Knit one, purl one

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Whether replacing a jacket with a chunky cable knit or layering fine cashmere, now is the time to update your winter woollens, says Lee Holmes

When stuck in the depths of a frigid winter, one could argue that one of the few plus points is the attention we ought to devote to our knitwear. Let's be honest, there are few things more reassuring than that warm, comforting layer of wool snuck between you and your coat.

But the style of knit you opt for is up for debate. The folksy patterns of statement knits have, admittedly, been overdone of late, and may well stick in your craw so soon after the festive holidays. But don't consign them to the charity-shop pile just yet; these knits can, when worn with a shirt, tie and suit, lend themselves to urban office living, ensuring you'll get sartorial mileage for a few more months at least.

Chunky knits – and here let's include the cable and fisherman varieties – are the alpha male of the knitwear world. Their very bulk means they can be worn with or without a coat. This is knitwear that very rarely lets you down. Unless, that is, you're foolish enough to want to tuck these knits into your jeans or trousers. Far too hulking for this kind of tomfoolery, you may well end up looking like Simon Cowell.

Right now, the one knit that seems to be garnering all the attention is the humble rollneck. Wear under a leather bomber jacket for Steve McQueen kudos, or slip it under a double-breasted blazer for a smarter European vibe. The rollneck itself should be fine-knit, fitting like a second skin. Depressingly, this means your torso will need to be in tip-top shape, which in turn means you'll need to give that gym-membership card a dusting-down. However, for a more forgiving – read "gym-free" – way of wearing the rollneck, try layering underneath an open-necked shirt and wear with a suit.

Whichever style of knit takes your fancy, don't neglect it. Wash by hand – never dry-clean as the chemicals can strip the yarn of natural oils – dry naturally and fold away in a drawer. And don't forget to throw in some scented sandalwood sachets – the scourge of the pesky wool-loving moth.

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