Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewFor guys who want to look sharp and feel confident, there are few staples of menswear more versatile than the v-neck sweater — and few fabrics as perfectly suited for it as merino wool.

In this post I’ll outline what makes for a good v-neck and explain the (many) factors that make Uniqlo’s merino wool sweater one of the best value vees on the market.

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Review

What to Look for in a V-Neck Sweater

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Review
“Could this sweater BE any baggier?”

(And What to Avoid)

My girlfriend and I have been watching reruns of Friends lately. The show holds up surprisingly well considering how much sitcoms have changed in the 20+ years since it debuted, with one notable exception: the fashion.

The v-neck sweater has been a staple of menswear for decades, and the men of Friends sport them all the time. Unfortunately, the style of the ’90s was practically the opposite of what we’d consider fashionable today.

The guys wore suits, shirts and sweaters that appeared to be at least two sizes too big, which now look ridiculous by modern-day standards.

How a V-Neck Sweater Should Fit

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Review
Your v-neck should fit the way Daniel Craig’s does. (Which is to say, perfectly.)

Unlike our friend Mr. Bing, you don’t want a sweater that drapes off your shoulders, arms and chest like a judge’s robe.

Instead, you want something trim that hugs your body without being too tight or making you look like a jelly roll.

In my review of the Banana Republic Luxe Touch Polo I used Daniel Craig as an example of how your polo should fit, and I have to go back to the well for v-neck sweaters, too. (What can I say? The man can wear a shirt.)

Check out the picture here of Craig while he was promoting Skyfall. As he so often does, he’s putting on a clinic in how your clothes should fit:

Hugs the Body

The sweater fits closely to his body in the shoulders, chest, waist and sleeves. The result is a strong, masculine silhouette, rather than Chandler’s amorphous moo moo above.

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewHigh Arm Holes

The arm holes of the sweater are cut high, almost up to the arm pit.

When combined with the tightness of the sleeves, this leaves space that helps differentiate between the arm and the torso. (Again, check out Chandler: there’s barely any daylight between his body and arms.)

Perfect Length

(and Zero Paunch)
Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewThe bottom of the sweater falls just below his waist, where the elastic band at the bottom keeps it sitting perfectly.

There’s just enough extra fabric there to allow him to turn, bend over and sit without ripping through his sweater, but not so much that it gathers around his waist and give the impression he has love handles (or worse — the dreaded male paunch).

Admittedly, it’s easy for Daniel Craig’s clothes to fit him perfectly: they’re probably chosen and purchased for him by a stylist.

Fortunately for those of us who haven’t quite reached double-O status, you don’t need the entire UK treasury department at your disposal to get a sweater that fits just as well.

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Why the Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Stands Out

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Review
Uniqlo provides a sweater that’s James Bondesque. (It’s up to you to provide the muscles.)

Bond on a Budget (Again)

While I can’t claim to know what brand Daniel Craig is wearing in that photo above, I can say with confidence that with the Uniqlo extra fine merino v-neck, you can achieve a similar look.

I spent years buying (and re-buying, when they inevitably shrunk or ripped) v-necks from other major brands and retailers, but I’ve never stumbled upon one that checks as many boxes as the Uniqlo merino vees.

Material

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewMade from 100% merino wool, the Uniqlo sweaters are soft to the touch and feel good when worn plain, or over top of a button-down shirt.

One word of warning though: these are thin sweaters — don’t expect them to keep you very warm. As Joe over at Dappered has pointed out, this may be a drawback for some, but to me it’s an advantage.

A thinner sweater means you can wear it across three seasons: it’s perfect for layering over a shirt and/or under a jacket in fall; it makes for a warm base layer under a nice chunky cardigan during the depths of winter; and it’s a perfect weight for those transitional days in spring when it’s not quite short-sleeve weather yet.

These sweaters are even thin enough to layer under a suit without negatively affecting the suit’s cut or profile. (And if you’re not sure how a suit should fit, check out this post about how to buy your first suit, which covers everything from how it should fit to what you can expect to pay.)

Thin, But Not Flimsy

These things are surprisingly durable.
Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Review
I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well the Uniqlo merino has held up.

While the material may be thin, there’s nothing cheap-feeling about these.

Considering both their light weight and their light price (more on that below), I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by this. I own three or four different colors now, along with three more of Uniqlo’s extra fine merino cardigans, and I wear the shit out of all of them.

After a few wears I’ll wash them together on delicate and then hang them to dry. After more than a year of this I haven’t had any of them shrink on me (avoiding the dryer obviously helps) or rip at all.

Treat these sweaters well and you could have them for years.

Slim, but not Skinny

Another reason they’re so versatile is the styling. Slim is in right now, but no one wants to look like a sausage stuffed into a merino wool casing — not even one in a perfect shade of blue.

Like Craig’s sweater above, these things strike just the right balance. I’m about 5’9″ and 170 lb, and a medium hugs my body perfectly and cuts a silhouette similar to Craig’s. (Similar, but not exactly the same. I mean, I’ve been working out, but come on: he’s James  F@¢&ing  Bond!)

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewPerfect V Depth

One often overlooked factor important for a good-looking v-neck is the depth of the v itself. Too deep and you’ll look like, well, this guy. Not deep enough and you’ll look like you’re being choked out by your own sweater.

I find the Uniqlo merino wool sweaters strike the perfect balance. When wearing them with a shirt and tie, the v dips low enough that you can see the tie clearly and make out any pattern on it.

But when wearing it on its own, the v comes down just about to my collar bone, revealing my neck but keeping that pesky chest hair well contained.

Easily Available

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewConsidering everything these sweaters have going for them, you might think they’d only be available from some specialty shop or obscure designer.

But Uniqlo has been expanding its North American reach and can be found in your local mall. Plus, its online store has just a $5 flat rate shipping fee and offers the ability to return merchandise (either by bringing it to a store or sending it back), so the perfect vee is basically always at your finger tips.

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewA Ton of Color Options

One more little plus is the number of color options on offer. In addition to standards you’d expect like navy and black, Uniqlo offers these in multiple shades of brown and gray, plus a burgundy color that’s a particular favorite of mine.

Price

And of course, there’s the price. At a base price of $39.90 USD, these things are a steal even at full price.

Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater ReviewBut Uniqlo frequently offers sales that can bring the price down even further, making them a no-brainer.

Even when combined with the $5 flat rate shipping, these come in much cheaper than comparable models from Banana Republic and J.Crew — and carry all the aforementioned benefits, to boot.

Where to Buy It

The Obvious Choice

As mentioned, Uniqlo has multiple locations across North America.

If you can’t get into a store to try these things on, you can buy them online. Their website offers e-commerce and a standard return policy.

The Less Obvious Choice

A search on eBay turned up multiple options listed as new with tags in a range of prices. While the selection wasn’t mind-blowing at the time of writing, it definitely seems worth keeping an eye on it to see if you can snag a deal. (But with that said, these things are already so affordable that you might just want to go straight to the source.)

And if you’re looking for other good fall/winter styles, you can read my post about How to Wear a Men’s Shawl Collar Sweater to learn more about the preferred sweater of style icons like Steve McQueen, and check out What to Wear in the Fall for a list of 26 ways look awesome in autumn (and winter).

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4 COMMENTS

  1. i’m not a fan of sweaters that are too thin, in the past i’ve bought some from h&m that ripped right away. might have to give these a try if they hold up better.

    • I’ve had the same experience, Matteo. The Uniqlo vees are similarly lightweight, but I’ve never had any of them rip or tear at all, even after extensive use and multiple times through the laundry.

  2. Uniqlo (my fav clothing brand for years) elbows wear out insanely fast. Beautiful sheen and colors to the Merino, but I often end up with gorgeous hole-ly sweaters 🙁

    • Funny you say that HD, I’ve had three or four Uniqlo vees for years now and haven’t had that problem at all.

      Have you considered getting a tailor to cut the holes into proper ovals and adding a leather elbow pad? A few brands (J.Crew, I think, and maybe others) were really pushing leather elbow pads on v-necks and cardigans a few years back. Could be a good way to extend their lifespan.

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