NOT just cricket
For years, the crew-neck has been the only collar that would do. Now the V returns.
There’s a seminal menswear scene in the oversexed 1992 thriller Basic Instinct (no, it’s not the scene you’re thinking of ), in which Michael Douglas’s pervy detective is prowling a nightclub, following Sharon Stone’s ice blonde murder suspect. Most notable about it, to men’s style obsessives, is not Douglas’ character’s questionable behaviour, but the super-deep V-neck jumper he is wearing. It’s a heavy shade of ditch green and the V reaches down almost to his nipple-line. He wears no shirt or T-shirt underneath.
It’s possible that this moment launched the unsightly trend for navel-skimming V-neck T-shirts and jumpers that dominated the ’90s and 2000s. The knock-on effect for knitwear being that for the past five years at least, anything other than a crew neck in summer or a roll-neck in winter has been unacceptable. V-necks were all but banished from the shops (cricket and golf departments apart) and you’d have been hard pushed to find one in any reputable designer’s collection. Until now.
The first sign of a return started a season ago at Kent & Curwen, where Creative Director Daniel Kearns, under the watchful eye of part-owner David Beckham, has reinvigorated the label’s famous cricket jumper. K&C’S ultra-soft navy wool knit with subtle cream trim is the kind of thing to wear to lunch at the weekend.
“In 1932, Kent & Curwen purchased a knitwear factory in London to create their first cricket sweaters, a style that would solidify K&C’S reputation around the world,” says Kearns. “Cary Grant and Errol Flynn started wearing this coveted knitwear, soon making the cricket jumper the must-have item for stylish gentlemen of the ’30s.”
The brand’s contemporary interpretation of this classic style has instigated today’s sea change for the V-neck. “Fashion is a cycle,” Kearns says. “For so long, we’ve had the sweatshirt and crew neck, and now the V-neck has become an antidote.”
It’s a point echoed by Alessandro Sartori, Creative Director at Ermenegildo Zegna, who for his first collection
has teamed V-neck jumpers and shirts with classic suiting. “The V-neck was out of fashion for so long probably because it was perceived as synonymous with an old style associated with a very dusty look,” says Sartori. “I love to see the skin around the neckline and mostly I enjoy the parallels between the V-neck of the jacket and the V-neck of the sweatshirt or jersey. The best
way to wear a V-neck is directly on the skin with a beautiful blazer.”
Creative Director of Cerruti 1881 Jason Basmajian is equally specific about how to wear a V-neck: “V-necks look great worn alone on skin, especially in fine gauge cashmere or wool-silk. Avoiding a classic sports shirt will ensure you don’t look like you borrowed your dad’s old golf sweater.”
Brown houndstooth wool coat by Paul Smith. Oatmeal Fair Isle wool sleeveless V-neck sweater by Joseph. Blue denim shirt by Paul & Shark. Burgundy/white polka dot silk tie by Peckham Rye.
Grey cashmere V-neck jumper; blue/white striped cotton poplin shirt; navy wool-cotton trousers, all by Louis Vuitton. Camel wool coat, navy wool V-neck jumper, navy cotton trousers, all by Marks & Spencer. White cotton T-shirt, by David Gandy for M&S Autograph.
Navy/cream wool V-neck sweater by Kent & Curwen. Blue cotton trousers by Hugo Boss. Black wool blazer by Z Zegna. Navy cotton poplin V-neck top; black wool trousers, both by Ermenegildo Zegna.