Knitwear and Suits: Can They Work Together?

Photo by Geoffrey Franklin

At this time of year it’s natural to gravitate towards luxurious knitwear. January has set in, temperatures have plummeted and you may be considering dabbling in the practice of fashion layering. The good news is that layering is a look that’s been very popular in recent years, especially in high end men’s fashion. It’s not always easy to get right, but when you do it can look great and be immensely practical.

But here’s the key question: can you do it with a suit? 

Briefly: yes. Knitwear and suits can work very well together… as long as you pair your pieces carefully. 

If you’d like to give it a go, here are a few key things to remember.

Thickness matters

Successful suit and knitwear pairings rely on carefully vetted sweaters. It’s unlikely that a chunky sweater will look good under a formal jacket as it may force your tailoring out of shape. Instead, try it with a thinner fitted sweater which will add warmth, colour and texture without straining the seams of your suit jacket.

Consider the neckline

We think crew-neck sweaters look best under a suit as they’re simple, neat and easy to style. Saying that, other types of sweaters including V-necks and roll-necks can work well too, though they’re often a little trickier to style correctly.

Not all knitwear is created equally

At first glance you may not be able to tell the difference between an investment cashmere sweater and a much lower priced one… but the differences are likely to become apparent very quickly.

First of all, better quality knitwear will retain it’s shape and texture better over time. It will stay looking smarter for much longer, whereas cheaper sweaters often only look smart for the duration of one season.

Secondly, it’s also worth remembering that higher end knitwear is usually much more comfortable and far better at keeping the heat in.

Don’t lose the tie

When you add an extra layer under your tailored suit it can be tempting to remove your tie in its place. Unless you’ve opted for roll-neck knitwear, we suggest you don’t do this. A tie will up the ante of your knitwear and keep your look formal, even if you can only see a small fraction of it at your neckline. 

Keep things simple

Finally, here’s a reminder that layering works best when you keep things simple. The best under-suit knitwear is classic and plain. Patterned knitwear can over-complicate the look and draw the eye to the wrong spot. Stay sophisticated and office-appropriate by choosing a plain sweater in tones of blue, red, green, mustard or grey. 

Interested in more winter-appropriate style tips? You’ll like this: How to Keep Warm and Still Look Sharp.