Sweater weather is here. If you’re a seasonal fashion buyer, then you must know that owning a couple of statement sweaters for layering purposes will upgrade your outfit from department store casualness to Parisian chicness.
From hardworking fishermen who wore their loving wives’ knittings, to famously being worn by British royalty and Hollywood glamorized personas, sweaters have stood the test of fleeting fashion trends. But how can we avoid getting dragged into the temptation of purchasing the same type of sweater and investing in qualitative designs and fabrics?
We compiled for you a list of the most stylish sweater styles paired with the best fabrics to choose from, depending on the occasion and season. Hold your hot cocoa tight, cue some relaxing jazz music, and get ready for some wise shopping after enjoying this comprehensive guide.
1. The Crew Neck Sweater
The sweater that started it all. From the stormy waters of mighty 15th-century fishermen, the crew neck sweaters found its fashionable interpretation by being usually paired with an undershirt due to its already bulkier neckline band.
Since it doesn’t offer as much creative space in terms of design, for a bolder look, opt for a colorful Fair Isle pattern or an Alpaca wool blend – this works wonders for blizzardy winter days.
If you are confident with your new gains at the gym, choose a fitted cotton-blend crew neck sweater. For casual 9-to-5 office attire, the crew neck pullover will get you out of the usual dress-up morning haste. Simply pair it with straight-cut jeans, Oxford boots, and an aviator jacket for a dash of edginess.
Where to Buy Crew Neck Sweaters
- Amazon Essentials Crewneck Sweater –
- Bonobos Washable Merino Crew Neck Sweater –
- Huckberry Wills Speckled Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater – $98
- Flint & Tinder Nordic Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater –
- J.Crew Factory Cotton Crewneck Sweater –
- Outerknown Hightide Crewneck Sweater –
2. The V-Neck Sweater
Coming close behind the crewneck sweater in popularity, the V-neck sweater evokes minimalistic stylish masculinity. A key bonus for the V-neck sweater is that it leaves plenty of room for a necktie, hence becoming a staple item in any office-appropriate ensemble.
Its characteristic V-shape feature successfully draws attention to facial features, becoming a favorite amongst A-list actors and artists. If you fear the cutting is too low, try to stick to V-necks only a few inches deep.
With intricate threading or solid color palette, there is little to no room for fashion mistakes. A V-neck pullover will pair effortlessly with wool pants, distressed jeans, military pants, and even polyblend sweatpants.
Where to Buy V-Neck Sweaters
- Amazon Essentials V-Neck Sweater –
- Bonobos Washable Merino V-Neck Sweater –
- Banana Republic Merino V-Neck Sweater –
- L.L.Bean Cotton/Cashmere V-Neck Sweater –
- Express Solid Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater –
- J.Crew Cashmere V-Neck Sweater –
3. The Cardigan Sweater
Designed with a complete frontal button-down opening, a cardigan is a sweater with finesse. I can already picture a young British lad waiting for his hound dog to eagerly scout for some truffles.
A modern reinterpretation of the cardigan sweater added a zipper opening, making it perfect for loungewear too. As much as it is convenient to use a zipper, keep in mind that it is more suited for sporty looks.
The best advice is to not shy away from wearing the cardigan sweater because of its (mythically) elderly appearance. If you opt for a winter cashmere cardigan, you can create the entire outfit around it. Slim, chunky or with a shawl collar—whether you wear the cardigan underneath a trench coat or a parka, with a pair of slim jeans—this type of men’s pullover is both versatile and readily glamorous.
Where to Buy Cardigan Sweaters
- Amazon Essentials Cotton Cardigan Sweater –
- Bonobos Cable Cardigan Sweater –
- Abercrombie & Fitch Marled Shawl Cardigan –
- Brooks Brothers Merino Wool Cardigan –
- Express Wool-Blend Relaxed Cardigan –
- J.Crew Heritage 14 oz. Fleece Cardigan Sweater –
- Flint & Tinder Aran Cable Cardigan Sweater – $228
4. The Zip-Up Sweater
A full-zip sweater is a simple construct, yet a fashionable choice for a fall-winter sweater. Grab it on the go for a campfire trip with your comrades, it can be both the top and underlayer for a harsh winter day. Perfect for layering it over an oxford button-up, T-shirt, or a casual shirt, the zip-up men’s sweater will do its part in cold temperatures.
Style-wise, avoid pairing it with slim fitted jackets or faux-fur coats. The safest fashion bet would be to combine it with a loose double-padded sheep denim coat and jeans.
Where to Buy Zip-Up Sweaters
- Amazon Essentials Full-Zip Polar Fleece Jacket –
- Bonobos Waffle Full-Zip Sweater –
- L.L.Bean Classic Ragg Wool Flannel-Lined Zip Sweater – $119
- Everlane The No-Sweat Full Zip Sweater – $108
5. The Quarter-Zip Sweater
Similar to the zip-up pullover, the quarter-zip sweater is more constraining in terms of underneath exposure. Fitted for outdoors and energetic activities, thanks to its zip feature, you will feel bundled up and protected from harsh wind blows.
You can even style the quarter-zip sweater with elegant fibers, such as merino wool, Mulberry silk, or shiny leather, not to mention that it would be ideal to actually wear a quarter-zip pullover made from these luxurious materials.
Where to Buy Quarter-Zip Sweaters
- Nautica Quarter-Zip Fleece Sweatshirt –
- Flint & Tinder 10-Year Quarter Zip –
- Bonobos Cotton Cashmere Half-Zip –
- L.L.Bean Organic Cotton Quarter Zip Sweater – $79
- Buck Mason Interloop Quarter Zip – $98
6. The Turtleneck Sweater
The turtleneck sweater is optimal for keeping yourself warm in the face of adverse winters. Arguably the most effortless chic men’s sweater, a classic turtleneck has its tall collar tightly folded once or even twice, while maintaining its vertical shape.
A `piece de resistance` in every gentleman’s closet, a beige, black or gray turtleneck will fit into a myriad of outfit options. A turtleneck sweater will make virtually any man look his best. Desirably worn to elongate the torso, if paired with pants in the same color tone, you will appear taller and slimmer.
From wearing it under a wool tartan suit jacket to pairing it with a button-down genuine leather shearling coat, the turtleneck sweater evokes a demeanor of class, confidence and refinement.
Where to Buy Turtleneck Sweaters
- Huckberry Wills Aran Cable Turtleneck Sweater – $198
- Bonobos Jetsetter Performance Turtleneck –
- Amazon Fashion Coofandy Knitted Pullover Turtleneck – $30
- Buck Mason Herdsman Turtleneck – $198
- Frank & Oak The Donegal Turtleneck Sweater –
7. The Mock Neck Sweater
Remember the quarter-zip, the crewneck sweater and the turtleneck style? Yes, there is also a mock neck sweater that combines a version of the three men’s pullover styles. Bear with me on this one, please.
The way I see it, the mock neck sweater is a more elegant approach to an otherwise highly sporty design, if we refer to the zip-up variant. Different from a turtleneck because of its loose and shorter neck ribbing, the mock-neck can come with or without buttons.
Refrain from wearing it with anything remotely close to business or elegant attire. The wisest option would be a laid-back ensemble, such as chinos and a pair of men’s UGGs – if you’re confident enough to wear those boots.
A variation of the mock neck sweater is the Donegal sweater, tracing its origins all the way in the evergreen lands of Ireland.
Irish-made natural fibers, such as Donegal wool, are traditionally made in woolen mills by talented and creative women. What is specific to the Donegal men’s sweaters is the curl neckline, gathering the right dash of coolness to any attire.
Best styles with jeans and calf leather boots, the Donegal sweater comes in a variation of knittings, from contrasting flecked yarns to color-blocking neckline.
Where to Buy Mock Neck Sweaters
- Patrick James Merino Wool Mock Neck Sweater –
- Bonobos Washable Merino Mock Neck Sweater –
- Lands’ End Super-T Mock Turtleneck – $18
- Huckberry Wellen Recycled Cotton Headlands Rollneck Sweater – $118
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8. The Sweatshirt
Sweatshirts are made for no-sweat-stylish options. Grab it on the go and wear it on your back, or style it over a simple T-shirt, while running errands. Before stating the obvious here and saying that there is hardly any other sweater style more versatile and comfortable than the athletic-inspired sweatshirt, it can also be incorporated into more elaborate ensembles.
Satin threads mixed with wool make for one of the most luxurious sweatshirt fabrics combos out there, making it stylish enough to be worn with boot-cut wool pants and a suede jacket.
Where to Buy Sweatshirts
- Amazon Essentials Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt –
- Everlane The Track Crewneck Sweatshirt –
- Everlane The 365 Fleece Crew – $50
- J.Crew Wallace & Barnes Boiled Merino Wool Sweatshirt –
- Mack Weldon Ace Crew Neck Sweatshirt – $78
- Buck Mason Lightweight Double Slub Sweatshirt – $78
- Todd Snyder Midweight Pocket Sweatshirt – $98
9. The Rugby Shirt
Think of rugby sweatshirts as your polo T-shirts, but with sleeves. The classic rugby sweater upgrades the typically casual sweatshirt to the smart-casual league. If you are reluctant to let go of a comfortable hoodie, please bear in mind that a rugby sweatshirt is highly comfortable and straightforward in terms of styling.
The rule of thumb when opting for the perfect rugby shirt is to find a color that suits your skin tone and to not select one with too many patterns or horizontal lines. For a truly classical rugby shirt, make sure to buy the men rugby shirts with elbow paddings.Wearing your rugby shirt with light denim pants, sturdy boots and a goose feather coat will add extra points to your styling game.
Where to Buy Rugby Shirts
- Polo Ralph Lauren Classic Fit Long Sleeve Striped Rugby Shirt – $179
- Abercrombie & Fitch Long-Sleeve Rugby Polo – $60
- J.Crew Rugby Shirt with Tartan Collar –
10. The Hoodie
Admit it or not, hoodies have brought people closer, especially if we refer to the mid 80’s era of rap battles that have become an iconic part of the fashion scene.
Naturally, hoodies’ most praised styling option would be in juxtaposition with loose-fitted joggers and sneakers, and accessorized with a hat or beanie. However, hoodies shouldn’t only be attributed to the street style casualness or the athletic scene.
Fibers such as bamboo cotton or wool blend have strutted the runways of renowned fashion houses, such as Gucci or Kenzo. Unequivocally, incorporating a hoodie into your business attire would be a major faux-pas, however, you could dare to wear a luxurious hoodie with a lush pair of jeans and a leather jacket.
Where to Buy Hoodies
- Mack Weldon Ace Pullover Hooded Sweatshirt – $88
- Flint & Tinder 10-Year Pullover Hoodie – $118
- Bonobos Cotton Cashmere Hoodie –
- Everlane The Felted Merino Hoodie – $130
- Goodthreads Pullover Fleece Hoodie –
11. The Sweater Vest
Let’s face it – sweater vests are prominently viewed as accessories that your senior neighbor wears when picking up the mail. On and off, sweater vests have gained their notoriety, as European royal figures were spotted flaunting them with confidence.
A sweater vest is not only a means to protect your rib cage from freezing. It was also worn to complement and enhance the distinctive features of the jacket or pants. Surpassing its accessory status, there are now plenty of sweater vests that make a statement.
If you search to create a monotone ensemble, choose a sweater vest that is two or three tones darker than your color palette. For a straight out-of-the-fashion books look, a diamond-shaped knitting pattern gracing your sweater vest would work marvelously over a neck-tied shirt, paired with wool pants.
Where to Buy Sweater Vests
- Todd Snyder Cambridge Vest –
- Mack Weldon Warmknit 2-Way Puffer Vest – $168
- L.L.Bean Sweater Fleece Vest –
12. The Cable Knit Sweater
What would the jolly season be without a cable-knit sweater? The cable knit is one of the most refined knitting patterns, imitating paralleled strings of intertwined chains. If you have ever seen a classic Ralph Lauren sweater, you know what I am talking about.
One of the best fabric choices for men’s cable knit sweaters is mohair or merino wool. These soft wool yarns are resistant and lightweight, yet uber cozy while preserving a lot of warmth, turning it into a wise winter fabric favorite.
The world is your oyster when wearing a cable-knit sweater. Preppy style, smart casual, laid-back business brunch, or mountain lodge-themed dress-up are some of the styles you can match your favorite knitted sweater with.
Where to Buy Cable Knit Sweaters
- Aran Crafts Store Cable Knitted Crew Neck Sweater –
- Everlane The Felted Merino Cable-Knit Crew – $170
- Bonobos Donegal Cable Crew Neck Sweater –
- Peregrine Hudson Aran Jumper – $188
13. The Fisherman Sweater
The cable knit sweater is a timeless statement sweater that stands for strength, male energy and effortless refinement. Descending from the historical Irish Islands of Aran, the fisherman sweater, the Aran sweater or the Irish sweater is functional, fashionable and fun.
Its overly knitted design was created to add thickness and warmth for fishermen who tamed rough seas, while also being water repellent. Traditionally, the intricate patterns were telling a different story of the wearer’s clans, for instance, the one of wealth and prosperity.
Once Vogue set eyes in 1958 on the unique pattern, the cable knit sweater gained massive traction. From the likes of Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen, to Robert Pattinson and Chris Evans, the fisherman sweater can be worn with jeans, wool or tweed pants.
Where to Buy Fisherman Sweaters
- Wellen Seawool Fisherman Shawl Collar Cardigan – $118
- The Irish Store Traditional Aran Sweater –
- Wellen Seawool Fisherman Sweater – $148
- Flint & Tinder Aran Cable Crewneck Sweater – $228
14. The Boyfriend Sweater
Also known as the shawl sweater, it resembles a cardigan’s collar and front opening, while the fit is looser and wider. It stands for a perfectly relaxed demeanor while strolling in the winter sun.
It is a must-have item for the layering style connoisseurs. The boyfriend sweater can be thrown over a plain T-shirt or a checkered shirt, without looking too bulky or condensed in volume. Casually worn with simple pants, denim or a fluffy parka, the boyfriend sweater is the pullover one your significant other will most likely wear too.
Just a bonus, for her.
Where to Buy Boyfriend Sweaters
- Amazon Fashion Boyfriend Sweaters.
How to Choose Your Sweater Fit
Sure, the style of the sweater tells a story and shifts the image from a casual Saturday to an energetic ski trip, But how about the sweater’s fit? It is all in vain if you choose the ultimate cashmere sweater only for the shoulder seams to be too large.
We are uniquely different, but there are certain similarities and only a few body types, so it should be fairly easy to know how to dress up to succeed, if you know what suits you best.
For instance, if you are not so comfortable with your Body Mass Index, it would be advisable to conceal the parts you would like to work more on, so a straight-cut, but not too loose sweater would work fine. If you are a gym enthusiast, then your 6-pack would be best complemented by a slim-fit V-neck sweater.
An essential aspect men tend to be forgetful about is the sleeves. Usually, the sleeves should comfortably sit a few centimeters above the base of your thumb. A Gucci sweater might not match the size of a Bottega knitwear, so be ready to know your measurements and always check the size table when shopping online. If the sleeves fit, keep it that way!
Sweater Fabrics That Changed The Game
Imagine yourself sitting in front of the fireplace and getting comfortable while sipping on a cup of mulled wine, only to get distracted by the uncontrollable sweating bursting from your polyester sweater. Not too gentlemanly, is it?
Hence, buying only a few essential sweaters made of high-quality fabrics will become a quintessential part of your autumn–winter wardrobe must-haves and transform your basic collection into a generational one.
1. Cashmere Sweaters
How else could we open the list, but with the king of sweater fabrics? Hypoallergenic, ensuring constant heat and lightweight, cashmere wool is renowned as the best material for a sweater.Reaching as high altitudes as the Tibetan Plateau, the Kashmir goats are valued for their silky wool, famously turned into cashmere shawls.
The goats’ under-hairs’ ability to insulate, while feeling light and soft surmounts any other fabric, however not all cashmere is worth investing in.Did you know that merely 200 grams of cashmere are produced from a single goat, thus making the production cost of a sweater far more expensive?
The downside when shopping for a cashmere sweater is that manufacturers aren’t always straightforward, refraining from disclosing the origin of the fabric, so buy it only if it states ‘100% cashmere`. And remember that real cashmere rarely shines. It is matte, uneven in thickness and a bit fluffy on the outside.
2. Alpaca Wool Sweaters
Another famous type of wool sweater is the Alpaca wool. Truth be told, some consider it even better than cashmere! Thanks to the air pockets in the fibers, an Alpaca wool sweater is elastic and soft, while preserving almost 10% more heat than cashmere.
If you are not adamant about the itchy feeling wool or cashmere might leave on your skin, Alpaca sweaters are the perfect choice for allergy or rash-prone skin.
3. Merino Wool Sweaters
The domestic Merino sheep wool is known for its feature of ensuring enough warmth to get you moving even into a blasting blizzard. The sheep themselves live in temperatures ranging from 86°F to 14°F, turning the Merino wool into one of the most versatile and seasonal adaptable fabrics you would want to own in your collection.
Another great aspect of wool is its performant ability to absorb moisture, while also securing enough breathability. If you shy away from wearing fabrics that can potentially irritate your skin, simply wear your wool sweater over a shirt and become a layering master.
Want to know if it is real wool? Lightly pool out a thread and set it on fire or rub the fabric with a damp finger. If the smell does not rub you the right way, you know it is authentic.
4. Cotton Sweaters
Perfect for throwing it over a T-shirt like a true Italian man strolling in the Piazzetta, or tucking it in under a knitted cardigan, a cotton sweater is light and undeniably stylish.
Since cotton is one the most used types of fabric in the manufacturing industry, producers are more and more interested in sorting out ways to reduce waste and water consumption, so resorting to cotton blends, bamboo and organic cotton have gained traction in today’s fashion scene.
Investing in a 100% ethically sourced cotton sweater is a must-have piece in any gentleman’s capsule wardrobe and neutral tones, greige or black are safe bets.
Refined, polished and classic, silk has been the optimal choice for summer or early autumn brunches for many stylish generations. Considering its humidity intake, it tends to become soggy, so manufacturers prefer to combine it with cotton, wool or cashmere.
Made from silkworm cocoon threads, the manual labor involved in silk manufacturing is colossal. Each thread is differentiated by color and thickness and twisted in pairs of a maximum of 8, to be then sent to bleaching, soaking and dyeing.
Apart from its durability and elasticity properties, it thermoregulates the body, is hypoallergenic and casts out bacteria due to its hygienic characteristic.
Knitted Sweater Patterns
Since the age of Irish fishermen who portrayed their families’ legacies and symbols onto their wool sweaters, in today’s time, there are still some stitching techniques that unravel stories still to be told by the wearer of the sweater.
Knitting is more than a mere intertwining of threads. Finding a balance between the pattern, the yarn of choice, the sweater style and its fitting is what makes a sweater to become a staple in your wardrobe.
The diamond-shaped pattern is one of the most common stitching patterns used in the knitting business. It’s also the basis of the popular argyle design. The longitudinal pattern elongates the torso, making you look taller.
However, if the diamond shapes are too wide, it might offer the impression that you are bigger than in reality. Since their intricacies rely mostly on their knot mastery, this sweater pattern is preferred for unicolored or simple sweaters.
If you feel like your sweater selection has been featuring too many sweaters of the same design, the zig-zag pattern offers tranquility in apparent chaos.
The half-diamond-shaped knitted sweater pattern adds a 3D component to your look, drawing instant attention to your attire. If you are not certain of the occasions to wear the zig-zag knitting, any outdoor activities will effortlessly answer your needs.
3. Cable Knitting
As you might have picked up by now, fishing is a recurrent theme when it comes to sweaters and cable knitting knows no exception. Mimicking the knots of a fishing net and the ropes of sailing, a cable-knitted sweater usually proposes vertical patterns.
Even though you can find sturdy horizontal cable knitted sweaters, the threads will negatively impact the view of your size and weight.
Even though apiculture might not be your hobby of choice, it possesses a certain charm to it. Best suited for caramel or Earth-toned sweaters, the honeycomb sweater is an Aran pattern that draws attention to intricacies in threads’ gaps.
It holds a romantic touch to it, making it a perfect choice for a late autumn winery trip or for enjoying a mountain view from the comfort of your cabin.
5. Fair Isle
Perhaps you know them from Christmas-themed commercials and movies – the brightly colored horizontal winter symbols placed on a white or black sweater. However, not only Fair Isle sweaters are a favorite for snowy times, but they also look wonderful on other occasions.
Does the Fair Isle pattern come from the eponymous island? You guessed it right! Usually, the Fair isle knitting pattern is destined for traditional wool or cotton knitwear, however, the geometric figures can be used in composition with other yarns.
What distinguishes the Fair isle pattern from the rest? 16th-century seamen from the Baltic Sea bartered their wool sweaters adorned with diverse symbols for their survival. The symbols they used were a depiction of essential elements of life, such as crosses, leaves, flowers, and hearts. One prominently used symbol was the rams’ horns, displayed in a squared shape.
In addition, the color palette of the Fair isle pattern makes it recognizable from afar. Shades of royal blue, indigo, yellow, red, and earthly green were used on a beige wool canvas, to depict the story of Mother Nature intertwined with human lives.
Pro Tips for Taking Care of Your Sweaters
1. How to Wash Your Winter Sweaters
Always respect the washing instructions and try to clean them only when necessary – usually after 3-4 wears. It would be marvelous if you could hand wash them, even if the tag allows for a washing machine usage. By manually washing them, you can make sure that the threads do not fall apart or that you do not cause excessive fluffing.
Be gentle when you clean your sweaters. There is no need to frantically go back and forth on the fibers. Simply let the sweater soak in lukewarm water and laundry detergent and it should be bright and clean. Never use the dryer. After you have mildly squeezed the water, hang them on a regular drying rack.
Pro tip: lay it flat on the rack, since the heaviness of water molecules will stretch the fiber down and tarnish its fit.
2. How to Properly Store A Wool Sweater
Do not ever hang your sweaters! Especially not your thick wool sweaters. Stretched-out sweaters are a fashion mistake, and by hanging them, the shoulders will slowly but surely lose their shape.
Instead, fold your sweaters and place them on shelves. If you do not know how to correctly fold a sweater and you mindlessly throw them in drawers, here is how to do it:
- Place the sweater on its face and diagonally from the back of the sweater, and fold the sleeves.
- Take the bottom of the sweater and roll it up to the neck hem and now gently put them on your shelves.
3. Remove Unwanted Hair From The Sweater’s Fabric
Even cashmere sweaters might fluff a bit, not to mention the usual Merino wool which has a sturdier touch to it. For the most part, sweaters can be worn a few times before washing them, but this does not mean that you can wear them and throw them in the closet afterwards.
Take up a soft toothbrush and very gently remove any strands of dust or hair – oh, and if you have a cat, you might work a bit on this particular chore.
4. Nagging Snags
If you too are utterly annoyed by stitches – or snags – coming out of the sweater’s fabric, crochet is a quick fix for this. Turn your sweater inside out, place the crochet’s hook into the snag and take it through. If you do not do this, you might risk having the snag getting entangled or pulled out even further.
5. Get Rid Of Sweater Pills
Nothing evokes a worn-out sweater more than roaming around with a pilling fabric. You will look unpolished and the sweater will lose its aesthetic, even though removing pills is not such a daunting task as you might think. A pill remover is the easiest option, but you can also run a clothes razor over the pills and you will have a smooth sweater on your hands again.
What sweater best suits your personality and which fabric would you say is appropriate for your needs? Did you find this guide useful for your next shopping session?
Show us your most recent sweater additions on our Gentleman Within private Facebook group and we can exchange more opinions over there. Let’s share ideas and advice!