Get Ready For The Return Of The V-Neck

For years, the crew-neck has been the only collar that would do. Not for long

Most Popular

There's a seminal menswear scene in the oversexed 1992 thriller Basic Instinct (no, it's not the scene you're thinking of), in which Michael Douglas's pervy detective is prowling a nightclub, following Sharon Stone's ice blonde murder suspect. Most notable about it, to men's style obsessives, is not Douglas' character's questionable behaviour, but the super-deep V-neck jumper he is wearing. It's a heavy shade of ditch green and the V reaches down almost to his nipple-line. He wears no shirt or T-shirt underneath.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

Brown houndstooth wool coat, £860, by Paul Smith. Oatmeal Fair Isle wool sleeveless V-neck sweater, £195, by Joseph. Blue denim shirt, £130, by Paul & Shark. Burgundy/white polka dot silk tie, £65, by Peckham Rye

It's possible that this moment launched the unsightly trend for navel-skimming V-neck T-shirts and jumpers that dominated the Nineties and 2000s. The knock-on effect for knitwear being that for the past five years at least, anything other than a crew neck in summer or a roll-neck in winter has been unacceptable. V-necks were all but banished from the shops (cricket and golf departments apart) and you'd have been hard pushed to find one in any reputable designer's collection. Until now.

Most Popular

Grey cashmere V-neck jumper, £750; blue/white striped cotton poplin shirt, £550; navy wool-cotton trousers, £600, all by Louis Vuitton

The first sign of a return started a season ago at Kent & Curwen, where creative director Daniel Kearns, under the watchful eye of part-owner David Beckham, has reinvigorated the label's famous cricket jumper. K&C's ultra-soft navy wool knit with subtle cream trim is the kind of thing to wear to lunch at the weekend.

Camel wool coat, £150; navy wool V-neck jumper, £40; navy cotton trousers, £35, all by Marks & Spencer. White cotton T-shirt, £15, by David Gandy for M&S Autograph

"In 1932, Kent & Curwen purchased a knitwear factory in London to create their first cricket sweaters, a style that would solidify K&C's reputation around the world," says Kearns. "Cary Grant and Errol Flynn started wearing this coveted knitwear, soon making the cricket jumper the must-have item for stylish gentlemen of the Thirties."

The brand's contemporary interpretation of this classic style has instigated today's sea change for the V-neck. "Fashion is a cycle," Kearns says. "For so long, we've had the sweatshirt and crew neck, and now the V-neck has become an antidote."

Navy/cream wool V-neck sweater, £495, by Kent & Curwen. Blue cotton trousers, £130, by Hugo Boss

It's a point echoed by Alessandro Sartori, creative director at Ermenegildo Zegna, who for his first collection has teamed V-neck jumpers and shirts with classic suiting. "The V-neck was out of fashion for so long probably because it was perceived as synonymous with an old style associated with a very dusty look," says Sartori. "I love to see the skin around the neckline and mostly I enjoy the parallels between the V-neck of the jacket and the V-neck of the sweatshirt or jersey. The best way to wear a V-neck is directly on the skin with a beautiful blazer."

Black wool blazer, £820, by Z Zegna. Navy cotton poplin V-neck top, £470; black wool trousers, £860, both by Ermenegildo Zegna

Creative director of Cerruti 1881 Jason Basmajian is equally specific about how to wear a V-neck: "V-necks look great worn alone on skin, especially in fine gauge cashmere or wool-silk. Avoiding a classic sports shirt will ensure you don't look like you borrowed your dad's old golf sweater."