How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson

How to dress like a grown up with Shane Watson: Neck-hiding, draft-defying… Hurrah! The polo is back!

  • This autumn the roll neck or polo neck is the key to rebooting your wardrobe
  • Shane Watson look for one with a ribbed neck, make sure it’s slim-fit but not tight
  • UK-based fashion expert advises opting for cream or caramel with black

Occasionally in fashion, something ordinary gets an upgrade ( take trainers) or it stays the same, gets pushed to the front of the stage and overnight becomes the single item that makes everything look better. 

This autumn it’s the latter and the standard roll neck or polo neck is the key to rebooting your wardrobe and making you look like you might have walked off the Celine autumn/ winter catwalk (where it was an almost constant feature, worn under everything from trench coats to sequin cropped jackets). 

You’ve probably got a couple stuffed in a drawer. Otherwise, look for one with a ribbed neck, make sure it’s slim-fit but not tight and you’re in business. Honestly, it’s that simple. No catches. 

This autumn the roll neck or polo neck is the key to rebooting your wardrobe. Celine blazer look is pictured here 

And if you’re a polo neck refusenik, I have two words for you: neck covering; and another two, energy crisis — a high neck is the clothing equivalent of a draught excluder after all. If you want to make a big-shouldered blazer look Celine-chic, wear a black roll neck. If you want to wear a longer skirt and you’re not sure what to put on top, the answer this autumn is a sweater — preferably a relaxed, hip-grazing roll neck. 

To make your old jeans instantly look Parisian woman smart, get a roll neck in black or cream or caramel, add a chunky gold link chain at collarbone height and then an edge-to-edge tweedy jacket.

How do you make a silky bias-cut skirt look wearable in daytime? Roll neck. What do you do to make white jeans look autumnal cool? Roll neck in cream, caramel or navy. 

And should you want to keep wearing your favourite floral midi dress as it gets colder, slip a dark coloured roll neck underneath. (I’m duty-bound to tell you this is an option, although I won’t personally be doing it. There is such a thing as being too covered and, as far as I’m concerned, the roll neck under a dress is that thing.) 

Gigi Hadid opts for a white roll neck jumper with her tan and beige look. She tops it off with dark shades 

But here’s the real point about a roll neck: it’s a sleek, chic underpinning that gives you the confidence to try clothes you otherwise might not try. That leather shirt you think is too Devil Wears Prada for a civilian becomes as elegant as a boucle jacket worn over a roll neck. 

The oversize blazer that makes you feel like an extra in Bugsy Malone looks flatteringly roomy with a neat black roll neck underneath. A military-style jacket that could look a bit fussy and fancy dress worn over a collared shirt is uniform smart paired with a plain polo neck. And if you did happen to have your eye on a leather skirt or a sequin cropped jacket — my plan for brightening up trousers and jeans in the months to come — then a roll neck shunts these flashier, more fashion-forward items into the easy and wearable category because a roll neck is a kind of instant calmer. 


  • Get two: one skinny and one relaxed. 
  • Wear with a pleather shirt.
  • Try cream or caramel with black.
  • Wear a collarbone chain on top 

It’s as simple as a T-shirt, but a lot more sophisticated and it can be as smart (almost) as a little black dress. 

There are three types of roll neck and each serves a different purpose in your wardrobe. There’s the slim, underpinning roll neck which is probably black or off-white — that’s your base for wearing with tailoring. For that, head to Uniqlo and choose one of its ribbed styles (£29.90, or to Cos which does roll necks in lots of colours (£45, Just make sure it’s not sheer or tight. 

Arket does good Lyocell/­ cotton blend roll necks (£25, for those of us who can’t wear wool against our skin and I swear by Zara’s soft viscose styles (£22.99, zara. com). Don’t go for smooth plain cotton; comfy though it is, it washes out quickly and will look like you’re wearing your old skiing top. 

Next is the more relaxed fit roll neck which you can flop over the waistbands of skirts and wide trousers. Pull the neck up around your ears and push up the sleeves for extra fashion front-row styling. 

Try M&S Collection’s merino roll neck in navy or black (£35, or Zara’s oversized roll neck (£29.99) or Uniqlo for the most affordable cashmere (£109.90). 

Finally there’s the puppy polo neck which is thicker, more luxurious and designed to show off at the weekend. An M&S Autograph cashmere roll neck (£95), slightly bigger than your relaxed sweater, will keep you warm as toast and make you feel like one of those women who spends January in the Caribbean.

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