Before they became commercialized, early and authentic Shetland sweaters were made from natural-colored wools. Nowadays, you can get them in almost any color – from basics such as grey and navy, to bolder expressions of bright yellows and reds. They also come in plain and brushed varieties. The plain ones are a bit rough and itchy, whereas the brushed versions are soft against the skin and, because of that beautiful loft, feel a bit warmer as well.
You can wear brushed Shetlands the old and traditional way: with oxford-cloth button-downs, soft-shouldered tweeds, and waxed-cotton Barbours. For something less preppy, try layering them under more modern-looking jackets. Pictured above is my navy Shetland with a maple-colored cycling jacket. The brushed surface in that case is just an easy way to add texture to a very non-preppy ensemble.
If you’re looking to get a brushed Shetland this season, here are some options to consider.
- J. Press ($245): The company that originally popularized the brushed Shetland look. Theirs is called the Shaggy Dog, and it’s become so synonymous with brushed Shetlands that the name is often misused as a generic term for the style (although, true Shaggy Dogs are always from J. Press). Available in a fuller-fitting mainline variety and slimmer-fitting York Street version.
- Drake’s ($190): My favorite accessories label has been slowly turning into a full menswear line with shirts, sport coats, and even knitwear. Their brushed Shetlands come in solid colors and stripes. Certain to be well-made, given Drake’s standards.
- Ralph Lauren ($189): Not an authentic Shetland, as it’s not actually made from Shetland wool, but close enough. The touch of cashmere will make this feel a bit softer.
- William Fox and Sons ($180): Brushed Shetlands in slightly more unusual designs, from Nordic patterns to mocknecks. Just don’t get a short-sleeved sweater. That’s terrible.
- Howlin by Morrison ($170): A Belgian knitwear brand offering traditional styled knits targeted at younger customers. Their brushed Shetlands feel a bit more delicate than J. Press, but they also cost nearly a hundred bucks less. Available at Independence and Unionmade.
- Wood Wood ($135): Simple, basic, and in what I think is the most versatile color. The label at the hem can probably be removed with a seam ripper.
- Shetland Woollen Co. ($125): Brushed not once, not twice, but three times, these sweaters look like the knitwear equivalents of cotton candy. Easily the most textured of all the options mentioned here.
- Harley of Scotland ($125+): A knitwear brand worn by the blogger behind Heavy Tweed Jacket, which is a good enough endorsement for me. Available at Orvis, Unionmade, and Bahles.
- Jamieson’s ($110): Not actually made from Shetland wool, and not that shaggy, but well-made, a bit fuzzy, and nicely affordable.