Sweaters are essential layering pieces and have a history of being outfit-defining staples of the manly wardrobe. In this illustrated guide of the most popular men’s sweater styles, we’ll introduce you to different types of sweaters, their origins, and what makes them the perfect addition to your closet.
The Crewneck Pullover Sweater
The crewneck pullover sweater is the most fundamental sweater design available. With a t-shirt-styled crewneck collar and a typically simple knit, these sweaters should be considered a basic element in any man’s wardrobe. Crewnecks are fantastic for understated layering and are extremely versatile in cool weather.
- Minimal/simple style that styles easily with most clothing.
- Can be worn under a jacket, blazer, over simply a tee, or shirt, or shirt w/ tie
- If with a tight crew neck opening, best to wear with undershirt/tee
- If with wider crew neck opening, can wear with ties
The V-Neck Pullover Sweater
The v-neck pullover, like its brother the crewneck, is an extremely popular sweater in modern men’s fashion. We’ve seen print advertisements from as far back as the 1920s that promote the v-neck sweater and button down look and this sweater has remained a men’s fashion staple for almost a century.
- the V line cut accentuates what the crew does not – leaving more space to showcase the button-down collar (with or without a tie)
- versatility – can be dressier, worn with a jacket but can also be worn without
- more flattering – brings attention to a leaner profile.
The Cardigan Sweater
The cardigan has been around since the late 1800s but found widespread popularity in the 1920s amongst male college students. Cardigans were originally modeled after the wool waistcoats worn by British officers during the Charge of the Light Brigade (lead by Lord Cardigan by the way) in 1854. The cardigan is about as authentically “classic” as men’s style pieces come. They are typically paired with button downs but have recently been seen worn even with t-shirts.
- simple to remove and put back on – a comfortable replacement for a light jacket
- great compliment to a wardrobe. can be worn over a dress shirt/tee, layered under a blazer/sportcoat
The Cable Knit Sweater
The cable knit sweater is easily recognizable for its chunky “cables” running up the length of the fabric, often with unique braided or twisting patterns. By being both undeniably elegant and thoroughly masculine, cable knits are fairly unique by clothing standards.
This is by no accident. Cable knit sweaters reached initial popularity as outerwear in the Aran Islands of Ireland where they were worn by fishermen to keep warm at sea. These men wore cable patterns passed down for generations in their families and knitted by their wives and daughters. These sweaters of the past were built specifically to protect against inclement weather and were often stiff and heavy. Today’s cable knits on the other hand are built with softer, loftier yarns to create warmth without the uncomfortable weight.
The ¼ Collar Zip Sweater
The ¼ collar zip is the newest sweater design covered in this guide. This sweater achieves refinement in design (with typical sweater knits and softness) but with a modern touch in the ¼ length zipper and stand-up collar. Typically this sweater will balance nicely between a sporty outerwear appearance and office-professional — often seen paired with anything from a button down / tie combo to a t-shirt and Members Only jacket.
- Wear the collar up to frame your face, shield neck from wind, for a certain casual-cool look
- Wear the collar folded down for a cleaner, more proper look. Looks better under a blazer
The Shawl Collar Sweater
Shawl collar sweaters can come in a few different styles. There are shawl collar cardigans complete with the full button down front and there are v-neck style shawl-collared sweaters as well. The shawl collar originated in men’s Victorian smoking jackets and is recognizable by its continuous curve in the lapel vs. a notch as seen in a common blazer. Shawl collar sweaters use this same lapel — just typically closer to the neck. Shawl collars are great for extra cool weather and fighting wind and were popular during World War II as somewhat standard casual military attire.
- great with shirt and tie combo.
- a staple in business casual wear