Ralph Lauren’s Shawl Collar Spring
I think it’s about time that I make a confession: I as an “adult” have never actually owned a suit. And yes I do realize that preaching about the importance of dressing well, while not even owning a suit myself is more than a bit hypocritical. So, after years of not practicing what I preached, I finally decided to take the plunge this weekend and head up to Ralph Lauren’s Rhinelander Mansion to pick up a suit. While I plan to follow up the suit story with a full post in a couple weeks once I get it back from the tailors, I’d like to shift gears now, because aside from riding that “I just bought a suit” high, walking through the maze of sub-labels throughout the Mansion, I was continuously impressed by the shawl collar cardigans that I saw.
Ralph Lauren’s in store merchandising is in my opinion some of the best out there (now if only they could transfer that to their online styling) and so by the time I hit about the third floor of the mansion, I’d already seen a season’s worth of inspiration. While I don’t normally like pulling looks right from mannequins, I was fascinated by the fact that this year, throughout the entire brand, RL seems be focusing quite heavily on shawl collar cardigans.
Heading into spring, I always find myself pulling on shawl collar cardigans more than anything else, as an easy step between wearing a full on jacket and simply forgoing an outer layer all together. I personally favor a shawl collar cardigan that is more than just a solid color, something that can stand on it’s own and still be enough to make an outfit interesting. Ralph Lauren’s knitwear selections this season include not just the basic shawl collar cardigan, but four other models that I think capture this “statement sweater” idea.
Despite the awful styling (which as I said is a constant problem for RL online) this is one of my favorite pieces from Ralph this season. As somewhat of a duffle coat, shawl collar hybrid, I really like the use of toggles as an easy shortcut to sweater jacket status. The subtle cable knit pattern and oatmeal color (which I wish more companies would use in their knits) certainly don’t hurt either.
At this point it seems like the belted thigh length cardigan has become a required piece for any “high end” collection, and so not to be out done, Black Label Denim offered up this sand colored design this season. The lack of buttons, or of any real detailing, veers closer to a luxed-up robe than just any old cardigan. Which means you probably want to dress less like this extra from a Bravo reality show, and think more like David Starsky. And yes I am aware that I just advocated for you to take style cues from Starsky & Hutch.
Another adventure in inexplicable styling from the good people at Polo, I’m a bit biased when it comes to this one, because I actually picked this sweater up for myself a week ago. I was drawn to the print, which reminded me of a blanket I saw a few months back in Santa Fe, but I also know that with a pattern this bold, it’s best to tread lightly, so I’ll probably really only be wearing this with solids and far more understated pieces throughout. It’s a statement piece for sure, but you don’t want to be saying the wrong things with it.
This sweater from RRL was the piece that I was most impressed by during my visit to the mansion this weekend. The cable knitting is beautifully done, particularly along the sleeves which have a section of horizontal stripes across the bicep to break up the Aran pattern. But it’s the feel of the sweater that really had me wishing for an extra seven hundred bucks to spend. The washed out texture reminded me of those grey athletic sweatshirts from the seventies. It’s incredibly soft, the sort of piece that will either be on your back, or resting on a chair, always close at hand to toss on all season long.
And of course, if these fall outside of your price range, I’ve heard great things about Club Monaco’s new Italian linen sweaters, which could be had for less than two hundred bucks.