O’Connell’s Shetland Review

O'Connell's Shetland Review

After years of lust and months of anticipation I finally own my first O’Connell’s Shetland. With the temps still unseasonably (read unreasonably) cold I have had the chance to put my new sweater to good use. Here are my overall thoughts.

I will start with the pros. First things first this sweater has all the right details. When talking about Shetlands this means two things. One, the sweater is made in Scotland. Two, it has saddle shoulders. Check and check.
OC Shetland 2Where this sweater really shines is in the quality of the wool from which it was made. When I opened the package I was immediately reminded of a Woolrich sweater that I owned well over a decade ago. First, it was the smell of the wool that took me back. Then it was the feel. When I picked up the sweater it had a rustic feel that I used to associate with Shetlands. For comparison, only my Spirit of Shetland sweater has this same texture while my modern Brooks Brothers Shetlands are much softer. The smell and feel of the O’Connell’s Shetland reminded my that I was wearing a Shetland in a good way.

Now for the downside. Which is the sizing simply, because it is confusing. The sweater comes in chest sizes (38, 40, etc.).  O’Connell’s ask that you order up from your chest size. This is where I find that it gets confusing. I range from a 36-38 depending on the maker/cut. At O’Connell’s I wear a 36 and at Brooks Brothers a 37/38 depending on the cut. So what size do I order?
OConnells ShetlandAfter much debate I ordered a size 38. I would call it a true small. After my first wear I was concerned that it was a little snug especially in the armhole. The worst kind of too small. The kind where if I ordered a size larger it would be too big. I remembered feeling similarly about one of my Brooks sweaters when I first purchased it and that it stretched out after a couple wears. I was patient and now it feels just about perfect.

Did the O’Connell’s Shetland live up to its hype? It did. It has all of the right details that I wanted and none of the extras that I didn’t want. However, at $165 it is not a cheap sweater, but my other two options (Brooks Brothers and Polo Ralph Lauren) were both $125 and both of these Shetlands had add-ons that I did not want (logos or elbow patches). In short, this is the Shetland for those who know what they want and know what that is worth to them. The only real question is which color do I get next year?

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

24 Comments on "O’Connell’s Shetland Review"

  1. steve says:

    I want one, but too much money. Maybe next year. BTW, what color did you get? Enjoy.

  2. Joel says:

    I don’t like logos on my clothes, either! I ordered a Shetland from GANT last winter, and experienced the same problems. The prices are pretty hefty, but worth it, I think – especially if it fits well.


  3. steve says:

    Sorry for making one comment into two (and now three).

  4. oxford cloth button down says:

    Steve – No worries about the comments. I purchased the charcoal and I do hope to enjoy it. Thank you.

    Philly Trad – Looks like a nice sweater. Thanks for the link. I have read a lot of good things about the company I hope to give them a try soon. I like the cream color.

    Joel – Glad to hear that I am not alone! I was shocked that BB added a logo to their sweater. This is what I would expect from PRL, but not BB.

  5. David says:

    Long time lurker here, thanks for the review. I’ve been on the fence about ordering one from O’Connells for awhile now but I think I’m ready to pull the trigger. They have such an incredible selection of colors that it is going to be nerve racking trying to decide on just one!

  6. Robert says:

    We must be on the same page, as i received my first shetland sweater from O’Connell’s the day before Thanksgiving. It was love at first site and first wear. I bought the forest green and it was not as dark as the photo, but the color is perfect.

  7. hardline_42 says:

    Ox, that Shetland looks just about perfect to my eye. Congrats on acquiring one of your “grail” items. I’m pretty happy with Harley of Scotland for my Shetland crews, but that OC looks so amazing, I might have to splurge on one. Would you mind posting some measurements?

  8. Eddy Clarkson says:

    Looks good! The shetland sweaters from Bill’s Khakis are pretty nice also. I bought one on sale at Dumas’s in Charleston last year and am very happy with it… plus they’re made in USA!

  9. oxford cloth button down says:

    Thanks for the kind words all.

    Eddy – The Bill’s Shetland looked nice. It is good to hear that it is a solid sweater. I would like to visit Duma’s. I need to get to Charleston in general.

    Hardline_42 – Thanks. Those Harley’s look nice. Any thoughts on them? I took some rough measurements. The pit to pit is 19″ and from the top of the collar from the back to the bottom is 25″. It is a size 38. Hope this helps!

    David – Glad to help! I went back and forth between charcoal and mushroom numerous times before ordering. Mushroom is probably next for me.

    Joel – I mean to ask. How is the Gant Shetland?

    • Joel says:

      I don’t own many shetlands to begin with, so I don’t have alot of references, but since it set me back about $190 I had high expectations. I don’t recall being hit by any particular wool smell, like the one you mentioned, but I can definitely relate in terms of the rustic feel. In terms of quality it definitely holds up. It was a tad small when it first arrived, but like yours, it stretched after a couple of wears, and then it was perfect. Out of all my shetlands, I would have to say that this maroon-ish sweater by Gant is my favourite– and my most expensive one, mind you.

    • hardline_42 says:

      Thanks for posting the measurements. I would’ve ordered the 38 thinking it was sized like a sport coat but it appears they are exact measurements. I’m most comfortable with a 20″ p2p so I’ll go for the 40. With regard to Harley of Scotland, I’m quite satisfied with their Shetlands. I wear a medium which is 20″-21″ p2p and it fits well. The knit is slightly brushed, lofty and lightweight. It reminds me of my vintage Lands’ End, Made in England Shetlands.

  10. Charlottesville says:

    Not the same thing, exactly, but the J. Press Shaggy Dog Scottish-made Shetland sweater is on sale. http://www.jpressonline.com/shaggy-dog/ Still pricey at $172.50, but a classic.

  11. Hollywood Argyle says:

    I had a couple of Shetland sweaters in high school, but gave them away when I outgrew them. Now, I live someplace where it seldom gets cool enough for cotton sweaters, much less wool ones, so I can’t justify dropping that much cash on something I will almost never wear. Still, it’s a beautiful sweater in a great color, and I hope you get many years of use from it.

    I, too, abhor logos, and almost never buy clothes with logos on them. Unremovable logos are a deal-breaker. I have taken the outside tag off of PRL chinos (a seam ripper works wonders), because they’re otherwise a great pair of pants, but I won’t wear his pony on my chest.

    • Joel says:

      It’s a shame indeed, PRL makes some good clothes, and like with many other companies, I find that they are ruined by the logos…

  12. USMA Grad says:

    Nice review, thanks. All of my Shetlands are from O’Connell’s: Light Grey, Medium Grey, Burgundy, and Forest Green. My wife is gifting me Loden this Christmas. I reach for Medium Grey most frequently, and the Burgundy is most splendid at Christmas. Next year I may ask for something crazy like Carnation or Baby Blue.

  13. oxford cloth button down says:

    USMA Grad – Nice collection. I reach for my Burgundy sweater pretty often and it is hard to beat Medium Grey.

    Joel – Thanks for the review. As I said above, Maroon makes for a great sweater. I always seem to forget about Gant.

    Hardline – Thanks for the reply and the measurements.

    Charlottesville – Who doesn’t want a Shaggy Dog! Luckily my Rugby brushed Shetlands are holding up, but I do want one.

  14. Michael says:

    Sizing and fit are big problems with Scottish knitwear. I say that as a Scot. Sizing is all over the place. Mostly way too big but occasionally too small. It is near impossible to find a fit that is the perfect intersection between the traditional and a contemporary slimmer fit. However, once you find the sweater that fits you , it will give years of faithful service. The weave and the wool used, mean that a Scottish sweater will hold its shape whereas Chinese made sweaters tend to quickly lose theirs. Its difference between a manufacturing tradition that goes back 2 centuries and one that is of recent establishment and responds too quickly to fashion.

  15. JHR says:

    I know everyone is gaga over O’Connell’s shetlands; I own a Charcoal one myself, and it’s great. I even found the sizing to be an advantage if you want something fitted but not slim-fitting. (I ordered my actual sport coat size and found the fit to be perfect.) However, compared to my medium grey Shaggy Dog it simply doesn’t hold up. The weave is much denser, and I like the lengths of the sleeves–and certainly the fact that they have turn-back, rather than simply ribbed, cuffs. Set-in sleeves versus saddle shoulders has always been a wash to me, personally, and while most people complain about the sizing and the price, I’ve found that ordering the right size (albeit after one or two returns if you’re ordering online) puts them well within reason by traditional standards, and the $135 dollar price tag they drop down to on final sale beats all of the stalwart’s prices save Bean and Pendleton.

    I feel compelled to point out these factors because this year the amount of Shaggy Dogs produced by Press dropped by about half, so if ever there was a time for the pendulum to swing back in favor of the iconic rather than the connoisseur’s choice would be a time in which the company is limiting their production.

  16. Jon says:

    These may interest you – all the details and in lovely colours

  17. Trish says:

    I’m a bit late to the party, but…
    You may like to have a look at Bahle’s based in MI, they carry a large selection of Harley of Scotland Shetland Sweaters too. HoS is the brand O’Connell’s offer under their house label. http://www.bahles.net/brand.php?brand_id=98; Harley of Scotland
    Nice blog BTW.

  18. oxford cloth button down says:

    JHR – Thanks for the in-depth reply. I am sure that it was helpful to many. I want a lovat green colored Shaggy dog something bad.

    Trish – I had heard that HoS is what O’Connell’s offers. Interesting. Thanks for the info and the kind words.

  19. Julie HR says:

    Only just noticed this nice Shetland ‘jumper’ (I’m British but live in VA) read. It used to be so easy finding Shetland sweaters in the Old Country. The only two I’ve been lucky to find since I’ve been here – and on a frugal budget, were actually a quite nice men’s (of course) gray one from Lands End and a lovely rose pink girly one from an Orvis outlet store. Both of which are worn constantly! The Orvis one just smells divine for some reason, it’s probably better quality than the other one.

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