Boys' Sweaters: V-Neck

Figure 1.--The V-neck sweater appeared when British schoolboys began wearing neckties in school collars with soft collared shirts, replacing the traditional Eton collar.

Some pullover sweaters are made with a "V" front. They are some of the most commonly worn sweater styles. These are generally designed to be worn with ties, the "V" allowing the ties to be seen. Most school sweaters are "V" neck.


The "V"-neck sweater is one of the most recent styles to develop. I do not recall seeing "V"-necks until the 1920s. This is primarily because there was no need for a "V" neck until boys began wearing neck ties with soft collars, replacing the rather uncomfortable looking Eton collar

The "V"-neck had declined in popularity during the 1990s as schools began dropping the necktie requitrment. In additiin, many schools began turning to less expensive and often more colorful sweat shirts.


In fact it did not make good sence making "V"-necks as the front collar opening allowed body heat to escape. The "V"-neck is purely a design inovation to better display a tie, primarily the boys school tie. The basic design was very similar, a big "V" cut out of the front of the sweater.


The V-neck was primarily a style for school wear. Most English schools required ties and many still do. It was, as a result, probably the most widely worn style of sweater in England. As a result, I think parents and boys were acusyomed to this style and purchased it even if it was not to be worn with a tie.

Figure 2.--While school sweaters were mostly grey, V-necks were also made in other colors for home wear.

Most "V"-necks were long sleeve sweaters. Some were made in the sleeveless style, but they were not nearly as common.

"V"-neck sweaters have little or no decoration and a standard flat weave. Some schools, mostly private schools, added trim in the school colors. A few schools in the 1980s began adding the school logo or name, but always in small descret script.


The primary color for most "V"-neck sweaters was grey, primarily because it was so widely worn at schools. Few schools adopted colored sweaters, although a few did use blue and a variety of other colors. Many schools by the 1960s began adding colored trim in the school colors to the "V" neck line and wrist cuffs. Less common was a color waist band.


The initial "V"-neck sweater was worn by boys. Girls schools, ever imitating the boys' schools, soon began adopting the necktie, at first worn with a blouse an jumper-style dress. Some schools eventually adopted the "V"-neck sweater as well. This was particularly common as prep schools, particuloarly coed schools.

Figure 3.--While most V-necks were grey, some were also made in blue and other collars.

Neck Tie

Neckties as we now know them are a relatively recent fashion accesory. The primary modern male neckwear can be be traced to the 17th-century cravat. As with so much of male fashion, the style is military in origin. Ties have only been worn by boys since the 1920s. They were extensively worn in the 1920s-40s as boys routeinly wore suits or blazers to school and to a variety of events and activities that now would call for casual clothes. In our more casual modern era, many American boys rarely wear ties and may not, in fact, learn to tie a knot until their teens. Usually British boys learn to handle a tie at an earlier age.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: May 20, 1999
Last updated: September 4, 1999