2020 Knitwear

Simon Crompton on the Integral Collar Jumper

By Simon Crompton

Jul 13, 2022

Simon Crompton on the Integral Collar Jumper


Is it a jumper? Is it a polo shirt? Menswear journalist Simon Crompton investigates.


 I have a problem. Don't snicker - it's not that kind of problem.

It's a menswear problem. Far more superficial. The issue is I have a long neck, and round-necked (also known as crew-neck) sweaters aren't that flattering on me. It's not too bad from the front, but from the side it just looks gawky. If you were being cruel, like a vulture with an Adam's apple. 

I can wear a shirt, of course, but I don't always want to wear a shirt. Sometimes I want to wear a t-shirt. You know, at the weekend, for the psychological implication of change. To relax. 

So knitwear with a collar - what are my options? A hoodie, perhaps, but mostly that's too young. A roll-neck, certainly, but only in winter. I’ve never liked half-zips. And a mock-neck feels, I don't know, eccentric. So I'm left with the polo-collared sweater - the one with a knitted cutaway collar and two or three buttons down the front. They're lovely, and do the job. Drake's sells some nice ones. 

But I can't only wear that at the weekend. My sense of creativity can't handle it. It'd be like always wearing the same jeans, or sneakers. Where's the freedom? Oh, the agonies of taking your clothing too seriously. 

A few years ago I found a wonderful alternative. It was in the Margaret Howell sale shop, on Margaret Street (I know, weird right?). It was a crewneck sweater with a collar sewn on top, in the same material. As if that were the most natural thing in the world. It was in cotton, and the fit was too boxy, but I bought it anyway and still have it. Margaret Howell no longer do them, unfortunately. 

And then this season, I found this one from Drake's. They call it the Integral Collar Jumper, which sounds awfully technical. But it's the same thing. The fit isn't as blousy as my other one, and the Donegal-type flecked wool is great. Available in dark navy and rich green. The collar has to be worn up, I think. If you wear it down, it looks like you're wearing a wool shirt under an identical wool sweater. Like some kind of bizarre twinset. But worn up, it's clear the collar is part of the whole. 

Not all collars on these types of sweaters work that well. They either collapse too easily or the points stay rigid, poking you in the chin. What you want is a collar that stays up at the back, but folds down gracefully at the front, just alighting on your collar bones. And that's what the Drake's one does. As shown here, in these lovely pictures. 

So, problem solved - I now have two collared options for the weekend. What a relief. Now I just have to see the doctor about that other thing. 


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