Sunday, September 19, 2010

Archival Knitwear: Saint James Matelot

Saint James Matelot in rare Gray/Charcoal combination

Part of the pleasure of the Archival Clothing enterprise is to source and sell hard to find items. In the distant past, I used to spend weeks tracking down a bag or jacket or bike part before ordering it from an obscure or overseas vendor (most often by phone, not online). For example, in the early 90s, I would order French Saint James knitwear sweaters directly from Upland Trading Company in New York. I was always looking for non-stock styles or color combinations that were pictured in the print catalogs but not available in the U.S.

Saint James Matelot (navy stripes on ivory field)

I've always worn the Saint James Pont, a fine stitch nautical sweater that has a terrific, slim fit and great, seasonal color variations. It fits me better than the Binic, a looser fitting sweater designed for gents. One of our Saint James reps, Sarah K., introduced me to the Matelot, a style I had originally overlooked since most U.S. stockists (including JCrew) only sell the Binic. Now I prefer the Matelot for the robust quality of the wool, the uber slim fit and the full body striping. Originally designed for the French navy, the Matelot is a seaman’s sweater with a looped round collar and a dense body with fine one-by-one rib knit. It has a wonderful long snug fit. There is a button placket on left shoulder. The original Matelot is designed to fit snugly to keep out the wind and damp during maritime voyages.

Button placket on left shoulder

The pure wool used for the Matelot is among the best quality we've seen on a contemporary sweater. It's thick enough to be a substantial layer without being too warm to wear all day. The Matelot has also become one of Tom’s favorite garments. Since the sweater is unisex, women can wear it as well as gents. We carry the sweater down to a size XS (refer to sizing charts in our shop) but we can special order XXS for slimmer men and petite women. I just ordered a XXS Matelot for myself in Medoc, a stunning tomato paste red.

In addition to standard Saint James colorways for this sweater (navy white, white/navy), Archival Clothing was able to secure a limited production run of Matelot sweaters in light gray with dark charcoal stripes, a color no longer available. Check our web shop for size and color availability. We also carry other Saint James items including the Pont sweaters, wool caps and cotton and wool scarves.

Arrow, Caitlin and Mac (sporting non-archival footwear)

Sheet music for your sweater (via Pillpat)

Please email if you do not see the size/color combination of Saint James item you wish to order. We can also help with sizing information.


Anonymous said...

Do you know the Noel Coward song, Matelot?

Geng said...

The sweaters are rad. But really now, where is that Long Bill cap from (as seen in the red sweater photo)?


Lesli Larson said...


Thanks for asking. The cap you see is one our favorites--the Filson waxed duckbill in tin cloth. Available here:


I will teach myself the Noel Coward song for future reference!