Sweaters are a wardrobe staple for men, providing warmth, comfort, and versatility. With so many styles and options to choose from, it can be difficult to determine what types of sweaters for guys are best for different occasions and preferences. Here is an overview of some of the most popular types of sweaters for men and how to wear them.
The crewneck is perhaps the most classic and versatile sweater style for men. As the name suggests, this type of sweater has a close-fitting round neckline. The standard fit is slim and hits at the hip. Crewneck sweaters look great layered under a blazer or jacket, or worn on their own with jeans or chinos. They come in various fabrics like wool, cashmere, cotton, and blends. A crewneck sweater in a solid color or minimal pattern is easy to dress up or down.
A V-neck sweater is similar to a crewneck in fit and length, except it has a V-shaped neckline that reveals a bit of the shirt underneath. The V-neck creates a slightly more relaxed and less constricting look compared to the crewneck. It also makes a sweater easier to layer under a collared shirt or jacket. V-neck sweaters pair well with button-downs for a polished look. Lightweight V-neck sweaters are ideal for layering in the cooler months.
Turtleneck sweaters are distinguished by their tight ribbed neck that folds over and covers the neck. They provide added warmth and are a key layering piece during the winter months. Turtlenecks can have slim or oversized fits. When worn under a sports jacket or blazer, a fitted turtleneck creates a sharp, streamlined look. Oversized turtlenecks are trendy for casual wear with jeans. Turtlenecks also come in lightweight versions that work well on their own or under an unbuttoned collared shirt.
The cardigan is a versatile sweater style defined by its open front held together by buttons or a zipper. It essentially combines the comfort of a sweater with the functionality of a jacket. Cardigans for men are available in different lengths including hip length, below the waist, and extending lower. Longer versions layer well over dress shirts and sport coats. The standard fit is a bit looser than most sweaters. Cardigans made of breathable fabrics like cotton and linen work for transitional weather when layered.
Cable Knit Sweaters
Cable knit sweaters feature a distinctive woven pattern that gives them an extra chunky texture and eye-catching visual appeal. The knitting technique used to make them forms twisted ropes or cables across the fabric. These sweaters are known for providing exceptional warmth and are common in fall and winter fashion. They have a slightly relaxed, casual fit that pairs well with jeans, corduroys and chinos. The classic cable knit is made of wool but lightweight cotton versions work for cool weather.
Polo sweaters, sometimes called golf sweaters, have a knitted collar and partial placket like a traditional polo shirt. The ribbed collar helps maintain the sweater's shape. Polo sweaters provide a comfort similar to crewnecks and V-necks but with slightly more polish due to the collar. They can be paired with casual button-downs or worn on their own. The looser fit and breathable pique knit cotton fabric make them ideal for active outdoor pursuits like golf or hiking.
Sweater vests are sleeveless sweaters that function as an extra layer for the core. They provide insulating warmth without the bulk and restriction of full sleeves. Sweater vests look particularly sharp when layered over a dress shirt and under a sports jacket. They also pair well with an open collared casual shirt for a polished weekend look. Cotton, wool, and cashmere are common fabrics used for sweater vests. They tend to have a slim fit that follows the contours of the torso.
A Henley sweater is similar in style to the Henley shirt. It has a round neckline finished with a band and a partial placket with 2-5 buttons. Henley sweaters typically have a long sleeve. The relaxed mockneck and contrasting buttons give it a casual, rustic look. These sweaters pair well with jeans, cords and chinos for weekend casual wear. They are commonly made of medium to heavyweight cotton. Some versions feature thermal knit fabric or a bit of wool for extra warmth.
Fair Isle Sweaters
The Fair Isle sweater pattern originated on Scotland's Fair Isle island in the early 20th century. The pattern features colorful geometric designs like diamonds, lines and shapes. Traditional Fair Isle sweaters had no more than 9 colors but contemporary versions use more elaborate palettes. The patterns are incorporated using the intarsia knitting technique which knits each color into designated sections. Fair Isle sweaters have a classic winter sweater style and look. They add visual interest to solid colored bottoms.
Shawl Collar Cardigans
A variation on the standard cardigan, the shawl collar cardigan features an oversized wrapped collar that drapes around the neck like a scarf. The wide, draped collar provides added warmth. The shawl collar creates a polished look while maintaining the relaxed vibe of an open cardigan. These cardigans work well dressed up over a shirt and tie or on their own with a T-shirt. They come in wool blends, cashmere, cotton, and synthetics. Dark neutral colors convey a sophisticated aesthetic.
The fisherman sweater, aka Aran sweater, originated with wool sweaters handknitted for fishermen in Ireland's Aran Islands. Chunky fisherman sweaters feature intricate cable knit patterns across the yoke and sleeves. These stylish, textured sweaters are naturally water-resistant and provide substantial warmth. They have a roomy, oversized fit to allow for ease of movement when worn as outerwear. Fisherman sweaters pair well with slim fitting bottoms like jeans or chinos to balance the looser top.
Quarter-Zip Pullover Sweaters
Quarter-zip sweaters fill the gap between pullovers and cardigans. A partial zipper extends about 6-12 inches down from the neckline, leaving the rest of the sweater a pullover. The partial zip is convenient for regulating temperature. The small collar created by the zipper gives it a slightly more polished look compared to a traditional crewneck. Quarter-zips have an athletic vibe that works well for casual wear, golf and layering during outdoor activities. They come in cotton, synthetic blends and lightweight wool.
Cowichan sweaters originate from the Cowichan Valley area of Vancouver Island in Canada. They are made of thick, shaggy knitted wool with distinct Native Cowichan patterns incorporated. Common designs include animals, totem poles, trees, arrows and other geometric shapes. These heavy, hand-knit sweaters provide outstanding warmth and water resistance. They have a straight, boxy fit. Cowichan sweaters are a staple in Pacific Northwest winter fashion. The colorful patterns pair well with solid colored bottoms like jeans.
Roll Neck Sweaters
The roll neck sweater, also known as a turtleneck or polo neck, has an extra long rib knit collar that can be rolled over to cover the chin. The folded-over neck provides additional warmth and protection. Roll necks create a sleek, minimalist look when worn under a blazer or sports jacket. They come in merino wool or cashmere for a super soft feel. Roll necks pair nicely with dress slacks or trousers for work or dressier occasions. Plain versatile colors like black, navy and grey offer maximum mix-and-match potential.
Zip Neck Sweaters
Zip neck sweaters feature a zipper that extends about halfway down the front. Also known as half zip sweaters, they combine the versatility of a zipper with the comfort of a pullover sweater. The zipper allows for easy on/off and ventilation control. Zip neck sweaters tend to have a loose, relaxed fit and an athletic vibe. They work well for casual everyday use, golf and outdoor activities. Cotton, polyester and acrylic blends are common materials that provide breathability. Dark neutral colors pair with anything.
Sweater Weather Outfit Ideas
- Crewneck sweater with jeans, boots and a beanie
- V-neck sweater layered over an OCBD and chinos
- Cable knit sweater with corduroys and leather boots
- Cardigan over a dress shirt, tie and dress pants
- Polo sweater with chinos and suede loafers
- Shawl collar cardigan with jeans and Chelsea boots
- Quarter-zip sweater with joggers and sneakers
- Fisherman sweater with slim jeans and canvas shoes
- Roll neck sweater under a blazer and trousers
- Cowichan sweater with black denim for a rugged look
- Fair Isle sweater over an untucked OCBD and dark wash jeans
With such an extensive range of styles and fabrics, sweaters offer versatile options for keeping guys stylish and comfortable in cold weather. Consider the occasion and intended use to select the best sweater types for your needs. Layering lighter weight sweaters expands their usefulness for transitional weather. Investing in high quality wool and cashmere brings lasting softness and insulation. With the right sweater options, guys can comfortably face even the chilliest seasons in style.