Winter is Coming
Prepare to wear another layer that you’ll dare to never take off.
Welcome back, friend.
I’m happy to have you here again, and if you’re new, welcome, I hope you enjoy what I have in store for you this week. Below, I’ll share my thoughts on one of the essential pieces of clothing that will help keep you nice and cozy as cooler temperatures arrive.
Also, if you’re planning on staying home for this upcoming holiday, thank you, and I hope you’re able to spend time with family, be it virtually or in person. Stay safe.
Volume is a newsletter about men’s style, brands, and products I enjoy. Every week, I hope you’ll discover new brands, learn about my opinions on dressing well, and find great pieces that you can add to your wardrobe. See past volumes here.
Sweaters vs. Sweatshirts
For this week’s series on How to Dress Well, I wanted to share the answer to one of the questions I had when I first started learning about menswear:
What’s the difference between sweaters and sweatshirts?
Now, it’s the middle of November, and we’ve only just begun to see temperatures drop, so I guess that means we’ve finally entered the season of winter here in California.
Given that, it’s also the time of the year to start adding an extra layer—usually, a sweater or sweatshirt—to your daily work from home attire or to wear on your commute to work, if your job requires you. If you fall into the latter category, I hope you continue to stay safe. I recognize how lucky I and many others are to be able to work from home.
So, what’s the difference then, yes?
In my opinion, it all boils down to the type of occasion. If you’re looking for a dressier, formal option, Sweaters fall into that category because they’re made with luxurious fabrics like cashmere and merino wool. They also tend to be much more fitted, delicately constructed, and knit together to appear as one solid piece. If you look closely near where the arms connect with the torso, you’ll notice a small knit pattern, which is usually a clear signifier of a sweater.
For casual occasions, like heading to the grocery store, Sweatshirts are the go-to option. They are primarily made from cotton, making them perfect for running around while not getting too hot. With their clean, crewneck shape, they’re also easy to wear with just about anything.
Historically, sweatshirts were made for athletic purposes, to help keep athletes warm as they ran or played sports outdoors. If you look closely, you’ll notice that most have a distinct feature just below the neckline’s center, which looks like an upside-down triangle or the letter V. The creator of Russel Athletics initially designed this feature to help capture sweat. Over time, the clothes we wear while working out have significantly advanced in fabrics and moisture-wicking capabilities, but this design has carried on.
If there was one brand that comes up most in my conversations about clothing, it’s Sunspel. Initially, I was exposed to the brand in 2006, when the first James Bond movie starring Daniel Craig, Casino Royale, was released. Having watched all of the previous Bond films, I understood that being James Bond meant two things: 1) He was always the best dressed in every scene. 2) The female characters were attracted to him, partly because of what he was wearing and the rest, his charm.
A few years later, upon rewatching, I wondered who made the clothes worn in the film. After some googling, I discovered Sunspel made the navy polo shirt and a few of the t-shirts. At the time, I couldn’t afford to spend close to $100 for a t-shirt, especially while I was scraping by on Trader Joe’s paychecks. Not to mention, there were no stores nearby where I could go to try on a piece and see if it warranted the price.
It wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco and began working at Unionmade—voted one of the best menswear stores in America by GQ—that I was able to try on the brand for the first time and purchase a few pieces. Honestly, it was a dream come true.
While they’ve been around since 1860, I’d say Sunspel is still flying under the radar, at least in the United States, but they are ready to break out, especially after adding more and more pieces over the years to now offer a complete collection. If you are looking for luxury basics made from premium fabrics, this British heritage brand is for you.
One final thing to note, not all of their products are made in the UK. I was surprised to find a few of the pieces I bought had “Made in Portugal” on their tags, but the quality and durability were still fantastic in my experience. If you look at some of their higher-priced items, like the Sea Island Cotton collection, you’ll find they’re made in their factory in Long Eaton, England.
The Cotton Loopback Sweatshirt by Sunspel
My favorite details
As a proud owner of three of these sweatshirts, I’d say the fabric is lightweight but still heavy enough to keep you warm if layered underneath a jacket or coat. For me, the fit of the sleeves and torso is perfect. The only part where I’ve consistently had an issue is with the collar’s wrinkling after washing. Ironing on a low heat seating can quickly fix that.
The Grey Melange colorway gets used the most in my wardrobe, but I also love having it in Black and Navy. This piece is versatile and makes for an easy choice to throw on in the morning if you need to jump into a meeting that’s a little earlier than preferred.
I highly recommend air drying these sweatshirts after washing. I usually lay mine down on the floor over a towel and let them dry overnight. If you accidentally throw them in the dryer, this will lead to shrinkage as they are 100% cotton.
What to wear it with
You can wear this piece as part of a classic combination of a white t-shirt, blue selvedge denim jeans, and a pair of black 70’s Converse sneakers. Usually, I opt for wearing this sweatshirt indoors without a t-shirt, as I like the way the fabric keeps me warm enough without adding the extra layer.
If you’d like to explore a more elevated combo, I’d recommend pairing this sweatshirt with a pair of slim, white chinos, brown loafers, and an olive green outerwear piece, like this jacket by Barbour.
Another option—if you’re looking for a more muted, tonal outfit—would be combining this sweatshirt with a pair of dark gray cargo pants, a heather grey t-shirt, and white leather sneakers, like this pair from Common Projects.
Where to buy
If you’re itching to pick up one of these sweatshirts, you’re in luck. Sunspel has just announced their Black Friday Sale, with pieces up to 30% off. My favorite colorways are all on sale for $116 (originally $145). I recommend buying now, rather than later, as sizes tend to sell out rather quickly.
Thank you for reading
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Have a Happy Thanksgiving and I’ll see you next Friday.