Menswear trends may not be as volatile or unpredictable as their womenswear counterparts, but occasionally along comes a more unusual or trickier to pull off look ( sarong, anyone?) making it rather difficult to find something that is not only easy to wear but also looks relatively good. When one of the more classic trends starts to re-emerge, it can make looking (as well as being on trend) an easy feat to achieve. Welcome back the timeless wardrobe staple of the roll neck which has the comfort of the more modern crew neck counterpart, but with a smarter look.
History Of The Roll Neck
Before the1970´s and the Milk Tray man (and even before the London Starchitect´s of the 90´s), the roll neck jumper was a stylish way of keeping out the cold. The origin of the garment is still not exact, but fashion historians place it at around the 15th century meaning it has been in circulation for over 600 years. Born out of utility, naval officers from years ago took refuge in its neck hugging insulation properties and still, even today’s man can benefit from its protection during a chilly afternoon stroll. Since its initiation, the roll neck has developed into a less utilitarian and more civilian context with playboys, poets and philosophers all finding comfort in its north creeping neckline style.
The year of 1968 took the roll neck from the proverbial late night to prime time fashion slots thanks to a certain Steve McQueen playing detective Frank Bullitt which made ignited the trend making it one of the hottest and trendiest items of clothing that a man could possess at the time.
Renaissance Of The Roll
It hasn´t always been plain sailing for the roll neck and the style has brought with it a few wardrobe malfunctions. But, despite these there has never been a better time to rock the look which is making a huge comeback (partly due to an influx of period dramas on television.) Roll necks are such a versatile addition for a man’s seasonal winter wardrobe; they offer that McQueen-esque feel that’s always appealing, but also provide the modern, refined look that men want right now. The roll neck jumper is a time served classic thanks to its versatility and the fact that it’s extremely comfortable. A hint of things to come can be seen from the runways and designers such as Balenciaga who took the high neck to the max; while Bally was so captivated by the style that it featured in each and every one of their Autumn / Winter runway looks.
A Gauge Of Style – The Fine Line
If you like your knitwear form fitting and light weight, then the finer gauge roll neck is a great piece to introduce into a colder or transitional weather wardrobe. For a less awkward and more comfortable alternative to the classical shirt and tie, combining a roll neck as a layer under smart tailoring or a biker jacket will give you a faultless combination. However – the finer knit versions are not recommended if you’re carrying some extra pounds, so if you’re considering slimming down any time soon, then a heavier gauge fabric is a more flattering choice.
A Gauge Of Style – The Heavy Hand
The heavier gauge of roll neck is a less risky option if you’re more portly or adverse to regular exercise. If your arms are in need of some definition or your stomach needs concealing then a bulkier gauge can accommodate all these criteria with finesse as well as allowing you to experiment with textures such as rib, waffle or cable knits.
When choosing a fabric this season, you will find yourself spoilt for choice; from the luxurious 100% cashmere and extra fine merino style to the heavy sheep wool weave – the roll neck can accommodate all finishes which will help you to control your temperature and style. To keep things tried tested and classic, try to make sure you choose one of the woollen options and stay as far away from synthetic materials as possible.
How To Achieve The Look
There is still a larger percentage of men who believe the roll neck to be rather difficult to style; however if you look at the likes of Armie Hammer in The Man From U.N.C.L.E and James Bond in Spectre, then you can quickly identify that the roll neck style looks great under a blazer for a more formal look without the collar and tie (but it also has the ability to be worn in a more casual way as well.)
Off Duty Style
For any new recruits or those who are relatively unsure of this trend, try to keep things casual; by trying out a more smart casual and off duty look when out and about with friends. By opting for a heavy gauge style with slim dark denims and stylish Chelsea boots (or under a pea coat then temperatures really drop), you can give a discreet nod to the knits naval heritage whilst looking bang on trend.
Tried And Tailored
Once you have built up a certain degree of confidence with the off duty element, rack your style game (and confidence) up a gear with a more formal, tailored look. The casual dress down Friday look can work just as well outside of the office as in it, just try to remember the importance of choosing the correct colour ( beige and grey colours always work really well) as does pairing the look with heavier weight blazers, dark jeans and classic leather brogues. With the festive season approaching also the roll neck is also a great way of dressing up without going overly formal. A great roll neck will look perfect when paired with a black velvet blazer, trousers and patent slip-on´s and for colour, just remember here less is more and black always wins.
From the subtle high neck to the mock neck and the more classic full roll neck; there’s certainly going to be a style that suits you and your body type. Marks & Spencer is a master of purpose, so it’s no shock that the high street chain’s stocks well-edited collections featuring plenty of designs that will fit into the contemporary man’s wardrobe with little effort. Additionally Reiss’ Autumn / Winter collection pays certain homage to the roll neck’s flexibility, characterising it in everything from cashmere designs to interesting textures and weaves for a contemporary twist on a traditional staple.