Polo match: roll with it this winter and swap shirt and tie for a stylish skivvy

Polo match: roll with it this winter and swap shirt and tie for a stylish skivvy

You no longer need to be an underworld villain to don a turtleneck with tailoring. For A/W 2015, the humble knit, which boasts four synonyms in the English language alone, was championed by luxury titans from Berluti to Bally, as suiting and separates were teamed with roll-neck jumpers of varied gauges.

The skivvy, turtleneck, roll-neck or polo neck, as it is disparately known, graduated from the standby of naval sailors and menial workers in the late 19th century to become a sartorial symbol of the 20th century intelligentsia - adopted most notably by French philosopher Michel Foucault. Serge Gainsbourg gave it the beatnik stamp of approval in the 1960s, just as Sammy Davis Jr, Paul Newman and Marlon Brando took it to Hollywood, before Apple boss Steve Jobs elevated the staple skivvy (his by Issey Miyake) to cult status in the 1990s, also validating a subculture of tie-less professionals in Silicon Valley.

This season, Margaret Howell showed fine merino skivvies peeping out from under shirt collars, while JW Anderson explored a more avant-garde incarnation in the form of detachable ribbed chokers, along with zip-up ski skivvies finished with a dangling, retro-issue geometric toggle. Anderson may have flashed us back to 1970s East Village bohemia for his neo-transatlantic hipsters, but on most catwalks the turtleneck received a more straight-laced redux, perfect day-to-night attire for the busy creative. Offering a more casual, albeit polished, alternative to the shirt and tie, the roll-neck comes in many effortless guises, from plains to intarsias, but do opt for merino, alpaca or cashmere blends, as cotton jersey tends to lose pigment and shape.

And for those debating the manliness of the turtleneck, it’s impossible to deny the masculinity of Steve McQueen in the 1968 American thriller Bullitt. Frank Bullitt famously paired his with a tailored blazer or shoulder gun holster; a look that’s recently been reprised by Daniel Craig in the latest James Bond film, Spectre. Enough said.

As originally featured in the September 2015 edition of Wallpaper* (W*198)

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