A Gentleman’s Guide to Sweater Styles From cable knit to cardigans, we've got you covered (literally)
You can’t go wrong with a great sweater. Not only are sweaters unparalleled in warmth compared to other winter wear, but they also come in a wide variety of styles and knits to suit your look. To help inform your next sweater purchase, here is everything you need to know about sweater types, so you can pick one that’s right for you.
The cardigan is a great casual sweater that can be thrown over any ensemble with ease. From layering a lightweight cardigan to bundling up in one with a heavy knit, this sweater comes in a variety of styles and materials. Traditionally, the cardigan has buttons in the front, but other variations of the sweater hang open without buttons. Wearing it unbuttoned makes the cardigan almost like a jacket, which helps frame your torso, giving you a softer, more casual shape because of its relaxed material. If you want to give your outfit more visual texture, try buttoning up the cardigan and layering a jacket over it.
Our Pick: Brave Soul Shawl Neck Cardigan in Cable Knit, $35 | ASOS
The v-neck sweater is a very straightforward sweater that can be worn by itself or layered with other pieces. Wearing a v-neck sweater helps better display the shirt you’re wearing underneath, while also elongating your face, making it perfect for layering over button-up shirts and displaying tie knots.
Our Pick: Italian Merino Vee, $89.50 | Banana Republic
The crew neck is the most common sweater style that you can find the market. Compared to the v-neck, this type of sweater is considered to be more on the casual side. The crew neck sports a collarless neckline, making it an ideal garment to layer or wear under a jacket. This style works particularly well for men with slight or sloping shoulders because the shape draws the eye to the upper half of the body, creating the illusion of a square frame.
Our Pick: Two-Toned Cotton-Blend Crewneck Sweater, $79.50 | Frank And Oak
A turtleneck sweater not only keeps you extremely warm but also has an effortless retro-inspired look to it. Turtlenecks are best suited for men on the taller side and those who sport strong jawlines, as they draw attention upward to your face. Wear your turtleneck with a coat and jeans for a cool, old-school vibe, or pair a slim-fitting turtleneck with a suit for a different spin on your office attire.
Our Pick: Merino Wool Blend Thermal Regulating Turtleneck, $69.90 | Express
The mock neck is a simpler variant to the turtleneck. Unlike the turtleneck, the fabric at the top of the collar stands up around the neck rather than folding downward. This neckline, though a bit harder to find, is ideal for those who like the warmth of turtlenecks but are wary of the extra bulk. Mock necks provide a suitable, sleek alternative. In addition to warmth and neck coverage, this type of sweater is slimming and, in dark colors, does wonders to accentuate one’s physique.
Our Pick: Ribbed Half Zip Mock Neck Sweater, $59.90 | Express
Shawl Neck / Foldover
A foldover sweater, like a shawl or cowl, is a very distinctive style that provides a relaxed and casual fit. This particular style skews toward the more laid back side of the spectrum, compared to a turtleneck, and complements men of all ages. Its versatility allows it to be paired with denim and boots or slacks and a button-up with ease.
Our Pick: Cotton-wool shawl-collar cardigan sweater, $108 | J. Crew
Though not exactly a “knit type,” a sweater guide wouldn’t be complete without mention of cashmere. If you want to feel like a million bucks, go for the cashmere. This timeless material is not only extremely soft, but also very refined, making it ideal for work. Compared to thicker knits, cashmere still keeps the wearer warm while not adding any additional bulk. While 100% cashmere is on the pricer side, sweaters made of a cashmere and cotton blend are more affordable and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
Our Pick: Everyday Cashmere V-neck, $98 | J. Crew
Knit fabric is one of the most standard variations there is. The stretchiness of the fabric is ideal for sweaters and knitted garments, making it easy to wear and easy to maintain. The comfort and subtlety of this particular knit makes it easy to find in stores and easy to pair with virtually anything.
Out Pick: Knit Sweater, $34.99 | H&M
For extra warmth, a cable knit sweater is the way to go. The knit’s distinctive cable pattern not only adds texture to an outfit but also offers a rugged and relaxed look that’s perfect for most situations. While this sweater is meant to be on the casual side, one way to refine it is by pairing it with a tailored blazer. Finish off the look with some clean, straight-cut trousers and you’ll have a perfect cold weather ensemble.
Our Pick: Cable-Knit Cardigan, $79.95 | Gap
For a more subtle look than cable knit, you could opt instead for a ribbed sweater, which will give you all the right texture without the excess bulk. Ribbed knits resemble corduroy, as they both feature a ‘cord’ pattern. You can find ribbed sweaters in chunky and slim fits alike.
Our Pick: Rib-Knit Sweater, $39.99 | H&M
With the cold weather looming in, the right sweater is definite go-to that should be in your winter rotation. With the wide variety of styles and knits available, you’re bound to find a selection to suit your needs.
Read next: Guide to Men’s Sweater Knits and Prints