If you spend even half as much time as I do in menswear stores (and for the sake of your health, I really hope you don’t), you’ve probably noticed that there are approximately a gajillion types of sweaters for guys.
At least, that’s how it feels.
Every year our favorite menswear brands trot out new colors, fabrics, and patterns, resulting in dozens of dapper sweaters to choose from. And, every year, I spend an embarrassing amount of money buying them up.
But when I go to put them in my (nearly overflowing) sweater drawer, I can’t help but notice that they look suspiciously similar to the sweaters that I already own. Sure, they may have crisper color and a little less wear and tear, but for the most part they’re just updated versions of the same sweater styles I already have.
That’s because, while there may be millions of men’s sweaters on the market, there are really only a few men’s sweater styles. And once you know which of these styles tend to make men look their best, it becomes easy to stay stylish while keeping warm.
In this post I’ll lay out nine of the most stylish types of sweaters for guys, explain how you can get the most out of each style, and provide a few examples of which ones to buy if you want to look your best.
The 9 Most Stylish Types of Sweaters for Guys
A Round Up of Must-Have Men’s Sweater Styles
Number one with a bullet. The v-neck is an absolute essential in the stylish man’s wardrobe, and it’s not hard to understand why.
V-necks are extremely… well, versatile. Get one in a slim-fitting lightweight fabric like merino wool and you can wear it over top of a shirt and tie, or even under a suit. Get one in a thicker cotton or wool, and you can pair it with jeans and chukka boots for a timeless look that will take you almost anywhere.
To find out exactly how your vneck should fit, check out my review of Uniqlo’s lightweight merino wool vees, which for my money are probably the best men’s sweaters on the market.
A Few to Try:
2. Lightweight Crew Neck
A close second to the v-neck, crew necks are also incredibly versatile, and eternally in-style.
As with v-necks, crew necks vary in everything from fabric and weight to color and pattern, meaning you could own dozens of these things and still not have any redundancies in your wardrobe.
Crew necks tend to look a little preppier than v-necks, but like vees they can either be dressed up or down. If you want to keep your crew necks looking a little more casual, look for ones that hang looser around your neck, which implies a more relaxed, laid back vibe.
A Few to Try:
3. Shawl Collar Cardigan
Of the nine types of men’s sweaters on this list, this one is by far my personal favorite, and I don’t think I’m alone.
What I love about the shawl collar cardigan is that, while it’s comfy as hell, there’s also something inherently stylish about it. Just look at that shot of Daniel Craig pictured here. All he’s wearing is a sweater, a henley and a pair of jeans, and yet he looks put together, sharp and masculine as hell.
Bear in mind that, as with most pieces of menswear, wearing one of these bad boys is one thing, but rocking one is another. Check out my post about how to wear a shawl collar to find out how to do it properly.
A Few to Try:
4. Shawl Collar Pullover
The shawl collar cardigan’s slightly less formal cousin, a shawl collar pullover is a great option for guys looking to outgrow the collegiate look and ease themselves into a grown man’s wardrobe.
What’s great about a shawl collar pullover is that it’s not as common as, say, a crew neck, so just by wearing one you automatically send the message that you put some conscious effort into your wardrobe.
But because it’s a pullover and not a cardigan, it doesn’t look quite as stuffy or, ahem, buttoned up (that time the pun was absolutely intended), so it’s a great piece for guys who are just starting down their path toward style.
A Few to Try:
For years, cardigans of the non-shawl collar variety got a bad rep. As much as we all loved Mr. Rogers, I have to admit that I kind of blame him for making cardigans seem so… well, old man-ish.
Fortunately, a new crop of modern style icons have reclaimed the cardigan for the 21st century, and I for one couldn’t be happier. Guys like Dwayne Wade, Lebron James and Ryan Reynolds are making cardigans cool again, and showing us how to make the style look modern.
The key? Keep it slim. Mr. Rogers’ sweaters were so loose they almost looked more like a housecoat. But keep your cardigan slim and you’ll be able to cut a much more stylish silhouette, especially if you’ve got a frame that resembles Lebron’s or Deadpool’s. (You’ve been hitting the gym, right?)
A Few to Try
6. Half-Zip/Mock Neck
The naming conventions start to get a bit murky here, but stick with me. A half zip sweater has a collar that rises up to surround your neck, and a zipper that goes about halfway down the front (hence the name), to end somewhere around your chest.
A mock neck is basically the same thing, only instead of a zipper the collar is sealed with a few buttons, kind of like a cardigan or a henley. When fully done up, both styles look like a turtle neck with a placket in the middle.
But I wouldn’t recommend doing it up fully. When left undone, the upright collar nicely frames your face, creating a strong, masculine and handsome silhouette.
Bonus tip: Make sure your hair is on point when rocking a half zip or a mock neck. The vertical lines of the collar draw the eye upward, inevitably leading to the top of your head.
A Few to Try:
7. Athletic Half-Zip
Though nearly identical to the half-zips above, this style warranted its own place on the list because it serves a completely different purpose in your life.
Like most gym clothes, athletic half zips (also sometimes called quarter zips, which is probably more accurate) are made from polyester and nylon, which breathes better and helps wick sweat from your body.
They’re the perfect sweater to wear to and from the gym, or in any other athletic situation where you need an extra layer.
But unlike the cotton and wool half-zips and mock necks above, I wouldn’t recommend wearing them to the office or the bar. Athleisure may be a trend right now, but personally I always think people who wear athletic gear in non-athletic situations look underdressed at best, and a little pathetic at worst.
A Few to Try:
8. Rugby Shirt
Rugby shirts are a great way to upgrade your casual sweater game, and narrowly beat out hoodies on this list for just that reason.
While certain hoodies can look good in certain circumstances, more often than not they’re worn as baggy monstrosities that make the wearer look like they’ve given up on life (or at least given up on looking presentable in public—pretty much the same thing).
Rugby shirts, on the other hand, manage to convey casual cool while still letting you look put together. As usual, your best bet is to look for one in a solid color that fits slim, preferably one without any gaudy logos.
A Few to Try:
Last and, admittedly, maybe least for a lot of guys. Despite being a classic look sported by style icons throughout the decades, turtlenecks have been pretty far outside of the mainstream for nearly two decades, but the tide has finally started to turn back toward the turtle, and I for one am grateful.
While it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly why they’ve come back into style, my money is on 007 (as it so often is). Ever since Daniel Craig donned a shorter-necked turtleneck for the poster of Spectre, I’ve started to see them on more and more store shelves.
When it comes to turtlenecks, you can go one of two ways. You can opt for a tight version like Craig’s, which essentially serves as an under-layer and looks great under a bomber jacket, or go for something heartier, like the kind preferred by dashing thieves like Neal Caffrey and Danny Ocean.
Both versions tend to look best when layered under a jacket or coat. No matter which style you choose, keep in mind that at this point in time the turtleneck is still a slightly more advanced move than, say, a regular crew neck.
So be prepared to get some compliments for your fashion-forward choice the first time you wear one. And possibly the second. And hopefully the third.
A Few to Try:
If you’ve read this far (thanks for hanging in there by the way), you should have a strong understanding of which classic men’s sweater styles are most essential to have in your wardrobe.
But sweaters are only one piece of the menswear puzzle. If you really want to learn how to look great and outdress the other guys, you need to know how to nail the details—all the details.
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- Which Sweaters Are Attractive? – Real Men Real Style
- Top Men’s Sweater Types and How to Wear Them – The Idle Man
- The 8 Most Stylish Men’s Shirts Colors – Irreverent Gent
- How to Wear a Shawl Collar Sweater – Irreverent Gent
- Uniqlo Merino Wool Sweater Review – Irreverent Gent
- 42 of the Coolest and Most Fun Toys for Men – Irreverent Gent
Banner image: Karsten Winegeart via Unsplash
Irreverent Gent founder Dave Bowden is a men’s style specialist, an Amazon bestselling author, an unrepentant introvert, a (patient, if long-suffering) Toronto sports fan and the husband of a wonderful (and fortunately much more patient) wife.