Down with Shetland

There is something about a Shetland wool sweater.  These sweaters have been around since the ninth century, when the Norse settlers brought their sheep to the Scottish Islands of Shetland.  These sweaters are the perfect layer.  The provide a layer of warmth that will stand up to the harshest winters, but that isn’t the best part.  Shetland wool sweaters aren’t bulky at all.  Their weave is dense, but somehow it is extremely lightweight.  It’s like a cooler.

Shetland sweaters go through a brushing technique that is breaks down the wool’s coarse texture.  It gives the sweaters some whiskers, and makes it much easier to break in.  The sweaters are synonymous with Ivy Style, and have been popular in the States for years.

JFK knows what’s up.

The key to a good Shetland sweater is the fit.  The body should be fitted, but not look like a sausage wrapping.  The sleeves should be fitted, and not look blousy.  I prefer a crew neck version in solid colors.  They work perfectly over an OCBD or a plaid sport shirt with jeans, khakis, or fine wool trousers.  With jeans, they work with New Balance runners, driving mocs, or even Alden 986s.  Same goes for khakis.  They dress down wool trousers a bit, but don’t let that stop you.  That’s why I like solid sweaters…they are a bit more dressy.  While they may be a bit on the pricey side, they are a staple for every man’s closet.  Think of them as an adult version of a sweatshirt.

Some excellent options:

From top left:

1. Bill’s Khakis New England Shetland Sweater:  Bill’s always does good work, and their Shetland sweater is no different.
2. J. Press Shaggy Dog Shetland Sweater:  Probably the best in the business.  The Shaggy Dog is iconic, and is as good as it gets.
3. Wallace & Barnes for J. Crew Sutherland Shetland Sweater:  I almost bought this one during the recent J. Crew sale.  I’m kicking myself now.
4. O’Connell’s Scottish Shetland Sweater:  O’Connell’s is a seriously cool store, and they offer a ton of color options.
5. Drake’s London Brushed Shetland Sweater:  Drake’s.  I don’t need to say any more.
6. Andover Shop Shetland Sweaters:  Go for an alternative color from Andover shop.  Be bold.
7. L.L. Bean Shetland Sweater:  You don’t have to spend a ton to get in the Shetland game.  L.L. Bean offers a great cost-conscious option.
8. Pendleton Crew Neck Shetland Sweater:  Pendleton makes excellent flannel, and their Shetland ranks right up there.



  1. BMO'C
    01/15/2014 / 9:57 AM

    Great post. If someone asked me if I had a “uniform” or “go to” outfit, it would, at least in cooler months, ALWAYS include a shetland sweater – and the wilder the color the better. Great over a golf shirt on a cooler Spring evening or under a Barbour when it really cools down.

  2. Alex
    01/15/2014 / 11:50 PM

    The Bean’s sweater is extremely high quality for the price and they come in tall sizes, which is great if you’re tall like me and don’t want to show your lower back everything you reach for something

  3. 01/16/2014 / 9:51 PM

    Curious where the name “Red Clay Soul” came from. I am a potter who uses local red clay from Maine and there is a lot of history and significance to “red clay” and the colonial time community potter.

  4. Zack
    11/05/2014 / 11:49 PM

    Anyone know how the LL bean sweater fits? I’m afraid it will be too baggy

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