How do you wear your lightweight knitwear and what are your go-to styles?

Until next time,