How To Wear A Roll Neck

You’ll find this beautiful marino roll neck at

You’ll find this beautiful marino roll neck at

Roll neck jumpers are everywhere this season and not without good reason. Roll necks are a cosy but cool way of keeping out the cold in winter. A modern wardrobe stable with the comfort of a crew neck, but with the added benefit of being considerably smarter, the roll neck has earned the title of ‘timeless classic'.


Worn formally or casually, the roll neck offers a ‘Bond-esque' manly feel that's always appealing but also provides the modern refined look that men want right now. You can probably tell that I'm a big fan and I've recently purchased four, in different colours and gauges, so I've been looking at styling combinations and how best to wear them. It's worth noting that the colours I picked up were black, navy, burgundy and grey and they range from fine to heavy in gauge. By gauge, I mean the number of stitches per inch of fabric. It's important to note this because the gauge will impact not only the insulating abilities of the garment but also what it can be worn with. For example, a lightweight fine-gauge roll neck is smart enough to substitute for a formal shirt, particularly in a breathable marino, but if you tried to wear a chunky roll-neck under your suit you'd probably lose a stone in sweat.


Before looking at some suggestions on how to wear a roll neck, it's worth noting what colours are available and what's on trend. Black, navy and grey will always work but I picked up the burgundy because it's autumnal and very much on-trend. Burgundy is very easy to style and investing in a roll neck in this colour will definitely pay off. It'll look great underneath an overcoat but can also be dressed down and worn with jeans and Chelsea boots. If you want to go a little more formal, swap out the jeans for a pair of tailored trousers and the boots for some formal shoes.


The black and the navy can very easily be described as autumn/winter's answer to the classic basic t-shirt for spring summer. In this day and age, describing something as basic is usually an insult. However, when we're discussing your wardrobe, basic is a synonym of essential. The versatility of black and navy allow you to wear basically anything with them. An all-black look works every time and by completing the look with black jeans and black Chelsea boots, you won't look out of place in the office or the bar after work. If you don't want to look like a mime artist then add some colour with a camel overcoat. Navy is a great alternative to black. A navy roll neck will look great with a pair a jeans or smart grey trousers. You can add some additional texture by finishing the look off with some sand suede boots (just don't make the same mistake as me and wear them to a nightclub).


For some extra insulation, I also picked up a chunky cable knit roll neck. For comfort and warmth, there's nothing better than being hugged by the softness of a good chunky jumper. I must confess that I'm not mad about the feeling of wool on my bare skin so I usually wear a t-shirt underneath it. While this takes away the itchiness, it's also adding another layer so consider this when putting together your outfit. The heavier knits are probably better saved for when the weather gets Baltic and you want to do something outdoorsy, otherwise, you're back to losing that stone in sweat.


So having looked at colour and gauge, it's finally time to have a look at how to wear this classic piece of knitwear. Fear not, I've come up with a few polished outfits for formal and casual occasions alike.




Whether it's casual Friday at work or you're looking for an alternative to a tux for a festive party, a light gauge roll neck is a perfect partner to a two-piece suit. Neutral colours that contrast with the suit are a fairly safe bet but you can also try an all-black outfit here and look very ‘Double-O-7'.


Smart Casual


One of the best things about a roll neck is that you can wear it on its own for a smart but simple look, and you can throw on a blazer or an overcoat with smart trousers and you suddenly have a look that's both formal and comfortable. It's a manly and sophisticated look that's perfect for a date. You can also dial it back and turn up the cool factor by switching out the trousers for jeans and the blazer for a leather jacket.




For an everyday look, you should probably avoid the chunkier knits because you'll probably spend most of your day indoors but you also don't want something so thin that it looks like Under Armour. A form-fitting mid weight jumper is your best bet for day-to-day wear and great for layering. Pair it with a denim jacket (shearling if possible) and a pair of smart looking chinos for something that looks good but doesn't look like you spent hours putting it together. If it gets even colder then you have a few options. A flannel shirt over the roll neck is expert level layering or you can throw a loose fitting coat over the top of the jacket. Don't do both or you'll look like the Michelin Man.


So there you have it, you should now be able to comfortably put together a few different outfits featuring this classic piece of men's knitwear. There's nothing better than a soft, comfortable roll neck to keep you looking cool while you keep out the cold this winter.


Patrick McLoughney