It’s that time of year again: the post-Christmas sales are well underway, and there’s a distinct chill in the air that requires us to wrap up warm before facing the elements.

Winter is many things when it comes to fashion. On the one hand, it’s a time of year when we get to crack out our favourite full-length overcoats, our sturdy stomping boots and a stylish cashmere scarf. Unfortunately, It’s also a time when we are reminded of one of the most pervasive and irritating horrors of modern male fashion: the ‘ironic’ woolly jumper.

A Seasonal Crime Against Good Taste

I’m unsure as to exactly when these knitted monstrosities first became de rigueur for the 21st century man, but it feels as though for the past five years or so – as soon as the first chill of winter hits the air – the shops and streets are filled with the ugliest, most garish and appalling examples of this item of clothing. Young men (and, distressingly, young men who would possibly never otherwise commit such a sartorial sin at any other time of year) will parade the workplace, bars and restaurants of our towns dressed in poorly-made knitwear, emblazoned with kitsch patterns, stitched scenes of ugly winter wonderlands, and all other manner of designs which should never find their way off the front of a Christmas card.

So commonplace have these items of clothing become, the ironic jumper has overtaken – in the minds of those with an inch of fashion sense – the novelty tie as the cardinal sin of menswear… and this ongoing nonsense desperately needs to go the way of the dinosaur.

The Single Exception…

It’s the strongly-held opinion of A Man Refined that the only time it is truly acceptable to wear a festive jumper of any sort is in the following scenario: your own grandmother has painstakingly knitted you the item of clothing with her own aged hands, and she’s invited you round to her house for tea with the hope that you’ll try it on for her.

While this situation makes the wearing of a childish knitted jumper perfectly acceptable, it’s probably for your own good that said jumper is neatly folded and put away in your closet once you’re home… and left there until the same scenario arises once more the following year.

How Has This Happened?

The main issue I have with the rise of this kind of jumper in men’s fashion isn’t necessarily to do with their inherent ugliness – after all, there are plenty of items of men’s clothing which regularly crop up on the high street and catwalk alike which I’d never dream of wearing myself – the collared t-shirt, for example. My primary gripe with this abomination against fashion is the noun which is often used to excuse the wearing of such a thing: irony.

The suggestion is that even the most ardent wearers of ugly jumpers are aware that they look stupid and unstylish, and yet, that’s partly their reason for wearing them. So unsure has the general man become of his own choices, he’s willing to sabotage his own appearance – and for what? To appear funny? To hide a level of self-consciousness and uncertainty in his appearance? If this is the case, then the situation is direr than it perhaps first seems.

As we often claim on A Man Refined, sartorial elegance and great style come from confidence and self-assuredness; that unmistakable swagger that comes naturally when a man knows that he looks at his best. The ironic jumper is about as far away from this sense as it is possible to be.

Possible Alternatives

Without a doubt, the best possible alternative to the cringe-inducing embarrassment of a kitsch winter jumper would be anything else. However, it’s perfectly understandable to want to add a splash of colour and personality to your suit or outfit, especially if you’re attending a party or similar office function this 2018. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways of achieving this without potentially humiliating yourself with something unthinkably unattractive.

If you’re wearing a suit to your gathering, add a bit of personality with the inclusion of a coloured or patterned pocket square, tucked rakishly into the jacket’s top pocket. If you want to make it a little more seasonal, opt for one featuring classic colours or prints, we are great admirers of Drakes, click the link below for something a little more outlandish. A similarly coloured tie would also achieve a similar effect (but please, no cartoon character embroidery). https://www.drakes.com/green-mythical-animal-print-cotton-blend-pocket-square

Remember: There’s never any need to look anything less than effortlessly stylish. This is as true for the months of January – March as it is for the rest of the year; so go out, have fun and be merry in the cold weather, but please do so looking your best.

Benjamin Norris

Benjamin Mitrofan-Norris is an author and journalist from Bristol, England, specialises in luxury lifestyle writing and wine reviews. He is a lover of life's finer things and has a particular fondness for Alsatian and Eastern European wines, which he fell in love with during his three years working in Budapest.
Benjamin Norris

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