There’s a 1960s mood moving through London this spring. The Fashion and Textile Museum has a small but perfectly curated Swinging London exhibition (until June 2) showcasing the work of the Chelsea Set, including Mary Quant and Terence Conran. It’s the perfect taster for a larger retrospective of Mary Quant opening at the V&A in April that will include unseen pieces from her personal archive. And over at the Gagosian in Mayfair, David Bailey’s black and white portraits from the 1960s are on display (until March 30), including shots of “the Shrimp” – one of the era’s iconic models, Jean Shrimpton. Is it any wonder then that right now the poloneck jumper – one of the key sartorial symbols of that decade – is experiencing a renaissance?
“It’s all about the rollneck,” says Rachael Wood, co-founder of London-based Chinti & Parker. Known for creating brightly coloured standout sweaters, the label has recently launched an Essentials collection of six more subtle designs in 100 per cent cashmere. “Our Essentials cashmere rollneck [£250] has been one of our bestsellers since it launched in September 2018. People are shopping differently now – our customers have been asking us for plain pieces and it felt like the right time to do something more sober.”
Going from statement to stealth always makes good style sense. “It’s not always about print and colour,” says Wood. “You need those pieces that sew everything together. Our parents wore rollnecks – now we’re wearing rollnecks.” Each Essentials sweater is available in a muted palette of oatmeal, slate grey and black, with other colours added on a seasonal basis.
Elsewhere, Scottish knitwear label Esk is embracing “Shrimp”-inspired modernist style with the striped Sophia poloneck (£295). In two-ply cashmere, it is available in navy and ecru, navy and signal red, or black and grey. For extra-fine merino-wool knits, John Smedley’s 30-gauge, slim-fit Catkin rollneck (£155) comes in an assortment of colours and is perfect for layering. Teaming a fine-knit poloneck with a silk blouse and a midi skirt, or simply wearing a high-necked sweater underneath an open-collared shirtdress adds interest to an outfit and is quietly on-trend.
Personally, I’m currently enjoying layering a cotton-jersey poloneck underneath a jumpsuit. To that end, Chloé’s paisley-print design (£430) has an air of late-1960s psychedelia about it, and Prada’s geometric-print jersey poloneck (£695) would look wonderful under a corduroy trouser suit. Joos Tricot is a line created by stylist Natalie Joos when she relocated from New York to Los Angeles and couldn’t find the perfect slim-fit turtleneck – her white and navy nautical stripe version is £390. And for a lesson in minimalist luxury, try The Row’s Dronia jersey top (£880).