Building the Millennial Closet: The Shawl-Collar Sweater


As we build our closet piece by piece, we have to consider the shifts in fashion trends that accompany the changing of the seasons.

Fall is winding down and winter is coming - cue Ned Stark. As the mercury falls, our layers numerate and thicken. Late Autumn offers strong winds of seemingly sharp temperatures, and it can produce a rage inside that makes you damn Mother Nature and question why you didn't apply for a job in the Florida Keys. Since you aren’t lucky enough to be working as an adventure guide at the The Westin Key West, we present you with the shawl-collar to answer your cooling climate woes.

Think of the shawl-collar sweater as the grown-up, going-out version of the hoodies you sported in college. It is a warm, comfy layer of wool that helps you bear the cold (despite offering little wind resistance) without sacrificing style.

Things to think about when picking out a shawl-collar sweater:


Number of buttons:

One or two buttons seem to be the standard for most brands. Three-button styles exist, but they are quite rare and look awfully similar to henleys, which mucks up the look a bit. If you are more into the nautical fashion trend, look for a shawl-collar sweater that has toggles instead of buttons. Being different is a good thing.


The fabric:

Check the tag and ensure that you know what you're getting yourself into in terms of quality and care before dipping into your pocket. This is something a lot of guys forget to do. Many manufactures make wool sweaters that are dry clean only, which can be expensive and a pain to maintain. Wool blend fabrics are more delicate than their polyester and cotton counterparts, so it is important to be cautious when cleaning it. Using the permanent press setting on your washer and letting your sweaters air dry (usually by lying them on a flat surface) can help avoid shrinking, pilling, and the creation of holes in the stitching.


How To Rock It:

As mentioned earlier, the shawl-collar sweater is a layering garment. It is meant to be worn with a shirt underneath. Wearing wool against the skin can be uncomfortable, and the sweat that naturally accumulates under the arms can lead to a more potent body odor. In addition, if you wear antiperspirant, the chemicals in your stick can damage the wool wherever there is direct contact, ruining the sweater.


Before you buy: Think about what you already have in your closet:

When you are picking a color and a style, think through what you already have in your closet. The shirt that you wear under your shawl-collar sweater will be seen, so this is a key consideration. A complimentary color henley or a solid colored v-neck t-shirt pair well with the shawl-collar, and they are easy to mix and match. As always, make sure the item that you purchase is different from the items you already have in your closet, i.e., if you have a navy cardigan, maybe go with a tan or forest green shawl-collar sweater to shake things up.


Our Picks:

Italian Cotton-Merino Shawl-Collar Sweater

This cotton-wool blend is thinner and more versatile than most full wool versions, making it perfect for the changing of seasons. The thickness of this piece allows you to layer under a jacket and not look like Ralphie from A Christmas Story.


North Country Alpaca Blend Popover

Another wool blend that comes in a variety of colors. This shawl-collar has more texture than most others and looks decent on most body types in the darker colors. It is also a bit thinner, but the waffled texture helps it act like a thicker piece of fabric.


West Highland Shawl Sweater

This sweater from Tommy Bahama is a solid Wool/Linen/Polyester/Alpaca blend that is warmer than the others on this list. It is also the thickest sweater on this list. A long sleeve is the recommended undergarment for this piece, as it may be a bit itchier than most others. Note: this sweater is dry clean only.