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Yes, We Shawl

Images + Post By: | November 30, 2011223 Comments

This weekend I saw J. Edgar.  It wasn’t a probing, proactive biopic so much as a feature length Wikipedia entry.  Only in the actual Wiki article there are more hyperlinks for historical context and less bad accents.  But Leo wasn’t all gag in old man drag.  What the film lacked in character depth and editorial decisiveness, it made up for in costuming. As a period piece J. Edgar succeeded aesthetically; there were sleek suits, sharp hats,  slicked hair, austere trenches, all in a stern and convincing silver, grey, and navy colorway.


What really kept me from checking Twitter thoughout the movie, though, were all the handsome and stately sweaters.  As aforementioned on Blogue, knitwear doesn’t really get me wet but this movie was like vintage sweater porn.  I would like to nominate the shawl neck cardigan for a best supporting role. So. Good.  The shawl neck’s shining moment happened while worn by Josh Lucas playing Charles Lindbergh in the scene where J. Edgar is showing off his fancy investigatory skills.  Not to be upstaged by a flock of FBI agents in suits, this cardigan was giving a layered performance: on the surface its all “concerned father of a kidnapped baby” but the subtext is “casual weekend luxury.” I was deeply stirred.

J. Edgar urged us not to forget our history, and the film was ripe with vintage inspiration for the contemporary closet. The 1930s were a good time for collars—wide, fur trimmed, textured.  And the winter is a good time to play with heartier, warmer, and less form fitting up silhouettes.  All this adds up to the shawl neck being no ordinary cable knit; its so very discerning, so “postgraduate.” While this shape definitely has an old boy’s club appeal, it’s by no means boys only.  You know, like cigars and good cognac.  So button up.

With streetwear companies ever broadening their scope, you can find plenty of classic shapes in more casual materials (read: sweatshirt). Shawl necks would look great layered over a bold print button up, worn with bright cotton mini (like vermillion), or simply with skinny jeans.  Accessorize with earrings (bamboo at least two pair) not necklaces. Don’t wanna disturb the collar.  Skip sweaters that have huge brand crests or double breasted buttons; those tend to look overly masculine and be distorted by titties. Here are some good looks: