There is good news for those of us looking for an alternative to the usual coat this season: the pullover is making a big comeback. Following the vogue of the deconstructed cardigan last year, a new winter piece has emerged. On most runways, pullovers clung on to the models’ skinny shoulders, and cardigans were purposefully worn mid-back like a shawl. But before we get deeper into the latest trends, the pullover deserves a brief introduction.
Wool kept the Vikings warm. They used it for the sails of their boats as well as for clothes, and it could be that their raiding expansion from Norseland to other parts of Europe was driven in part by the need for more pastureland for their sheep. It was probably the Vikings who introduced woollen clothing into Britain and other nations. These garments contained lanolin oil in their natural fibres and were essential for men at sea. The fisherman’s sweater was hand-knit at home until the dawn of the 19th century, a tough and practical garment providing warmth and protection. It would be long before the garment would be produced and sold commercially.
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The pullover as we know it today was largely popularised in the 1950s when menswear, during its progressive development from formal to casual, was broken down into transitional pieces. Instead of a 3-piece suit, the more colourful and informal sports jacket was widely adopted, accompanied by more relaxed trousers, shorts and placketed knit shirts. The ‘sweater’ became available in many styles, from button-down cardigans to V-neck vests, and was worn in place of the blazer as outerwear.
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Fast-forward to the fall-winter 2017 season. Both for men and women, we are witnessing the pullover’s return to its roots, but with a sophisticated twist. The new style features an oversize silhouette, often accompanied by a drop-shoulder seam, extra-long sleeves and very large buttons. Worn as outerwear, it can be paired with a robust waistcoat on top. The traditional women’s winter coat can easily be replaced by the wool dress, warm and elegant and good for layering options.
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While stripes and checks are nothing new on sweaters, this season they are larger than ever. The yarns are also thicker than ever before, with embellishments like fluttering colourful ribbons or shiny sequins. There are still remnants of the deconstruction trend, so popular in recent years. We see components of the pullover broken down and featured individually: a turtleneck with just front and back panels, or one or two thick sleeves worn as arm warmers, in a contrasting shade. And if you simply cannot abandon your coat, grab a bomber jacket, and make it a black, show-stopping one.
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