At a glance they might seem safe and simple, but don’t be fooled because white sweaters are your wardrobe’s secret weapon.
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The white jumper is one of those staples that's often forgotten about, because let's be fair, no one really thinks too much about jumpers. They're usually just something you throw on when the weather looks a little grey, and when it comes to colours, most men will go for the darker, more flattering colours.In the admittedly small world of jumpers, white is kind of a risk.
It can stain easily, you can't wash it with other colours, and although black, brown and green jumpers seem to be the safer options sometimes something a little lighter can really bring some interest to your look. The best jumpers are versatile ones, and white jumpers really can be that. We'll go over the top ways you can style your white jumper, as well as how to keep it in good shape and avoid you going back to the darker tones for this season.
The White Jumper
White jumpers, like most jumpers, come in all shapes, sizes, materials and tone. You can go for a striking bright white, or a more versatile off white, depending on your skin tone and your personal style. Bright white has a more intense, stand out look, but requires a little more care to keep the colour looking its best, where as off white is closer to a cream colour and so gives a softer overall look.
It can be surprising what colours are actually categorised as white, and lighting has a lot to do with how certain shades are seen. Although generally it's pretty easy to see what's white and what's not, look at the various tones of 'off white'. You might be thinking 'Yeah? And?' but this really just shows that despite white seeming like something that wouldn't necessarily suit everyone, there are so many different tones that there's really no one that can't pull off this colour.
If you're looking for something to keep you from freezing in the winter months then the material of your jumper is obviously the most important thing. Cheap materials like polyester and acrylic are handy for lightweight jumpers that you're not spending a lot of cash on, but when it comes to jumpers you want around for the whole of autumn and winter, it's a good idea to invest in quality materials.
Wool is one of the most well known materials for warm clothing and comes in a few different textures depending on which animal it came from. The most common is obviously from sheep, with angora coming from rabbits and cashmere and mohair from goats. Whatever type you choose though you still end up with a wooly jumper that's perfect for the winter months and when your heating breaks down.
High end, fine wool is softer, and usually fairly pricey, where as courser wool tends to be mixed with other materials to give it a softer finish, and can vary in expense. Depending on your budget you might want to go for a mix of materials or an 100% wool design. Both will serve you well, but getting a full wool jumper has the benefit of being that bit warmer, and is generally more hardwearing.
Whether you're going for cashmere, angora or just good old fashion sheep's wool, a wooly jumper tends to become the focus point of your outfit, and it's generally best to keep your look understated and clean. If you're going for a thin, more elegant design made from something like cashmere, try keeping your outfit streamlined and in a more smart casual side.
A pair of slim fit grey trousers will match well with your white jumper, creating a subtle contrast that keeps the outfit neutral and smart. Finish off with some black suede boots and a accessorise with a simple watch, and you'll have a sophisticated smart casual look that's great for the everyday.
For a less elegant look, and one that will go great with a more traditional chunky wool knit, swap the trousers out for a pair of raw denim jeans in a slim fit and slip on some hardwearing lace up boots. A thick wool jumper is usually going to be a little courser than something like cashmere, so it's best to layer a cotton T-shirt underneath to stop it from being too rough against the skin.
How to Wash a Wool Jumper
The thing that can put people off getting a wool jumper in the first place - washing it. There's always the horror stories of people washing their jumpers the wrong way, or god forbid throwing it in the tumble dryer, and ending up with a action man sized garment, but there are ways to clean up your clothes without shrinking them in the process. Here's some simple guidelines on how to wash your woollens.
- If you've got mud or soil on your jumper, leave it to air dry and brush off as much of it as you can with a soft brush.
- Soak your jumper in cold water for a few hours to prevent shrinking
- Use a small amount of detergent specifically designed for wool. Other detergents can be too harsh.
- Don't rub the wool when you're washing it, as this can cause breakage. Instead just leave it to soak.
- Air dry it by lying it on a flat surface to prevent any stretching
Turtle Neck Jumpers
There's a fair bit of unjust hate surrounding turtle neck jumpers, or polo neck jumpers as they're often referred to, and this probably stems from the fact that it's got a bit of history to it. Sometimes history is hard to forget. Yes, turtle necks were a favourite of Steve Jobs, Alan Partridge and a good amount of weirdos at the bus stop, but they've evolved, and with that evolution we've learnt some key ways to make them work.
- Don't get a thin one.
- Don't wear one with a flat cap, fedora or small, round sunglasses
That's really the best advice we can give you on this. Don't go for a skin tight, body binding turtle neck jumper, because that's where all the hate comes from, and it's just so much harder to make a jumper work when you can see all your arm muscles through it. Instead, stick to chunkier pieces that give off a relaxed, casual look, and avoid making you look like you're going to read out some of your new poetry.
Once you've got the fit sorted out you can move on to styling. Overall, just like with wool jumpers, it's best to keep things simple. No need for fancy embellishments, your bold neckline is doing enough already. Instead, stick to minimal layering, and and keep the colours light to stick to the understated, laid back look.
Light blue jeans go great with white jumpers, with the colours similar enough in tone to create a clean vibe, but different enough not merge into one another. Match the outfit with some light brown boots, sticking to a matt material like suede if you can, just to keep the look understated, and if it's really biting out there try a simple navy coat to layer up with.
We wouldn't suggest trying to incorporate your chunky woollen knit into a smart outfit, but you can achieve a smart casual look with a little bit of styling and a good pair of chinos. Try matching a slim fit pair of navy chinos with your jumper, finishing off with some black leather boots and a classic trench coat. This combination is understated, yet the streamlined pieces complemented with the chunkier jumper give a nice balance.
So yes, cardigans aren't exactly the same as jumpers, but they're practically cousins, and they have the same function, so they're good enough for us. Some people can be wary of cardigans, mainly due, like turtle necks, to the connotations they have with the er, less than sophisticated members of the public. This doesn't mean they're not a good choice though, and with so many different styles and materials to choose from, a good white cardigan can go with a whole load of outfits.
Now we'd recommend not going for a pure white cardigan here, as that's just going to look too intense. A beige toned off white will be more versatile and generally have a more subtle finish. Because white is such a versatile colour you generally don't have to worry too much about how you dress it up, and whether you pair it with light or dark colours you'll still end up with a clean, balanced look.
White cardigans are best suited for a more preppy look, and you can create a summery, laid back vibe with some simple pieces and a bit of colour co-ordination. Try matching a pair of navy chinos with a simple striped T-shirt, throw your cardigan over the top and finish off with some navy boat shoes to bring the outfit together.
Your Quick Guide on How to Pull Off a White Jumper
- Check out the different shades of white and see which one works best for you, whether it's a blue toned off white or a pure, bright white.
- If you're looking for a warm jumper, try out a 100% wool design. Different animals produce different wools, and wool mixes can produce softer, more wearable jumpers.
- When you're washing a wool jumper, make sure to hand wash it, and only use detergent specifically made for wool.
- Turtle necks can be pulled off, but try and go for a heavy knit design rather than anything too close fitting, and keep your outfit casual.
- Go for a preppy look if you're dressing up a white cardigan, and try and go for an off white colour if you can.
On That Note
So, we didn't teach you how to knit a jumper of your very own, or make a mock shirt jumper look good (because that's impossible), but we hope we gave you at least a little advice on how to make this less conventional design work for you. A good white jumper can be incorporated into a lot of looks, from casual to smart casual, and really bring out a clean, bold, and interesting vibe to your outfit.
Dress it up with smart leather boots, or keep things laid back with some boat shoes. Go for cheap jumpers in an acrylic material, or splash out on an expensive cashmere one. Whatever choice you go for, white jumpers can work in a number of ways, and it's always good to have at least one stored away in your wardrobe.