Apparel Trend Alert: Shawl Collars

Popular in retail right now, shawl collars add a classic profile to sweaters, cardigans and outerwear. Their roots date back to Victorian-era smoking jackets, and even showed up on motorcycling sweaters. But in the past few decades, you were more likely to find a shawl collar sweater in your Grandpa's closet than on the retail racks.

That has changed in the past few years, as retail entities such as Banana Republic, J.Crew and Ralph Lauren are featuring shawl collars in chunky wool, cord knit and printed sweaters. The look has gained traction as a popular preppy or athletic style for both men and women. Shawl sweatshirts also offer a unique and relaxed look. Shawl collar garments work well with a shirt and tie for men, while women can pair them with leggings or jeans for a sophisticated yet laid-back style. The right piece can also be worn as an alternative to a fitted jacket or blazer.

While the shawl collar continues to be popular in retail, we are seeing it slowly trickle down to the promotional apparel industry, as evidenced in the new Lilac Bloom Ava cardigan sweater offered by Tri Mountain.  It's a great looking staple piece that has a sophisticated air about it.

When it comes to decoration, consider the piece the shawl collar is on. A sweater or cardigan deserves a tasteful, tone-on-tone embroidered logo. A more casual item can feature a bolder screen print. Either way, expect to see more shawl collar items in the future.