A timeless menswear classic, the crewneck jumper (or sweatshirt, depending on your semantics) is said to have originated in 1926, when American-football player Benjamin Russell Jr. conceived the idea (later realised by Russell Sr., owner of a clothing label) as a breathable, roomier alternative to the chafing, claggy wool jerseys that he and his teammates at the University of Alabama were sporting. To add another athletics-related anecdote to the item’s origins, there is also a school of thought that argues that the circular-neck garment was first used by rowers or oarsmen (the ‘crew’) during the early 1900s.
Regardless of its background, it’s hard to dismiss that this versatile, adaptable style piece has paddled its way out of the water and into the wardrobes of men the world over, thanks, in large part, to it being popularised by style icons such as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, JFK and Steve McQueen.
Sticking to its sportswear roots, some of us use it when exercising; others, however, are drawn to its soft, smooth touch, so wear it to bed; it is also called upon for Zoom calls; for post-work drinks on weekdays, bistros at the weekends and during languorous, coastline days when abroad. It pairs seamlessly with other sartorial staples, such as slim-fit chinos or pristine white sneakers, and it can also level out an outfit when wearing bolder items of clothing. The crewneck can do it all.
So, if you’re on the market for this failsafe essential, we’ve picked out our favourite pieces to buy right now…
Maximise wears with a navy crewneck
Let’s look at what is perhaps the most versatile colour in any wardrobe, so that, when paired with the dress code-spanning crewneck, you’ll have a garment that’ll blend into most occasions and scenarios. Neither as light-sucking as black nor as much of a statement as brighter shades, and adaptable enough to be worn to work under a blazer, pulled on over a simple button-down shirt, or tied around your shoulders for warmth, the navy crewneck is the workhorse of any capsule collection.
Inspired by Richard Burton’s Dr. Edward Hewitt in the 1965 film The Sandpiper, this navy raglan sweatshirt by British label Hemingsworth has a clean-cut silhouette. While Aurélien's extra fine Merino crewneck jumper provides a soft touch of winter warmth in a stylish cut.
Navy Sandpiper Raglan Sweatshirt
Extrafine Merino Crew Neck Sweater - Navy
When the temperature drops, make a textural statement with a chunky crewneck
For something that can tackle tougher temperatures, consider a chunky-knit crewneck. Indeed, such an item looks best on autumnal walks in The Hamptons or mountainside strolls when the mercury drops in the Highlands, but, with nothing ever a guarantee with British weather, it’s always good to have a safety net in the back pocket, just in case.
We particularly like Aubin’s off-white ‘Westport Aran’ jumper, which features cable stitching and is knitted using wool from sheep that roam the Pennine Hills. Heritage maker Peregrine’s waffle knit also comprises British wool, and is water repellent, making it extremely useful when trying to battle the elements.
Spring yourself into summer with a lightweight crewneck
Although a crewneck jumper evokes images of the colder periods of the year, one can argue that it looks best in the season of spring, whereby the unpredictable, temperamental weather is best navigated via this transitional garment that can be whipped off or pulled on as the climes demand. It can be used as part of your style arsenal in the brightest months, too — opt for one in a lighter fabric, such as raglan, and either pull it over a T-shirt during the inevitable erratic weeks of weather in June, July or August, or with a soft linen shirt during an alfresco late-evening dinner.
To keep things classic and fuss-free, consider this grey melange option from Uniform Standard, with minimal detailing. Hemingsworth’s ‘Sandpiper’ raglan sweatshirt also comes in a cool-blue hue, and is made with 100% extra-long staple Supima cotton, an even softer material than the standard. Or, for something with a bit of Gallic flair, try a breton stripe variant.
Organic Cotton Fleece Sweatshirt Grey Melange
Blue Sandpiper Raglan Sweatshirt
Pablo Breton Raglan Sweatshirt
For further seasonal style inspiration, here are the six most stylish sneakers for spring 2022
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.