Roll with it: how to wear a polo-neck
There’s a 1960s mood moving through London this spring. The Fashion and Textile Museum has a small but perfectly curated Swinging London exhibition (until June 2) showcasing the work of the Chelsea Set, including Mary Quant and Terence Conran. It’s the perfect taster for a larger retrospective of Mary Quant opening at the V&A in April that will include unseen pieces from her personal archive. And over at the Gagosian in Mayfair, David Bailey’s black and white portraits from the 1960s are on display (until March 30), including shots of “the Shrimp” – one of the era’s iconic models, Jean Shrimpton. Is it any wonder then that right now the poloneck jumper – one of the key sartorial symbols of that decade – is experiencing a renaissance?
“It’s all about the rollneck,” says Rachael Wood, co-founder of London-based Chinti & Parker. Known for creating brightly coloured standout sweaters, the label has recently launched an Essentials collection of six more subtle designs in 100 per cent cashmere. “Our Essentials cashmere rollneck has been one of our bestsellers since it launched in September 2018. People are shopping differently now – our customers have been asking us for plain pieces and it felt like the right time to do something more sober.” Going from statement to stealth always makes good style sense. ‘You need those pieces that sew everything together,’ says Wood, ‘Our parents wore rollnecks – now we’re wearing rollnecks.’
Though if an outfit is pared-down, a patterned polo neck can whoop things up. Elsewhere, Scottish knitwear label Esk is embracing “Shrimp”-inspired modernist style with the striped Sophia poloneck. In two-ply cashmere, available in navy and ecru, navy and signal red, or black and grey. For extra-fine merino-wool knits, John Smedley’s 30-gauge, slim-fit Catkin rollneck comes in an assortment of colours and is perfect for layering. Personally, I’m currently enjoying layering a striped cotton-jersey poloneck underneath a jumpsuit. Other ways to roll with it include: teaming a fine-knit poloneck with a silk blouse and a midi skirt, or simply wearing a high-necked sweater underneath an open-collared shirtdress. This versatile base layer adds interest to an outfit whilst being quietly on-trend.
This is an edited version of a feature I’ve written for the FT’s How To Spend It HERE.
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