Why all your wardrobe needs is a rollneck (or six)

We talk you through this season’s chicest knit, and more importantly, how to wear it

Ah, the humble rollneck. Is there any knit that’s quite as cool, or as clean, or as flattering, or as easy to wear? Not in our book.

You might have guessed that team Jackal’s got a bit of thing about rollnecks at the moment – with good reason. They’re the ultimate style chameleon’s go to in chilly weather. Choose yours wisely and it’ll pair with everything from a suit, to an overshirt and khakis, and give your look an instant hit of cool-factor into the bargain.

These six are at the top of our shopping list. Here’s why they should be on yours, too.

1. John Smedley ‘Cherwell’ rollneck

John Smedley’s rollnecks are the stuff of menswear legend. Lovingly knitted in Lancashire, they mix contemporary looks with almost 240 years of knitwear making expertise. The ‘Cherwell’ is one of Smedley’s three fine merino rollneck styles, and the one with a classic fit. It’s slightly longer in the body to sit comfortably inside your trouser waistband without bagging, and its suitably form fitting, too. Smedley have knitted the Cherwell in approaching 10 colours this season, but this rich camel number’s subtly different, yet easy-to-wear. This is one to dress up: try it with a sharp grey flannel suit and dark brown Chelsea boots the next time you need to take clients out.


2. J Crew striped rollneckJ Crew striped rollneck

This piece sits at the preppier end of the style spectrum, which makes sense, because J Crew first made it 30 years ago. It’s been resurrected from their archives for this season, knitted from cotton with forest green stripes and soft rolling neckline. You could play up its preppy credentials and wear it beneath a trim tweed jacket (Polo Ralph Lauren’s are great this season), but the mix of earthy green and ecru stripes also looks a treat with soft coloured suede and indigo denim. Try it with a Valstar trucker and some serious jeans.


3. Mr P electric blue rollneckMr P blue rollneck

Looking for a serious pop of colour? Mr Porter’s own brand collection has you covered. In a vivid shade of cobalt, this fine gauge knit is a fun casual option to tackle grey days. Bold blue, despite its confidence, isn’t a tricky colour to wear, and it makes an interesting contrast to dark greys or black, as well as earthy colours. A part of Mr P’s spring drop, it’s designed to be cool enough to wear right through to summer proper. It was knitted in Italy, and its superfine yarn makes this a great piece to layer under a soft raglan topcoat and chinos.


4. Ami charcoal alpaca rollneck

This is an investment-grade rollneck, make no mistake. Ami’s chunky design might not be something to wear past April, but you’ll be sure to break it out again in the autumn. It’s knitted from a baby alpaca blend; alpaca is softer and lighter than conventional lamb’s wool, which lends this sweater extra-insulation and lightness. The charcoal colour is timeless and easy to wear, and its subtle melange finish adds texture to a casual look. The chunky neck and extra-thick ribbed hem are chic touches, too.


5. Oliver Spencer ‘Talbot’ rollneckOliver Spencer melange rollneck

It seems that Oliver Spencer’s a rollneck fan; the knit’s formed the backbone of his winter knitwear collections for several seasons now. This winter, Spencer’s gone big on texture, using rich melange yarns to add depth to his designs. This piece blends merino threads in mustard, charcoal, navy and plum to lend the rollneck a soft earthy tone that’s surprisingly easy to wear. Take Spencer’s lead and layer this piece up with with corduroy and velvet outerwear in navy or rust, for a seasonal look that’s sure to turn heads.


6. Johnstons of Elgin cable-knit rollneckJohnstons cream rollneck

Johnstons of Elgin is the British ‘king of cashmere’, a fine cashmere producer that’s been spinning, knitting and weaving cashmere fibres since 1797. This sleek chain-link rollneck is a signature piece of the season, knitted from sumptuous 10-ply cashmere that combines softness and durability with strength. It’s a little bit retro with its milk-white colour, but we love it – a neutral knit like this will pair with just about anything, after all. Dress this piece up or down as the mood takes you. It’ll layer beneath checked suit on chilly mornings, or under a cosy duffle coat on the weekends. Yes, it’s an investment piece, but the best cashmere in Britain doesn’t come cheap.