Mr Hardy Amies – the famed Savile Row designer and gatekeeper of sartorial standards – wrote in his 1964 style bible ABC of Men’s Fashion: “Once a garment into which you sweated during or after exercise, the sweater is now considered elegant enough to be the uniform of waiters in the chicest restaurants in Chelsea. The young literally live, and I expect, sleep in one.” Although that statement was penned more than five decades ago, it still has substance today. Knitwear is at once both transformative and comforting – a fine-gauge rollneck and jacket makes a louche alternative to a classic shirt and blazer combination (and very 1970s, we might add), while a chunky fisherman sweater offers unequalled respite on the coldest of winter days.
But why, you’re thinking, are we harping on about knitwear in the midst of a heat wave? Well, we all know that summer in the Northern Hemisphere can be a fickle affair at the best of times, so knitwear has its uses in the warmer months too – a lightweight silk or cotton number is a sensible companion to have close to hand when the sun dips below the horizon (or, inevitably, when it starts to bucket it down).
Knitwear also has the unexpected ability to reveal the cultural narrative of the community which created it. For instance, did you know that cable stitches symbolise fisherman’s ropes, or that the cardigan was originally worn on the battlefields of Imperial Russia? If you’d like to know a bit more about what those funny shapes on your pullover mean, or you just fancy impressing your needle-wielding granny with your knitwear knowledge, then you’re sure to find this guide useful.