Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Norwegian Fisherman’s Sweater

This sweater is one of the icons of L.L. Bean, and I am pleased to announce that they have recently returned it to their catalogue. Here in California, there are only a few months wherein this is useful, but it is the best warm sweater when it is nippy outside.

In classic navy blue with a white bird's-eye weave, this sweater pairs well with just about any trousers that you will ever own. Wide wale corduroys, tweeds, flannels and khakis all work well with this one. A sport shirt, a dress shirt or a turtleneck are all perfect contenders underneath. A necktie or no – both equally appropriate. The short version is that outside the tennis sweater, this is the most valuable sweater that a gentleman can own. They are not cheap, but they are excellent investments. They wear beautifully and they look as good when they are "worn in" a bit as when they are new. If you inherit one from your pop or a sibling, it is that much better than a new one.

Now that they are available through L.L. Bean again, they are fairly modestly priced at $129. If you get them from other sources they may be had for slightly less to about $50 more. Again, an excellent investment in the wardrobe and if you are going to limit yourself to two sweaters, make this one the second.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Tennis Sweater

Whilst it is a convenient skill to have for when we are invited to the country club, tennis is not an absolute requirement for young gentlemen. The tennis sweater, on the other hand, is.

In the U. S. these are normally called tennis sweaters, though in the U. K. they are normally referred to as cricket jumpers. They are made of cotton or wool, they are usually cable knit, they are invariably V-necked, and they have a band of color or colors highlighting the neck and the cuffs. They may be white or cream color in the body, and, while the long sleeved version is the most useful, they are sometimes available as vests and, more rarely, as cardigans.

The basic wardrobe requirement is for the basic long sleeved pull over model. Under a blue blazer and with a long necktie or a bow, it adds and elegant layer. Best of all, and the real reason that this is an indispensible wardrobe piece, this is the only sweater that really looks well with shorts. Cream or white may be paired with white shorts at the country club or shipboard, or they may be paired equally well with khaki shorts. Naturally, it pairs perfectly with white flannels or with khakis.

This is both the most formal of sweaters and it has the potential to be quite casual as well. In New England and the northern climes sweater collections are normal, but out here in sunny California we generally don't have so many. If you are going to limit yourself to a single sweater, make it a good tennis sweater.