If I could be dressed in head-to-toe one brand with cost no object, it’d likely be Toteme. Minimal, chic, neutral and by far the best jumpers around: it consistently gives rich-auntie-heading-to-work-for-precisely-one-hour-then-going-for-a-long-lunch, which is exactly the vibe I want to aim for.
What is Totême known for?
It does the perfect pair of tailored trousers, sleek dark winter coats, and pointed suede flats that are the stuff of my shoe dreams – there’s just no way to wear an outfit by the brand and not look chic. There’s just one problem – well, for me any way – and that’s the steep price tags.
It meant that when I spotted its now signature striped high neck knit (which was right up my street), there wasn’t even a point of putting my usual shopping trick into practice: typically I’d work out the cost-per-wear to decide if something is worth the money, but at £400, it was still way out of reach regardless.
The original Totême knit
With a cosy high neck, oversized fit, timeless colourway and its instant outfit-elevating qualities, I still lusted after it. I mean, can you blame me?
Where can I find an affordable version of the Totême jumper?
So instead, I plumped for a dupe. I headed to Zara for a similar style last winter that left change from £40, and I wore it to death. Approximately a million washes later and the colours aren’t as vivid as they were when I bought it, but the fact that I paired it with everything last winter, from silk bias cut skirts and loafers, to wide leg trousers and my trusty Vejas, meant that it was worth every penny.
Fast-forward to this year, and since I know for sure I’ll get lots of wear out of it, and combined with the fact it’s a classic print and the cut is still big news a year later, I can safely invest in a better-quality version.
I’d love to tell you that that now meant my beloved Toteme version was within reach, but sadly we’re not quite there yet gang.
But not to worry, as the high street has gone full steam ahead on the trend and there are tons at more affordable price points and with great quality – which is what investment shopping is all about it. We know it’s a myth that a high price point automatically means the best quality, but by seeking out great materials, timeless pieces and in flattering fits that you’ll turn to for years, those items will prove to be worthy investments.
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For me, a striped knit that I can turn to for a number of outfits is one such piece, so as much as Toteme was out of reach, there are tons of equally good striped knits around at the moment to invest in. These are the best of the bunch:
The best Totême knitwear dupes to buy in 2023:
I loved last year’s Zara offering, and this is the updated version for 2023. It’s super soft and weighty, so it works for now (draped artfully around your shoulders and over a shirt), then later with a silky skirt and knee-high leather boots. I’d recommend sizing up by one, as it looks much better a bit looser – no one wants tight horizontal stripes.
This is so good that if it did have a Toteme wash tag inside, I’d have believed it was by the brand. It’s a great longer length for pairing with tailored trousers as it’ll look slouchy and luxe. The dark hem is a sleek detail that it makes it look more expensive than it is.
& Other Stories is my top knitwear haunt, and this striped number is a winner, and if you like a textured cosy knit, this will tick that box. It’s beige and navy, as opposed to the off-white creamy Toteme number, but that makes it feel even more modern and little less ubiquitous, IMO. Wear it with blue jeans and loafers for a smart casual take.
This jumper from & Other Stories has the same turtleneck, extra long sleeves and slouchy fit as the OG. But, because it has thicker black stripes, it looks more like the black stripe version of Toteme’s jumper — so, you’ll love this one if you’re coveting the darker colourway. Dress yours up for party time with curve-hugging leather trousers, strappy heels and a sleek shoulder bag, or keep it lowkey with jeans and trainers.
Next’s offering features thicker stripes and a slightly more boxy and cropped fit than Toteme’s cult favourite, meaning it’ll work well with high waisted trousers or thrown on over a satin slip. The black neckline is ideal for avoiding pesky foundation stains, too.
Zara strikes (or should we say, stripes) again with another Toteme dupe. Ok, it has a collar neck instead of a roll neck. But, that makes this jumper ideal for transeasonal dressing in spring. And, if you’re desperate for a roll neck, you can always layer it over a plain roll neck t-shirt.
Massimo Dutti’s oversized striped sweater is almost exactly the same colouring as Toteme’s and comes with equally as wide sleeves. Other than the crew neckline, the main difference between the two is the fabric. This more affordable option is made of 100% cotton rather than a mix of heavyweight wool and cotton. Translation? It’s a bit more breathable and has a softer texture than Toteme’s, which isn’t a bad thing as we move into spring.
Navy stripes are timeless, and this oversized jumper from Whistles looks like something you’d see all the cool French girls wearing. It’s still oversized and has a ribbed hem and cuffs, like the pricey Toteme jumper, but it looks slightly more lightweight and fluffier in texture. Wear yours now with dark blue jeans, chunky boots, hoop earrings, and a warm jacket.