The Virtues of the Burgundy Shetland Sweater

Harley of Scotland Burgundy Shetland Sweater

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is what color shetland should I buy. I always suggest starting with grey or navy. The what-after-that question gets followed up with charcoal, forest green, and burgundy in no particular order (It’s a free for all after those are covered!). This particular focuses on the virtues of the burgundy shetland sweater.

I’ve had a burgundy shetland for quite a while. I first purchased one back in 2012 from the now discontinued Ralph Lauren Rugby line. It was brushed and featured suede elbow patches. I loved it. It looked, I am searching for the right word…dressy, refined, sophisticated? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but paired with a blue university striped OCBD and khakis it simply looks great. If I had a meeting where I wanted to look businessy but couldn’t wear a tie this was my go to look.

Over time my Rugby shetland started to look a little worn. It had also started to feel a little snug. Add in that it has shoulder seams when I prefer saddle shoulders and it was a time for a new one. So this year I picked up a Harley of Scotland shetland from in Bordeaux Mix Burgundy (see here). I opted for the standard finish as opposed to brushed. I do love a brushed shetland, but I’ve noticed that they show wear faster than their non-brushed counterpart. My standard finish will probably end up looking brushed in about 10 years anyhow.

The short of it is that I am back in business. I have already got a lot of use out of it. I have zero regrets about my color selection. I have wondered if my affinity for burgundy shetlands has to do with my complexion, but since I am no color wheel expert I will plead ignorance. If you frequently wear khakis I think this color is a great option. It’s a classic collegiate color which is always trad/ivy. It also reminds me of when burgundy/maroon SUVs were popular in the early/mid 90s. It’s a simple and classic look with the a slight touch of nostalgia.

Burgundy Shetland Sweater
My new Harley of Scotland Shetland

Ralph Lauren Rugby Shetland
My old Rugby Ralph Lauren Shetland

Harley of Scotland Burgundy Shetland Sweater

oxford cloth button down
Jerrod Swanton is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

18 Comments on "The Virtues of the Burgundy Shetland Sweater"

  1. Future Fogey says:

    Does anyone else have issues with elbows blowing out in their Shetlands? it’s a running joke in my office that I don’t own any sweaters with both elbows intact.

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      I sure do. I always blow them out in the same spot on my left elbow. It’s from the way I sit at my desk. I have the holes darned although elbow patches are another cool solution.

  2. RWK says:

    I’m glad you’re posting again. And I concur with your preference for burgundy/maroon Shetlands. Although I love the trad triad of navy/forest/maroon in Shetlands (and in polo shirts for that matter), for some reason, I always tend toward the maroon color, and find that I have to “force” myself into wearing the other colors.

    I recently picked up one from H.N White in a color they call “claret”. To my eye, it’s the perfect shade of maroon.

  3. Triple Monk says:

    Great post Ox!
    Do you think you could do a few more of these post on the virtues of things in your wardrobe? They’re an interesting theme and they’re providing me with lots of outfit inspo.

  4. Fred Johnson says:

    Some years ago LLBean discontinued selling Shetland sweaters. Originally made in Scotland, the later ones were decent, without saddle shoulders and made in China. Over the years I have managed to get sweaters in all the colors available, but the first was blue followed by burgundy. In high school I bought my shetlands at theYale CoOp and JPress.

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      That’s quite the sweater pedigree you have there. Fred! Nice pickups too!

    • Shaggy Dog says:

      I hope you like my jumper-themed nom de plume,

      I’ve been really enjoying your Instagram content, and glad to discover the site, and to know that you’re posting here again.

      This is good timing, as I’ve been thinking of finally starting a Shetland jumper collection, working my way up with various colours over the next few years I hope.

      What’s held me back is knowing which of the heritage brands to go for, as there are a few offering superficially similar jumpers (plus, I realise, many other brands/vendors, but I have to narrow it down somehow).

      The ones that have stood out in my browsing are Bosie/Harley, Jamieson’s, and Laurence J. Smith. There’s a bit of variance in terms of price (Laurence J. Smith apparently hand-framed and scarcer/pricier), but they all offer nice looking, plain-coloured Shetland jumpers, so I’ve been a bit paralysed by choice.

      I wondered which of these brand’s jumpers you’ve tried over the years, and what led you to Bosie/Harley this time round? Their jumpers seem like good value, so I’m tempted by them too, but hoping I’ll get a chance to compare in person someday.

      Thanks for any advice. Hope you’re well, and looking forward to future posts.


      Shaggy D. (wassup).

      • oxford cloth button down says:

        Shaggy D, I do like the name! I think I ended up with Bosie/Harley because of pricing, fit, availability, and consistency.

        I’ve tried Brooks Brothers, O”Connells, Jpress, and a few others. I don’t have experience with Laurence J, but I think that O’Connell’s might be white labeled by Jamieson. I loved the sweater from O’Connell’s but couldn’t get a good fit (one size too small and the next size up too large. I might have stuck with Brooks Brothers (not sure of their maker), but they started throwing logos on them.

        I hope that helps!

        • Shaggy Dog says:

          That does help, thank you very much. I am pretty inclined to go with Bosie/Harley too due to their good price, nice colours etc, so perhaps similar reasons to you.

          I’ll probably have to follow my usual laborious tendencies and try a few different brands to make sure, but I’m getting closer, I can feel it.

          Thanks again.

  5. Woofboxer says:

    Great to see you back on air, glad that things are going so well and that your love of the clobber is undiminished! Maroon is such a good colour for knitwear, crewnecks, shawl cardigans …

  6. Greg D says:

    It is great to reread your blog, and I am happy you have resumed posting. Your blog was (is) my favorite. The last two shetlands I bought were NOS Pendletons (one of them a tremendous burgundy color) via eBay, and while they lack the shoulder I prefer (they are set-in sleeves), the prices could not be beaten. I was also concerned about the diameter of the neck on the Harley sweaters when looking at their product images online, but yours looks perfect.

  7. Old School says:

    Any chance of some details about the handsome watch?

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      Thanks, Old School. I will look into it. All I know currently is that it’s from my grandfather’s bowling league and it’s dated 1980.

  8. Mike says:

    I bought a well worn Harley shetland on eBay a couple years ago and it’s turning into a fine shaggy. I’ll get a burgundy sweater before next fall. Thanks!

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