Novelty menswear designs are seldom stylish. Novelty cufflinks are clichéd, novelty ties say ‘I don’t know how to have fun any other way’ and the novelty Christmas jumper is quite simply revolting. On any other occasion, if someone said to you ‘here’s an idea. Why not wear a jumper with a felt snowman stuck on the front, with protruding knitted eyes and carrot-nose?’, you’d proclaim them insane and delete from your contacts book post-haste. Why, then, is it acceptable to commit such an act of sartorial insanity at this time of year?
That’s not to say you can’t channel a touch of festive cheer with a well-chosen sweater. Invest in one of these for a stylish alternative to your uncle’s moth-eaten Rudolf jumper. They’ll feel cheery come Christmas and look sharp well into the season beyond.
1. Polo Ralph Lauren Polo Bear sweater
The polo bear is something of a festive style icon. Proudly adorning Mr Lauren’s signature knits winter-in, winter-out. This season, the Polo Bear’s got his swagger on, knitted into a chunky crewneck wearing his trusty double-denim, James Dean style. In navy, the knit itself is super-wearable, and made from a butter-soft blend of wool, cotton and alpaca. Rumour has it Mr Lauren prefers to blend Alpaca into his knits for the fibre’s superior softness. Wear this gathered around the tree, and you’ll be the envy of the family.
£345, shop now
2. Lardini wool melange rollneck
The burgundy sweater is a classic; distinctly festive, but easy to wear well beyond Christmas itself. This rollneck from Lardini brings a smart touch of texture to the table too, thanks to its delicate melange weave, which combines subtly differing yarns in red and navy into its merino fabrication. It’s deep, rich red looks sharp with everything from raw indigo denim to charcoal flannel; wear with your favourite jeans and slippers around the house over the break, and layer under a winter suit once we’re back to work in January.
£190, shop now
3. Howlin’ striped lambswool crewneck
This Howlin’ crewneck is exclusive to Trunk Clothiers, and offers an understated, tonal take on a traditional striped sweater. Its mossy green ground, beige, grey and terracotta stripes offer a positive symphony of neutrals, but nonetheless lend the knit character. Play up the knit’s tonal design and pair with pleated chocolate chunky cords and a tan cotton drill shirt.
£215, shop now
4. Kent & Curwen Fair Isle sweater
Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without a few fair isle sweaters in the mix, and given that Kent & Curwen can claim to have first created the cricket jumper, you’ll be in safe hands with this knit. Like the Polo Bear crewneck above, this piece is knitted from a soft blend of wool and alpaca for extra warmth, and with its intricate cream, crimson and navy pattern, it will sit comfortably with everything from dark suede bombers to tailored greatcoats during the winter months. The textured collar, cuffs and hems are a nice touch, too.
£325, shop now
5. Drake’s brushed Shetland crewneck
Drakes’ knitwear is a feast for the eyes this season; filled with confident, brightly striped numbers like this. In fact, this is a relatively tame design compared with some of Drake’s other pieces, but it gets our vote because while fun, it’s also distinctly wearable. The rust and ochre hoop stripes make a statement, but will pair with all manner of things beneath, from sky blue button-downs and tan chinos, to navy flannel shirts and dark jeans. Knitted in Scotland from rugged Shetland wool, and then gently brushed to soften its surface fibres, this piece brings with it some serious comfort factor, too.
£195, shop now
6. Massimo Piombo chunky knit mock-neck
Channel a touch of après-ski chic at the Christmas dinner table with this chunky mock-neck from independent Italian brand, Massimo Piombo. It’s called a mock-neck because it’s a fake rollneck as it were, or a rollneck without the roll. Instead, the tall knitted collar is simply stitched in place around the sweater’s neckline. Its thick wooly composition, and its graphic cream and black design both add a distinct ski-slope-ready edge to the design, too. This is just as well, because if you buy this for Christmas, you could comfortably wear it on the slopes in the New Year. Smart move, if you ask me.
£265, shop now