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The Sweater & Knit Guide

A guide to knit menswear, from T-shirts and turtlenecks to cable-knit sweaters.

1. Cable-Knit - Knitted with an overlapping cable stitch, the cable-knit sweater is bulky and textured, often showing elaborate, almost sculptural patterns. It originated in the fishing communities of the Isle of Aran, off the west coast of Ireland, where each family had a different and identifiable pattern of sweater. The twisting “ropes” on the sweater were said to imitate ships' ropes or fishing nets.

2. Cardigan - A kind of woolen sweater with or without sleeves, the cardigan opens at the front like a jacket and can be closed with buttons or a zip. It takes its name from James Brudenell, seventh Earl of Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, returning unscathed from the Russian guns. James is said to have disliked pulling woollen undergarments over his well-groomed head.

3. Crewneck - A high, rounded, collarless neckline, the crewneck usually appears on T-shirts and sweaters. Adapted from military uniforms, the crewneck T-shirt was used to absorb sweat under hot wool uniforms, and later used by football players to avoid chafing from shoulder pads.

4. Henley - Beginning as the traditional shirt of rowers in the village of Henley-on-Thames in the U.K., the Henley is now a go-to for weekend casual looks and layering up in winter months. Waffle-knit thermal versions are warm and comfortable in winter; cotton and cotton blends are cool in summer and keep the wearer from overheating.

5. Mock Neck - A mock neck has a high collar that goes all the way around the wearer's neck but is not folded down like a turtleneck. Typically, this type of collar is featured on a knit shirt or sweater.

6. Polo Shirt - The polo shirt caused a tremendous stir at its first appearance, sported by French tennis star René Lacoste at the 1926 U.S. Open. Lacoste began marketing the style commercially in 1933, emblazoning it with an embroidered alligator in memory of his nickname on the court, "Le Crocodile" – the first ever designer logo. Soon, English tennis maestro Fred Perry followed suit with his own line (and his own laurel wreath logo). It was match over: the polo was here to stay.

7. T-Shirt - The T-shirt, a collarless, buttonless, short-sleeved shirt made from cotton jersey, started life as an undergarment. It probably first saw the light of day in the 19th century on the backs of English sailors who would routinely remove their uniform tops when there was hot work to be done – though the American military also claims to have come up with this idea. The T-shirt’s great breakthrough, however, came in the 1950s when first Marlon Brando and then James Dean electrified movie audiences with their iconic outfits, both featuring a snow-white T.

8. Turtle neck - A high, close-fitting, turned-over collar on a garment, the turtleneck is typically featured in a shirt or sweater.