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With the weather so hot, some days just call for a T-shirt. But, unfortunately, most aren’t suitable for all but the most laid-back occasions. There is, however, an exception: Tees that have been knit and fully-fashioned, like a sweater, easily transition from afternoons in the park to dinners out. I’ve found a standout iteration in the latest collection from British knitwear brand Colhay’s.
Drawing inspiration from vintage sportswear, Colhay’s founder Ronnie Chen says he wanted to “capture that mix of sporty elegance and grit that the British sporting greats of old emanated through their personal style and pursuits on and off the field.” Of all the collection’s retro-inflected knits, it’s Colhay’s take on the sport tops worn by 1920s Olympic track and field athletes that has earned a place in my wardrobe.
A far cry from the synthetic jerseys donned by today’s athletes, this tee is knit in Scotland using extra-fine merino wool from the Italian mill Zegna Baruffa (back in the day, wool was favored by sportsmen for its breathability and moisture-wicking properties). The textile’s handle is incredibly light and soft and has proven surprisingly comfortable on 70-degree days. While cotton would be an obviously lighter choice, merino holds its shape better and is a welcome option for those cool summer evenings. The sport shirt fits close against the body, fashioned with ribbed cuffs that end mid-bicep and a longer, ribbed hem that looks as good untucked as it does tucked. The slightly higher, tighter neckline sits flush against the neck, making it look all the more refined—particularly when worn under a soft-shouldered jacket.
So far, it’s proven to be just as—if not more—useful than any standard cotton tee that I own. With a lightweight blouson and denim, it gives a slight vintage flair, especially with a bandana rakishly tucked in. With an unstructured linen jacket and gray fresco trousers, it has a relaxed elegance reminiscent of old Esquire illustrations. I can also see its usefulness extending to the colder months when it’ll make an excellent base layer under a work shirt or long-sleeved polo.
Most other knitted tees I’ve come across have either been made of cotton or acrylic, which lack a certain finesse. What sets this model from Colhay’s apart is the attention to material and detail. It elevates the humble T-shirt into a piece that effortlessly bridges the gap between being comfortable and looking put together.