The Fine Art of Taking off a Sweater

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Recently, a reader posed to me the following question: My husband likes to remove his crew neck sweaters (and crewneck t-shirts) by grabbing it by the neckline and pulling the sweater up over his head by holding the neckline.  It seems to me this procedure tends to stretch the neckline out of shape.  Please advise me on how a man normally removes their crewneck sweater?

Here, in dizzying heights of style philosophy, we sometimes get lost in the minutiae of abstract detail – dissecting the nuances of pick stitching on a bespoke suit jacket lapel, for example.  In the real world though, it’s often the more mundane and practical issues that dominate one’s daily routine.  The straightforward question above is a wonderful example of this truth.

The question of properly removing a garment such as a sweater is not an insignificant matter.  Particularly if, say, you posses one made of expensive cashmere.  In truth, this question expresses one of those universal concerns that deserve a little attention.

As noble as that may sound however, I am afraid this is a debate with no clear-cut answer. There really is no gentle way to remove a crewneck sweater.

Ultimately the sweater has to come over your head and get yanked off your arms.  Something somewhere along the line is going to get pulled, stretched or twisted.  I tend to pull a sweater over my head from the rear, so that once off, the sweater is in front of me still on the arms. At that point I just slide one arm out and then the next.  I’m sure there no shortage of opinion on my technique.  It’s just how I take of my sweaters, end of story.

I do usually grab at the neckline, but once the bottom hem is in range I pull it off from there.  Like my reader, I prefer to avoid the potential of stretching out the neck more than necessary.  Still, it is going to happen to some extent and I’ve made peace with this inevitability.

Some men pull an arm out of the sweater while still wearing it – sort of like how women can mysteriously change tops without ever removing an outer garment.  Once you have a free arm inside the sweater, you gently work the sweater over the head and then extract the remaining arm. If the material is particularly delicate, I suppose this is the least disruptive way of removing the garment, but I find it a bit tedious.

Others push the front of the jumper up over their face and behind the neck, so that they can sort of pull it off as though removing a coat.  Of all methods, I find that the most overly complicated.

Most of my sweaters are fairly hearty and can stand up to the grab-the-neck-and-pull method, but ultimately the best way to judge one’s technique is to look in a mirror and see how well your sweaters are faring.


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Chris Hogan, an association executive based in Washington, D.C., blogs at OffTheCuffDC.com. A lifelong interest in style and clothing led to sales and management positions at several Ralph Lauren stores and an active wardrobe consulting practice

Comments

  1. Hermes says:

    i find the best technique for removing a jumper is to cross yours arms over and grab the side of the jumper towards the back (so your right hand hasn the left hand side and your left hand has the right side) then simply pull the garment off over the back of your head. Simple.

  2. Chris says:

    Hermes – that is one technique I have not been able to master. It’s probably a lack of coordination at some level, but it never seems to work for me. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Alan B. says:

    Interesting topic. On a lighter note, have you ever seen the Three Stooges episode in which Curly couldn’t get his sweater off? Moe had to use a crowbar, then scissors. Oh yes, a couple knocks on the head as well!