• Sat. May 25th, 2024

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Top Men’s Knitwear Rules

Every fashion-forward man should have a selection of knitwear to lay his hands on. Inherently versatile, knitwear offers style and convenience when you’re getting dressed — but it can also go very wrong if you don’t know the basic rules.

River Island, a leading retailer in men’s fashion, has put together a series of quick tips on how to wear your knitwear to help you look suave, sophisticated and on-trend at any event this season.

Neck shape

Don’t underestimate what your knitwear’s neck shape can do. When it comes to choosing and styling men’s knitwear, you need to work with what you have for the best look. There are three main knitwear neck shapes to choose from:


Timeless and traditional, the crew-neck (or round-neck) is the most versatile choice, which means it can conveniently take you from casual to dressed when you need it. Tops with these neck outlines are great for layering under blazers, leather jackets, bomber coats, and any other outerwear.

For a dressed down approach, get a khaki crew-neck jumper and wear with stone slim-fit chinos or cargo trousers. Getting dressed up? Slip a cashmere crew-neck over a white dress shirt and belted tapered trousers before polishing off your dapper look with a tailored suit jacket.


The V-neck shape gives the illusion of a longer neck, which helps to lengthen round faces, and has a more formal look to it than the crew-neck. Get a luxury cashmere V-neck sweater and wear it over a cotton Oxford shirt and tie with skinny trousers to give a cool and confident vibe at work and at play.


Roll-neck knitwear was a staple of the nineties for urbane men — and now the trend is riding high again. Naturally smart and sophisticated, dark roll-necks add a suave flair to a tailored suit. Just make sure you go for a thin-gauge fabric, like cashmere or merino wool, to project a streamlined silhouette.  


Correct layering is essential when it comes to men’s knitwear. Get it wrong, and you lose your frame, but get it spot-on and you’ll cut a stylish figure. For the ideal layered outfit, simply select your base layer, middle layer and top layer — avoid wearing more than three.

  • Base — wear a cotton tee or polo shirt as a casual bottom layer or go for a dress shirt and tie if a formal occasion calls.
  • Middle — your most important layer, this is your chance to show off your jumper or cardigan.
  • Final — polish off your look with a parka or leather jacket if you’re heading out for the day, or dress it up at night with a checked overcoat or double-breasted mac.

When it comes to layering knitwear, your top layer should always be the thickest — just in case you get hot. Never layer knitwear on knitwear, as it looks messy and takes attention away from your knitwear’s subtle patterns and textures.

Instead, mix fabrics. Pull on a cotton shirt under a chunky cardigan and finish off with a leather jacket for a suave-casual look. Or strike an elegant appeal with a fine-knit sweater over a silk shirt and single-vent jacket for masculine confidence at formal events.

Collars and jumpers

How do you wear your shirt collar under a jumper or sweater? To avoid looking like a schoolboy, always keep the collar of your shirt tucked into your knitted top and not hanging over the neckline.


Ideal for throwing on in a rush, and more lightweight and flexible than a heavy coat; follow these tips to look good in a cardigan:

  • Don’t go for a tight-fitted style, which can look typically feminine. Pull on something looser or an open-front design, instead.
  • For the reason above, avoid patterned or colourful buttons and opt for toggles or small and plain styles.
  • Button up your cardi at formal events and let it hang open if the occasion is more laidback. Don’t think you need to substitute your winter coat for a cardi. They look great as an underlayer to an aviator, parka and borg-collar jacket.


Knitwear transforms your silhouette. If you want to reduce a large frame, don’t emphasize it with a chunky jumper — look out for fine-gauge knitwear combined with belted overcoats to pull your waist in. Similarly, skinny frames fill out nicely with thick, crew-neck sweaters and cable-knit cardigans, although, thin-knit designs are fine granted that you layer properly.


Certain woolen fabrics suit occasions better than others. For example, cashmere and merino wool knitwear offer a close fit and soft, luxury feel. These woolen textures slip snugly and stylishly under suit jackets and blazers, which makes them ideal for formal events, and a V-neck or roll-neck style with a pair of tapered trousers creates a trim office-ready outfit for work.

On the other hand, chunky Aran- and cable- knit jumpers deliver a more casual look that complements slouch-fit jeans and comfy chinos perfectly. The basic rule here is: heavy knitwear for informal events and thinner woolen fabrics for dressier occasions.


When it comes to knitwear, stick to darker shades for formal events and save your brighter pieces for every day.  Colour can totally transform the tone of an outfit, so if you want to project an air of elegant sophistication, it’s best to opt for greys, blacks and navies.


When deciding what to wear with your knit, considering the overall collaboration of patterns is crucial. Say you go for a houndstooth or jacquard cardigan; make sure you match this with neutral-coloured trousers and a plain tee to keep your look cool and sophisticated. Likewise, if you want to wear your favourite paisley or multi-checked shirt, keep the tone smooth and polished with a plain-knit style in a neutral grey, black or beige.

Knitwear is the trend to look out for this season — bear these tips in mind to make sure you get it right.