Ways To Wear: The Quarter-Zip Sweater

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Ways To Wear: The Quarter-Zip Sweater

Words by The MR PORTER Team

28 March 2023

Right now, no item of clothing radiates power quite like a quarter-zip sweater. Yes, we know. It’s a sentence we didn’t think we’d ever be writing, either. But, as with the fleece before it, this once-derided item of casualwear has seen a remarkable turnaround, and today finds itself embraced by dukes, prime ministers and top-tier football managers. In fact, such is its current stock in certain social circles that spotting one in the upcoming final series of Succession is a surer bet than one of the Roy scions making off with the family business. So, it’s a shorthand and a status symbol, but how can you deploy one to elevate an outfit? And should you wear it half-mast or unzipped? Below, we take you through three scenarios to find out what’s hip when it comes to zips.

“Quality without compromise” is the unofficial motto of Loro Piana, but equally, we’d add, “If you know, you know”. The Italian fabric maker needs no logo – its craftsmanship being its signature – so, building your office attire around the label’s half-zip sweater is a boss move. While the creep of casualisation has hit even the corridors of power and leisure is the ultimate luxury, you’re also here to do a job, so it’s best to look like it. That means wearing yours under a suit jacket, with a flash of white shirt and, to keep your colleagues on their toes, maybe a tie, too.

But to really pull this off, your accessories really should be on point – think the glint of a Cartier watch at the wrist or the depth of patina that only comes with a Berluti briefcase. Then set the foundations with the clout of Manolo Blahnik Derby shoes. Dress codes may have shifted, but standards have not slipped.

If you’re the sort who hasn’t sported a blazer since your schooldays, then you’ll be delighted to discover that this is an inclusive trend. In fact, we’d wager that JW Anderson’s edgy, almost brutalist take on the half-zip sweater will have once-sceptical streetwear types eating their logo-emblazoned hats.

That said, if you’re still harbouring fears that slipping into one will align you with a stuffier set than you’re used running round with, then best to pack on plenty of personality: a brightly coloured KENZO tee and Fendi’s architectural shade will firmly hammer your style credentials home. And why not trade your sneakers for the style of the moment – the loafer – and opt for a bag that offers equal parts fun and function? Both of our picks are courtesy of Stockholm’s Acne Studios, which is spiritually about as far from Wall Street as it comes.

As it happens, this on-trend silhouette packs more style mileage than you might expect. Despite its prevalence in the corridors of Westminster and Washington DC, the quarter-zipper – sans suit and tie – can get down with the best of them out of hours, too. For a weekend spin on the sweater, turn to Amsterdam-based under-the-radar label RÓHE (one to know if you’re a fan of all things minimalist, tasteful and timeless). Diving into the label’s chunky knit in a plush ribbed wool feels like the sartorial equivalent of setting your out-of-office message.

For a day of rambling, try sandwiching your new favourite between YMC’s rugby shirt and DOPPIAA’s all-weather shell jacket – the hues will complement each other nicely, while the clash of collars creates some visual interest. And just because you’re off the clock doesn’t mean you should go without the finishing touches. Throw on a corduroy cap and Nike’s Zoom Vomero 5s and no one will remark on the fact you stepped out in sweatpants (other than to say how great they look).