How do you make an outfit interesting? Sure, you could lean on wild patterns, a ‘look-at-me’ colour palette or OTT branding, but there are less obnoxious ways of going about it too.
One of our favourite style hacks for jazzing outfits up in an elegant way is to use texture to our advantage. Admittedly, this tends to be easier in the autumn and winter, which is why a knitted shirt is such a useful garment to have in your summer wardrobe.
A knitted shirt can quickly take an outfit from uninspired to intentional. It draws the eye in and creates a focal point in a way that a regular old Oxford doesn’t. We like to think of it as a bit of a summer style cheat code, and if you don’t already own one, now might be a good time to buy.
There isn’t a huge number of brands producing knitted shirts. This is still a fairly specialist garment rather than something that anyone and everyone is making their own version of. Still, if you know where to look you can find some excellent options, and we’ve rounded up a few of our favourites below.
Why Go Knitted?
We’ve already established that knitted shirts are great for adding a textured element to your summer outfits, but there are other reasons to pick one up too.
For starters, knitted shirts tackle summer smart-casual perfectly. The knitted fabric makes them more relaxed than an Oxford or poplin button-through, but the collar and button front make them far smarter than a regular T-shirt or even a polo.
Knitted shirts are also incredibly easy to dress up or down. You can style one with tailored pants and a pair of loafers for a date of an evening meal out, or you could go in completely the opposite direction and wear one with swim shorts and sandals on vacation. Both are great options.
Knitted Shirt Buying Considerations
You want your knitted shirt to fit much the same as a regular casual shirt, such as an Oxford. The best way to tell if you’ve got it right is to look at the shoulder seams. They should line up neatly with the point at which the arm joins the torso. If they’re higher or lower than this, that’s a good indicator of a poor fit.
Aside from that, the sleeves should end just below the hinge of the wrist, and the hem should fall an inch or two below the belt line.
Knitted fabrics tend to take dye very well, which means they look great in vibrant colours. Earthy and autumnal shades that give a nod to the garments 1970s roots always work well. Think burnt orange, gold and beige.
If in doubt, or if your main focus is versatility, go for a nice neutral option like navy or cream instead.
Like the vast majority of garments in menswear, you can go as frugal or luxurious as you want with a knitted shirt. High-street brands like H&M offer up knitted shirts for less than £40, while premium purveyors of cashmere often sell their versions for upwards of £500.
Both options serve the same purpose from an aesthetic standpoint, the main consideration to make is whether or not you can afford to splash out on the higher quality materials and craftsmanship.
There are plenty of midrange options available too. Check out brands like Portuguese Flannel, Sunspel and Reiss for options that sit somewhere in the middle of the two aforementioned extremes.
The Best Knitted Shirt Brands
Percival is one of our favourite all-bases-covered menswear brands. It’s a one-stop shop for everything from winter outerwear to summer shirts, and it’s one of the few label’s we reckon you could rely on to deck out your entire wardrobe.
Its signature brand of classic-meets-contemporary casualwear means that knitted shirts are very much in its wheelhouse, and in fact it has one of the best selections out there.
Whether you’re looking for something simple and understated or loud and attention grabbing, you’ll find it here.
H&M-owned high-street brand COS specialises in modern minimalism, quirky designs and off-beat, high-fashion-inspired silhouettes.
It has a small selection of knitted shirts to change from, but this does vary from season to season. You can usually expect to find a mix of understated block-colour camp-collar shirts and some more heavily textured versions too.
What is a knitted shirt if not the perfect summer vacation garment? And what is Orlebar Brown if not the perfect summer vacation brand? Suffice to say the British label makes some excellent resortwear, including a number of shirts cut from a stretchy, breathable pique cotton knit.
It’s the same stuff polo shirts are made from, but with the details of a button-through shirt. Check it out if you like the idea of a knitted shirt but would rather not deal with the maintenance of wool.
British premium basics brand Sunspel is one of our go-tos when it comes to immaculately-cut plain tees, luxurious loungewear and upscale underwear.
Don’t take our word for it though – even James Bond is known to have worn the label’s clothing.
Sunspel also has a wide range of knitwear, spanning everything from chunky sweaters to knitted shirts. Check out the Sea Island Cotton Knit Shirt, which is available in four versatile colours and is cut from some of the softest cloth in the game.
Hailing from one of Europe’s major textile capitals, Portuguese Flannel makes some exceptional casual shirts, including the odd knitted one.
The label’s Grandma Knit shirt is a firm favourite, so called because of its heavily patterned and textured doily-style fabric. It’s probably not one for conservative dressers, but if you like your clothing to be a little bit different then this is a fantastic option.
If you’re looking for a knitted shirt that’s a step up from your average high-street version but don’t want to pay hugely inflated designer prices, we’d encourage you to check out Reiss. The British brand has a large selection of knitted polos to choose from, but it does have the odd button-through options available too.
This is probably your best bet if you’re looking for a patterned knitted shirt. There are loads of tasteful yet eye-catching designs to pick from, including stripes, 1970s-style geometric prints and simple plain options too.
If you really want to splash some cash, Tom Ford is about as premium as it gets when it comes to knitted shirts. Made in Italy from 100 per cent silk, the brand offers a few knitted button-ups that will appeal to deep-pocketed shoppers.
Styles vary from season to season, but you can expect to pay upwards of £1,500 if you’re thinking about buying one.
The brainchild of international male model Oliver Cheshire and experienced manufacturer Toby Watkins, CHÉ has the widest range of knitted shirts we’ve seen to date. Quickly becoming a specialist style for the label, its collection spans zip-neck and open-collar polo shirts, short-sleeved button ups and hybrid shirt-cardigans.
Each comes in distinctly retro colourways and patterns yet they remain extremely contemporary thanks to modern accents and cuts.