Roll neck sweater with a suit is more or less a classic combination. Or at least it is a widely recognized and admitted way to dress down your suit. The most common option for this kind of outfit however is to wear your suit with a lightweight merino wool roll neck sweater.
And yes, a well-fitting, light merino wool sweater in light gray or burgundy for example is a perfect match to your blue or dark gray suit. But you can also try to pair your suit or a sport coat with heavier knitwear. This gives you quite a different outcome. And more alternatives to variate your wardrobe.
Herringbone wool suit with heavy roll neck sweater
The pictures and outfits here are from our trip to Florence and to Pitti Uomo. Usually I have scheduled my acquisitions of new suits or jackets so that I could wear them first for Pitti. I have never made any purchases just to wear the suits at Pitti, but it has been a good excuse to update my wardrobe as well. This time I actually made only two new purchased before the fair. I commissioned a new mtm-suit by Scabal from Sauma and bought a new Sealup overcoat from them as well. I will cover those acquisitions later.
But the suits you see here are not new. In fact the one I wore for the first day of the fair is actually years old. It is a herringbone wool suit that I bought probably 2013 from Uniqlo. The fabric of the suit is heavy and beautiful and the suit is actually one the best fitting ready-to-wear suits in my closet. And for the first day I decided to pair the suit with an oatmeal colored chunky roll neck sweater and black tassel loafers.
And by the way, if you are looking for the most versatile shoe there is – the answer might well be a black calf leather tassel loafer. Works all the way from business occasions to the most casual weekends and strolls in the city.
Herringbone suit – casually dressed-up
I have earlier wrote about different ways to wear a herringbone suit. And as said before, herringbone is surely one of the most versatile and easiest patterns a man can wear. A herringbone suit in gray and black is a subtle step above your basic charcoal or mid-gray suits. It is also a good choice as in most cases you can wear the jacket and trousers also separately.
The bigger the herringbone pattern, the more casual the suit. That is a good rule of thumb in my opinion. Therefore a suit with more visible and apparent herringbone pattern is a good pair for a (heavier) knitwear. This way you can also make sure that the level of formality between the different parts of your outfit are in balance. Another good rule to keep in mind is that the smaller the pattern on the fabric, the easier it is to combine with other patterns and cloths. So when you go for bigger patterns, reduce the amount of different patterns in your outfit. Especially for more casual attires like the one here, I think one or two visible patterns are actually enough.
As said, I have had this suit for years. And actually I have started to like it more and more during those years. I don’t wear it that often but every time I do, I feel particularly good. And it is indeed a versatile piece to wear.
Shades of brown
The other combination is from the last day of the fair. Though I have used this ensemble a couple of times after the fair as well. The structure of the outfit is basically the same. A suit, the sweater and tassel loafers. But here instead of black and gray I went for the shades of brown. And instead of calf leather I chose suede loafers. But as you can see, I wore the white linen pocket square with both of the outfits. I could have chosen a square with some pattern, but I wanted to keep it as simple as possible. In fact, this kind of an outfit you could also wear totally without a pocket square.
The suit is made of a very soft feeling Loro Piana wool fabric and features 4×2 buttoning. And two patch pockets. The soft, “jersey” kind of wool is in fact a perfect match for the heavier and casual sweater. Just as the gray herringbone fabric, it makes the suit rather casual. And appropriate to combine and dress down with casual pieces such as the sweater.
As the herringbone wool suit this one also features a bit fuller cut and less tight fit as some of my other suits. And this makes it possible to wear it with heavier knitwear. If you want to read more about the suit, check out the article about brown suit with brown accessories that I wrote last year.
Pay attention to the fit
Naturally this is an obvious point. Once again. But it is good to keep in mind that if your suits are very tight and narrow cut, you can’t wear them with roll necks like the one I am wearing here. I personally have many suits that I could not wear with this sweater. This is also a question about context. And the right cut of the suit also depends on the intended use, occasion and combination.
Another thing to keep in mind while thinking about whether this would be something you want to try, is your own physique and build. The reason for this is that this kind of combination can easily make you look fat. When I posted the picture where I am wearing the blue overcoat (second from the top) to instagram, someone commented that I should loose some weight. If that guy would see me without a shirt, he might think otherwise.
But it is a fact that a chunky sweater combined with a jacket can make you look bigger than you are. And it is true that this kind of combination suits best tall and thin guys.Therefore the fit, balance and proportions matter.
To pair a suit or a sport coat with heavier knitwear seemed to be one of the trends at Pitti Uomo this season. And well, that is a perfect combination for the warm winter days of Florence. With a combination like this your wouldn’t really need an overcoat in that climate. The rise of this kind of combinations is also a part of the trend to pair tailored clothing with more casual elements. And this is definitely one of the biggest movements on the classic menswear trends at the moment.
Naturally this kind of attire is not appropriate for the formal business meetings. But it is a really good choice for casual days at the office. Especially as you can easily just take off your jacket and still look sharp but casual.
Pictures by Juha Kortesalo & Malin Sandberg