First… there’s nothing wrong with a hoodie. And despite what the above image may indicate, no one is making the case for guys everywhere to trash their collection of hoodies. That said, if you’re the type that’s open to elevating your look, even just a little bit, when dressed down? Then these alternatives to the ubiquitous hooded sweatshirt are worth exploring.
All of the below hoodie-substitutes offer many of the same advantages of a hooded sweatshirt (i.e. easy to layer, casual, comfortable***) yet will look a bit more aesthetically appealing to most. Think more purposeful, and less just rolled-outta-bed. Again, these are just suggestions for alternatives. So if you’re on team hooded-sweatshirt, don’t get your strings in a twist.
#1. Shawl Collar Cardigan or Pullover
- JCF Checkered Lambswool Shawl Collar Cardigan – $67.55 w/ MYSTERYSOLVED
- GAP Toggle Lambswool/Nylon Shawl Collar Cardigan – $58.80 w/ EXTRA ($98)
- Everlane Merino Wool Shawl Collar Cardgain – $135
As close to a hoodie as it’ll get, yet you ditch the extra bulk of a hood, and replace it with a more streamlined, yet still neck protecting shawl collar. These are also often made from wool instead of sweat collecting cotton-jersey, and the cardigan styles usually swap out the zipper for classic buttons or toggles. Something you’ll want to have for around the house/apartment. NOTE: JCF code MYSTERYSOLVED is good for an extra 30% off + free shipping no min through today, 10/20/15.
#2. V-neck Sweater over a Slim T-shirt
- UNIQLO Merino V-Neck – $29.90 (last year’s dark green) + Target T-shirt – $6.75 (check in-store for more colors)
- Banana Republic Extra Fine Merino V – $69.50 + JCF Slim Washed Tee – $9.45 w/ MYSTERYSOLVED
This combination gets a bad rap for really no good reason. Sure, self-proclaimed style aficionados abhor a visible white undershirt under a sweater or button up (yet even then, when it’s a decent looking white tee at the base, it can be done)… but this isn’t that. And remember, you’re not going to address the United Nations in this getup. We’re looking for hooded sweatshirt alternatives. It’s casual, but still a little more put together. Find a slim-fit, plain (no graphics), complimentary color tee, and layer it under a well fitting, merino or lambswool V-neck sweater. Wear with jeans or chinos.
#3. Button Mock Neck Cardigan or Pullover
- GAP Cable-Knit Mock Neck Cardigan – $58.80 w/ EXTRA ($98)
- UNIQLO Stand Neck Cardigan – $49.90
- Woolovers Button Up British Wool “Norwegian” Cardigan – $68
Like a shawl collar, but easier to layer under outerwear. Compared to a standard, Mr. Rodgers like cardigan, these are going to be made from a heavier knit, with a collar that goes all the way up. Okay, maybe not all the way to the tip of your chin, but most of these provide plenty of warmth for when the temps get extra frigid.
#4. A Crewneck Sweater with a little character
- JCF SLIM Merino Wool Elbow Patch Crew – $41.30 w/ MYSTERYSOLVED
- Lands’ End Mariner Stripe Crew – $34.65 w/ HAPPY & 7103 ($49.50)
- GAP Waffle Texture Rugby-Stripe Wool/Nylon Crewneck – $35.97 w/ EXTRA ($59.95)
Think elbow patches. Or bold stripes. Or maybe it’s made in a knit you wouldn’t normally reach for. Hooded sweatshirts are undeniably casual, and one way to make any ol’ crew more casual, is to throw something unexpected in there. And with the explosion in popularity of prints & Fair Isle like patterns, it shouldn’t be too tough to find something just different enough.
#5. Rugby Shirt or Old-School Football Jersey
- Best Made Co. Rugby – $98
- Orvis Crewneck Football Jersey – $89 (multiple colors)
- Brooks Brothers “Red Fleece” Blue & White Stripe Rugby – $38.40 ($128)
- Charles Tyrwhitt Navy + Vanilla Rugby – $53.10 w/ 10OFFCT ($59)
Not everyone’s style, but a rugby or a leatherheads-era style football jersey is going to fit much better than a standard football or hockey jersey. And as an added bonus, many of these things are built to take a beating. Super-casual, but we’re talking about alternatives to a hooded sweatshirt here, so being casual probably isn’t a knock. Meanwhile, if you like futbol as well as football? Consider picking up your favorite team’s long sleeve or goalkeeper jersey. Many have collars like a rugby, and all will be made of a super comfortable & breathable technical fabric.
#6. “Chandail” / Fisherman’s Shoulder Button Sweater
- J. Crew Button-Shoulder Cotton Striped Sweater in Slim or Reg. Fit – $49.99 (shown above is the sold-out merino wool version which is kinda close, but not quite the same.)
- Barque Shoulder Button Wool-Blend Sweater (via Gilt) – $69 ($139)
- H&M Cotton Shoulder Button Sweater – $34.99
- Bonobos Shetland Wool Shoulder Button Sweater – $69.97 ($138)
Originally worn by French onion & garlic merchants crossing the channel to sell their produce in England, these are the sweaters with the buttons on one shoulder. Why buttons? Because they used to have extremely tight mock-necks that you couldn’t just stick your whole head through. They were knit this way to keep the cold spray of the ocean out, and the warmth of the person wearing it in. Since your head is bigger than your neck (no, really… I swear), the wearer would put it on unbuttoned, then button up the shoulder to wear the neck would then be encased in sheepswool. Now it’s just a design detail, but unbuttoning the button close to the collar really does seem to help it lay easier over a t-shirt, if you’re the type who likes wool, but doesn’t like the itch on your neck.
#7. A cheap, rumpled, unconstructed Blazer
- Above: GAP Dobby Cotton Blazer (sold out)
- J. C.F. Unconstructed Twill Sportcoat – $54.55 FINAL w/ MYSTERYSOLVED
- GAP Bedford Blazer – $53.97 w/ EXTRA ($89.95)
A little difficult now that brands have switched towards more sturdy wools and tweeds… but remember that old, barely-there chino blazer you’ve beaten up over the years? Right. What’s wrong with throwing that on over an OCBD or chambray shirt? Or maybe a thinner crewneck sweater? Of course, in some situations you’d be overdressed. But these are the types of blazers that look better wrinkled, and not pressed out.
***Notice that “a hood” was not one of the advantages listed, since 99% of the time a hoodie is being worn, its hood is not in use by the wearer.