No one is saying you need all ten of these styles. Hardly. But like shoes and boots, some styles of sweaters are better for some scenarios, while other styles excel in other areas. In general, sweaters can be one of the easiest ways to elevate an outfit, bridging the gap between casual and formal. Sometimes, it merely complements a look, and other times, it completely makes a statement. Talk about versatile. We’re going to do a deep dive today about the different types of men’s sweaters, along with some of the pros and cons that accompany them. Watch out, it’s about to get a little SWAZY in here!
- Bespoke Post Line of Trade Starboard Donegal Sweater – $70 (word is they run big, $45 when available as the “gale” box)
- Amazon Goodthreads Lambswool Crewneck Sweater – $36 (review here)
- Banana Republic Fuzzy Stripe Sweater – $105 ($150)
- Wellen Seawool Fisherman Sweater – $128
- Banana Republic Italian Merino Crew Neck Sweater – $55 ($89.50)
- J. Crew Rugged Merino Wool Crewneck Sweater – $59.62 w/ FLASH ($79.50)
- Target Goodfellow Micro-knit Patterned Crew Neck Sweater – $20 (shown top right of post, review here)
Pros: The foundation. Super versatile. As classic as it gets. Can be dressed up or down. Widely available at numerous price points, from cheap to pricey, in tons of different fabrics (from cotton to cashmere). Different styles of knit, from slim and smooth to chunky cable, can totally change the look and feel of the sweater.
Cons: Can be tough to dress way up, since layering over a dress shirt can sometimes look a little restricted. Not always. Just sometimes. Not everyone likes a crewneck depending on the fabric (if you find wool itchy). It’s a pullover, so taking it on/off for layering purposes & temperature regulation can leave you with crazy “I just took my sweater off” hair.
- Amazon Goodthreads 100% Merino Wool V-Neck Sweaters – $35 (review here)
- UNIQLO: Extra Fine Merino V-Neck – $29.90 ($39.90) (the legend… seen here)
- Banana Republic Italian Merino V-Neck Sweater – $55 ($89.50)
- Bonobos Washable Merino Wool V-Neck – $99
- SuitSupply Pure Merino Wool V-Neck – $89
Pros: The V-Neck is arguably as foundational as the crewneck. Widely available in various fabrics (and often for super cheap), it’s one of the easiest to style with anything from an open-collar OCBD to a suit and tie. V-shape can accentuate athletic frames.
Cons: Needs to be layered over something (unless you’re a Suitsupply model). Also a pullover, so taking it on/off for layering purposes & temperature regulation can leave you with crazy “I just took my sweater off” hair.
Shawl Collar Cardigan
- Target Goodfellow Shawl Collar Cardigan – $34.99 (shown above, size small on 5’9″ / 155)
- Amazon Goodthreads Lambswool Shawl Collar Cardigan – $40 (review here)
- Spier & Mackay Merino Chunky Shawl Collar Cardigan – $198 (shown very top left of post, size medium on 5’10″/185)
- J. Crew Rugged Merino Wool Cardigan Sweater – $103.50 w/ FLASH ($138) (review here)
- Banana Republic Wool/Nylon Shawl-Collar Cardigan Sweater – $160 ($229)
- Taylor Stitch The Crawford Sweater in Burgundy – $134.40 FINAL ($168)
- Spier & Mackay Cotton Cable Shawl Collar Cardigan – $78
Pros: Super comfortable. Can see extra use as outerwear in fall and spring. “House sweater” style chunky knits can feel like wearing a nice, cozy blanket. Easy on/off avoids that pullover-sweater-hair situation.
Cons: Some see them as “grandpa” sweaters, although that rep has quickly faded in recent years. Usually more expensive since they’re beefier in fabric and construction.
- TheTie Bar Perfect Tipped Merino Wool Cardigan – $52 ($65) (size shown: large on 5’10″/190)
- Amazon Goodthreads Merino Cardigan – $40 (both camel and black size shown: medium on 5’10″/190)
- Spier & Mackay Medium Gray Merino Cardigan – $68 (similar)
- Charles Tyrwhitt 100% Merino Wool Cardigan – $69 ($99)
- Gap Recycled Poly Cardigan Sweater – $38.40 w/ YOURS ($69.95)
Pros: An easy to execute “style move” many are afraid to try. The perfect layer, since unlike pullovers, you can take it on and off without making your hair look like you just stuck a fork in an electrical outlet.
Cons: Maligned as “Mr. Rogers” style. Which is odd, since Mr. Rogers was about as good as it gets as a human being. As our dear leader can attest, some of us (at least used to) think cardigans are dumb and unstylish. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Editor’s Note: I need to figure out a new pose other than “cross your arms and look off to one side.” Sorry fellas, I’m just not a very good model. I’M NOT SURE WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS.
- Spier & Mackay Merino Turtleneck – $58
- Spier & Mackay Cable Knit Merino Turtleneck – $108
- UNIQLO 100% Cashmere Turtleneck – $99
- Buck Mason “The Herdsman” Turtleneck Sweater – $195
- J.Crew Rugged Merino Turtleneck Sweater – $96 w/ FLASH ($128)
- Todd Snyder Interlock Solid Jersey Turtleneck – $98
Pros: Oozes “I know what I’m doing here.” Projects confidence and style. Keeps your neck warm in the colder months, and thinner styles layer quite easily.
Cons: You’ll get comments. A turtleneck is like a magnet for people to either pay compliments, or, make snide remarks (often the latter). Can be difficult to find on the cheaper side that actually looks good and keeps its shape.
Half-Zip / Quarter Zip
- J. Crew Factory Merino Blend Half Zip – $39.95
- Smartwool Sparwood Half Zip – $100
- Bonobos Cotton-Cashmere Half Zip – $129
- J. Crew Quilted Half-Zip Pullover – $34.50 ($69.50)
- Banana Republic Italian Merino Half-Zip Sweater – $60 ($89.50)
Pros: A half-zip over a shirt and tie is a pretty well-accepted “cheat” in terms of business-casual formality, as long as the fit is nails. Zip gives a little more room to pull on and off over coiffed hair, much more so than a crewneck or v-neck.
Cons: Can look a little… “Dad”. Zipper teeth around the Adam’s apple… yikes. Zipper in general = harder to dress all the way up.
Button Mock / Mockneck Sweater
- B.R. Italian Wool-Blend Mock-Neck Sweater – $109
- Goodfellow & Co. Regular Fit Button Neck – $29.99
- Charles Tyrwhitt 90% Merino / 10% Cashmere Button Neck – $189
- J.Crew Marled Button Mockneck Cardigan – $82.50 w/ FLASH ($110)
- Orvis Donegal Button Mock – $149
Pros: If you’re going for the “outdoorsy” look, this can be it. Can even work as an outerwear piece, and can keep your neck warm when buttoned all the way up. Available in tons of colors and textures depending on your taste and application.
Cons: Really not that different from a half zip. Can get pretty bulky around the neck area thanks to the buttons. Not as versatile as many models/retail stylists try to make it look. If you button it all the way up, you might as well have just worn a turtleneck.
- TheTieBar Merino Polo Sweater – $52 ($65) (size shown: large on 5’10″/190)
- J. Crew Cotton-Silk Tipped-Collar Sweater Polo – $59.62 w/ FLASH ($79.50)
- Spier & Mackay Long Sleeve Merino Polo – $68
- Todd Snyder Long Sleeve Merino Tipped Polo – $248
- EXPRESS Merino Wool-Blend Polo Sweater – $29.99 ($80)
- Flint and Tinder Honey Comb Texture Sweater Polo – $88
- Relwen Micro Waffle Sweater Polo – $148
Pros: As easy-wearing as its short-sleeved brother, the sweater polo is simple and straightforward, making it versatile and pairable. While this type is usually a smoother fabric like merino wool, there are some textured options (like Flint & Tinder’s honeycomb, or Relwen’s micro waffle) that can make layering a lot more interesting.
Cons: Kind of tied to the polo itself in the formality scale. Difficult (though not impossible!) to dress all the way up. Can feel weird to wear a t-shirt or undershirt under, which many will want to do with wool versions.
- Amazon Goodthreads Lightweight Wool/Acrylic Full-Zip Hoodie – $48
- Amazon Goodthreads Men’s Merino Blend Lightweight Pullover Hoodie – $45
- Charles Tyrwhitt Full Zip Merino Hoodie – $119
- J.Crew Everyday Cashmere Waffle Hooded Sweatshirt – $178
- Wills Cotton-Cashmere Waffle Stitch Pullover – $158
- B.R. Core Temp Sweater Hoodie – $55 ($79.50)
Pros: Super easy to wear while staying super comfortable and not appearing stuffy. The Amazon Goodthreads hoodie in particular (shown above) is one of my go-tos, for easy warmth and easy wear. Can look quite rakish when layered well.
Cons: Arguably the least formal, and can sometimes be mistaken for simply wearing a terry/fleece style sweatshirt. Look for slimmer cuts, often without the kangaroo pocket up front, and a little texture always helps to make the style intention more clear.
- J. Crew Italian Wool Knit Sportcoat – $337.50 w/ FLASH ($450) (review here)
- Suitsupply 100% Cashmere Light Grey Havana Jacket – $599 !!!
- Amazon Essentials Cotton/Poly Knit Sportcoat – $55
- J. Crew Boiled Merino Wool Black Watch Plaid Swazer – $148.50 w/ FLASH ($198)
- Charles Tyrwhitt Merino Sweater Blazer – $199
- Banana Republic Supima Sweater Blazer – $149
- Bonobos Italian Cotton Knit Blazers – $298 (wears much more like a blazer than a sweater)
- Brooks Brothers Regent Fit Knit Herringbone Sportcoat – $373.50 ($498)
- J. Crew Boiled Merino Wool Sweater-Blazer – $141 w/ FLASH ($188)
- EXPRESS Slim Fit Knit Cotton/Wool blazer – $124 ($248)
Pros: Crazy comfortable. The perfect way to dress up, without really dressing up, and thus can be a nice mental boost on those days when you could use it. And obviously, it’s the reigning champion of Best Portmanteau in Menswear – ALL HAIL THE “SWAZER.”
Cons: Since by it’s nature it doesn’t have the structure of a traditional blazer/sportcoat… these can sometimes look a little schlumpy. Often expensive. Sometimes hard to get the rest of your outfit to line up in terms of formality.
About the Author: Ryan N. is a professional web developer for (and alum from) the University of Delaware, who keeps a close shave as to not be confused with his strongly-bearded twin brother. He plays guitar and drums, loves safely going to concerts again with his wife, and loves being a dad.