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 at other times. Sweaters can be one of the easiest ways to elevate an outfit, bridging the gap between casual and formal. 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.
- UNIQLO Extra Fine Merino Wool Crewneck – $49.90
- Wills Speckled Merino Crewneck – $98
- Banana Republic Thermal Knit Merino Crewneck – $120
- Amazon Goodthreads Lambswool Crewneck Sweater – $25 ($36) (review here)
- Spier & Mackay Merino Crewneck – $58
- Wills Cable Knit Wool Sweater – $74 ($148)
- Todd Snyder Wool Blend Cable Crew – $119 ($168)
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.
- UNIQLO: Extra Fine Merino V-Neck – $49.90 (shown very top of post, center, in “beige”)
- Target Goodfellow 100% Cotton V-Neck Sweater – $21.25 ($25)
- Amazon Goodthreads 100% Merino Wool V-Neck Sweaters – $25 – $41 (review here)
- Brooks Brothers Merino Wool V-Neck Sweater – $64 ($128)
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. It’s an ideal partner for cool to cold weather layering, as shown above.
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
- J. Crew Cotton Cable-knit Shawl-collar Cardigan Sweater – $76.80 w/ EARLY ($128)
- Spier & Mackay Merino Chunky Shawl Collar Cardigan – $218 (shown = size medium on 5’10″/185)
- Amazon Goodthreads Lambswool Shawl Collar Cardigan – $40 (review here)
- TheTieBar 90% Cotton / 10% Wool Cable Shawl Collar Cardigan – $75 (shown very top of post, far right, size medium on 5’10″/185)
- Amazon Goodthreads Cotton Shawl Collar Sweater – $40
- Old Navy Cable-Knit Button-Front Cardigan Sweater – $45ish
- Spier & Mackay Shawl Collar Cardigan in 100% Waffle-weave Merino Wool – $158
Pros: Extraordinarily 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.
- Amazon Goodthreads Merino Cardigan – $22.40 ($40) (size shown above: medium on 5’10″/185)
- Spier & Mackay Merino Cardigan – $68
- Brooks Brothers Merino Wool Caridgan – $84 ($168)
- Charles Tyrwhitt 100% Merino Wool Cardigan – $99
Pros: An easy to execute style-move many are afraid to try. Pretty much 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. Some of us used to think cardigans are frumpy and unstylish. Nothing could be further from the truth.
- EXPRESS 100% Merino Wool Turtleneck – $44 ($88)
- Spier & Mackay 100% Merino Cableknit Turtleneck – $128
- Suitsupply Merino Wool Turtleneck – $149
- Wills Aran Cable Turtleneck Sweater – $198
- Todd Snyder Italian Merino Fisherman Stitched Turtleneck – $249 ($398)
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 underneath suits and sportscoats.
Cons: You’ll get comments. A turtleneck is like a magnet for people to either pay compliments or make snide remarks (see #6 here). Can be difficult to find on the cheaper side that actually looks good and keeps its shape.
Half-Zip / Quarter Zip
- Banana Republic Merino Wool Quarter Zip – $100 (shown above left)
- Tie Bar Cotton/Cashmere Tipped 1/4 Zip Sweater – $65 (shown above right)
- Amazon Goodthreads Quarter Zip Lightweight Merino Wool Sweater – $22 ($40)
- UNIQLO Cotton/Rayon/Poly Washable Milano Ribbed Half-Zip Sweater – $49.90
- Brooks Brothers Merino Wool Half Zip Sweater – $74 ($148)
- Brooks Brothers Wool Nordic Half-Zip Sweater – $91.20 ($228)
- EXPRESS Merino Wool Quarter Zip Mock Neck Sweater – $98
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” (NO ELI! *nsfwish) Zipper teeth around the Adam’s apple… yikes. Zipper in general = harder to dress all the way up.
Pullover Shawl Collar
- Charles Tyrwhitt Merino Chunky Shawl Neck Sweater – $189
- Old Navy Textured-Knit Shawl-Collar Sweater – $30
- Bonobos Shawl Collar Pullover – $89 ($139)
- Goodthreads Men’s Soft Cotton Shawl Sweater – $22.40
Pros: Super cozy yet rugged. Warm. A great option for those that don’t like the floppiness of hoodies, but want a little extra protection for their neck.
Cons: Obviously bulky around the neck area, and unlike the cardigan style alternative, not as easy to get on/off for on-the-go layering.
- Bonobos Long Sleeve Sweater Polo – $79 ($109) shown above left
- Suitsupply Merino Polo Sweater – $119 shown above right
- Old Navy Long-Sleeve Polo Pullover Sweater – $40
- J Crew Factory Machine Washable Merino Wool-blend Sweater-Polo – $70ish
- Spier & Mackay Merino Sweater Polo – $78
- Todd Snyder Italian Merino Full Placket Sweater Polo – $189 ($298)
- J. Crew 100% Cashmere Sweater Polo – $168
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, textured options 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.
- Charles Tyrwhitt Merino Hooded Sweater – $119
- Target Goodfellow Hooded Pullover – $29.74 ($34.99)
- Wills Speckled Merino Wool Pullover Hoodie – $70 ($118)
- Smartwool Merino Sport 150 Hoodie – $100
- Brooks Brothers Cotton Cable Knit Hoodie Sweater – $128
- Spier and Mackay Merino Hoodie – $118
- J. Crew 100% Cashmere Hoodie – $178
Pros: Not the same as a sweatshirt. Often made of merino or even cashmere. Very easy to wear while staying comfortable and not appearing stuffy. Layered under a casual sportcoat it can look trendy but still put together… although some would disagree, as that trend might have seen its day come and go.
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.
- Banana Republic 70% Wool / 30% Nylon Sweater Blazer – $155 ($225)
- Brooks Brothers Wool Sweater Blazer – $149 ($298)
- Banana Republic Supima Sweater Blazer – $149
- Charles Tyrwhitt Merino Knit Blazer – $199
- Bonobos Italian Cotton Knit Blazers – $298 (wears much more like a blazer than a sweater)
Pros: 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. It’s also the the best portmanteau in Menswear – ALL HAIL THE “SWAZER.”
Cons: Since it doesn’t have the structure of a traditional blazer/sportcoat… these can sometimes look a little schlumpy. They’re also often expensive. Critics would say these are neither here-nor-there. They’re not dressed up, they’re not casual. But that’s also why some of us love them.