You can’t exactly describe the shawl collar as a spring 2014 fashion trend simply because the style marked its return under the spotlight nearly five years ago. Further more, the shawl neck acts as an extension for what is a modern men’s curated wardrobe, being more of a statement piece rather than a mere fleeting fashion movement. But it’s the shawl collar’s unexpected transition from the fall / winter wardrobe, to the spring/summer one that represents the true novelty of the season.

Read on to find out what exactly defines a shawl collar and how to properly introduce the timeless piece amongst your wardrobe’s basics this season.

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shawl neck cardigan men

The shawl collar.

Arguing why a shawl collar belongs in your closet wouldn’t make any sense if the style we’re referring to wouldn’t actually ring a bell with you. So let’s start with the basic definition:

A shawl collar (also knows as a shawl neck) is a collar rolled back in a continuous and tapering line along the surplice neckline of a garment. The collar “folding back on itself” creates a curved effect that can stop anywhere from the breastbone down to the waist (particualry on cardigans).

In terms of garments, the shawl neck can as easily be describing a blazer, a cardigan (button up the front) or a sweater (no buttons). The spring 2014 runways were particularly keen on reintroducing the shawl collar cardigans as smart spring and summer alternatives, and seeing how we’re talking mostly about warm temperatures and light layers, the decision makes total sense.

Mens shawl collar for spring 2014
Shawl collar cardigan at Giorgio Armani S/S ’14

The shawl neck cardigan: a spring staple.

How would a shawl neck cardigan be working for spring? How is this style any different from its fall interpretation? Suffice to say that the shawl neck cardigan intended for the warmer months should be lightweight, so do opt for lightweight fine-gauge knits and leave the chunky versions for winter. Seek them in neutral shades – navy, gray, green, blue – to ease up the day-to-night transition.

Just as much as fall, spring dressing is all about layers, so think of the shawl neck cardigan as the perfect way to dress up a casual look, to add some colour to a monochromatic outfit, to face the transitional spring weather in style. A modern cut and a fashionable pattern, along with the right styling techniques will allow you to successfully reinvent your wardrobe this spring.

Mens shawl collar for spring 2014
Mens shawl collar at Missoni S/S ’14

How to style the shawl neck cardigan.

As previously mentioned, the shawl neck cardigan is perfect for spring layering either for those slightly crisp mornings, for the chillier nights, or for those days when the weather decides to be a dab unfriendly. You can choose between the classic button-down style, or the more modern versions introduced on the runway that are significantly longer and tied at the waist.

  • Wear them over a basic printed t-shirs for a casual feel, having the shawl neck cardigan act as a cool replacement for a sports jacket;
  • Enhance their elegant attitude with perfectly tailored pants in complementary colours, keeping the look minimal and polished;
  • Style them with printed loafers, or modern monk-strap shoes, going sockless for an overall laid-back outfit.

Mens shawl collar for spring 2014
Mens shawl collar at Giorgio Armani and Daks, S/S ’14

  • Don’t be afraid to pair the shawl neck cardigan with a pair of shorts, either casual or tailored;
  • Take the look from laid-back to sophisticated with a luxe pair of trousers for a tone-on-tone outfit;
  • Infuse the shawl collar cardigan with individuality by carefully accessorizing; sunglasses and beanies for day, silk shawls and  elegant loafers for night.

Mens shawl collar for spring 2014
Mens shawl collar at Michael Bastian and Corneliani, S/S ’14

  • The safest way to sport the shawl neck cardigan remains a minimalist, colour coordinated outfit;
  • Add a dash of smart-casualness to your outfit with a slim-fitted shawl collar cardigan;
  • Think of this particular garment as a bridge between casual and sophisticated, and do mix pieces from both worlds by making sure the overall look appears perfectly balanced.

Mens shawl collar for spring 2014
Mens shawl collar at Giorgio Armani and Gucci, S/S ’14

Key pieces.

Below you can find just a small selection of versatile, shawl collar basics (both cardigans, and sweaters) that everyone could wear with confidence this spring.

Mens shawl collar for spring 2014
Shop the style: Reiss Malta Cardigan with Contrast sleeve at Reiss; Rag & Bone Colton’ Shawl Pullover at Farfetch; Burberry London Shawl-Collar Cashmere-Blend Sweater at Mr Porter; Lanvin Loose Knit Cardigan at Farfetch.

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