November 09, 2023
Written by Jericho Bundac
Yes, it's comfortable. But that sweater from college looks beat up. You can forget about wearing it outside the house. And that's a good thing. You're a different person now. Don't worry, it's not time to say goodbye, but it's definitely time for an upgrade.
Put together timeless outfits with dynamite sweaters. Look smart and sophisticated on cool summer nights and crisp autumn days. Assemble stylish casual outfits for the office or bring a level of polish on nights out with friends.
You don't need a dozen sweaters to look better than the guy next to you. But you need essential sweaters that create smart, sophisticated looks wherever your day takes you.
Let's talk about the essential sweaters for every man. But we're not just going to talk about styles. We have to start with what matters: the sweater material.
Spend Your Hard Earned Cash Where It Counts: Quality Materials
We hope we don't have to tell you to stay away from polyester. Synthetic material has its place, but not here. Cotton sweaters are thin and light. They're great for layering but don't count on them to keep you warm like wool, alpaca, or cashmere.
Yep, we're taking a luxurious route to upgrade your sweater game. Don't act surprised. We want an air of confidence swirling around you. That's why you should choose natural fibres that look great and keep you warm.
Wool is at the top of the materials you should look out for. It's the most commonly used material for sweaters for a good reason. It's sturdy, durable and does a great job of insulating you from the elements.
Keep your eye out for merino wool. The porous merino fibres wick sweat and moisture away from the skin. It also makes for great-looking, sturdy sweaters that resist pilling more than our next material, cashmere.
Yes, merino is more durable, but what cashmere lacks in durability makes up for in other ways. Cashmere is softer and warmer. It also produces a more elegant drape on your body. The exquisite drape, delicate texture, and insulation make cashmere the ideal sweater material.
But buyer beware. You'll see many sweaters sold as "cashmere," which are actually made of a blend of sheep's wool with wool making up most of the sweater.
It still makes for a fine sweater. But try it on to get a feel for it. Use common sense to ensure the sweater is worth its price tag.
Other than cashmere and wool, there's alpaca. Their fibres are hollow with small air pockets, making them lightweight but insulating. Alpaca sweaters are pricey, so just like cashmere, take a closer look at the tag and see precisely what you're buying.
All three of these materials are great for layering. They'll create elegant layered outfits without adding much bulk when you have the right style. All we have to do now is to pick the right style.
The Sweater that Will NEVER Go Out of Style
There's no need to overthink the first sweater every man should own. It's a minimal but good-looking and stylish crew neck sweater. It looks great with a plain T-shirt underneath or a dress shirt.
Just don't wear a tie. The size of the crewneck's collar, plus your dress shirt's collar and the tie makes a crowd. It's best to keep it simple and sophisticated.
Pick up two or three crewnecks in neutral colours. Make sure it's made of thin merino wool or cashmere. Wear it over your dress shirt for extra warmth in the office, dress it up with a blazer for a night out, or wear it with some chinos on a casual Saturday.
The Essential Sweater for the Office
Our next essential sweater is a great layering piece to wear to the office. Unlike the crewneck, the v-neck sweater perfectly complements a dress shirt and a tie. There's no worry of crowding with its neckline. You can even tuck your shirt collar points if you want to.
But pay attention to the depth of your neckline. A deeper "V" line stands out but for the wrong reasons. Take a classic and modest approach with your v-neck and use the v-neck to frame an Oxford shirt and an exquisite grenadine tie.
Not familiar with the grenadine tie? Let's fix that: Meet the Powerful and Iconic Grenadine Tie.
A Sweater to Show that Timeless is Not the Same as Old Fashioned
The cardigan has a reputation as an "old man" sweater. Sure, it's warm, and it's easy to put on and take off. These qualities make them attractive to older men, but the truth is that the cardigan can be a stylish sweater for men of all ages.
Like the crewneck and v-neck, the cardigan makes for an excellent mid-layer. You can wear it over a dress shirt and under a blazer. Just ensure it's made of the fine materials we've discussed.
A cardigan also looks great with a T-shirt or dress shirt underneath. It can elevate a casual outfit and give you a modern, preppy vibe.
If the modern preppy look isn't for you, you can change your look with a cardigan by choosing a different weight and material.
The Classic and Timeless Sweaters to Suit Your Style
Everyone looks good in cashmere crewnecks, merino v-necks and thin cardigans. They're staples in every modern gentleman's wardrobe. But there are some sweaters that, while great and undoubtedly timeless, take into account personal style that makes each of us unique. Let's give those sweaters some space to shine.
Cable-knit Crewneck or Cardigan Sweater
Have you met the crew neck and cardigan's heavier cousin? This cousin doesn't have a traditional office job. No, the cable knit crew neck or cardigan feels more at home in the Irish seaside. The sweater's construction technique creates chunky layers of warm sheep's wool that look great with a whiskey in your hand and a cold breeze on your face.
Warning: This stylish sweater that keeps you warm may create the sudden desire to drive around San Francisco in a Mustang GT Fastback. The good news is you don't need to carry a shoulder holster with your black turtleneck like Steve McQueen's Bullitt. It looks equally great with a blazer or a suit.
The turtleneck is a bit old-fashioned for some people. But get it in cashmere and in a dark colour like black or navy, and no one will question the timeless and masculine look.
Mock Neck Sweater
If the full turtleneck isn't for you, there's an alternative. It doesn't go as high as the turtleneck. It extends about mid-neck for a less constricting look that Steve Jobs favoured.
You have space to stretch your personal style with your sweater. Pick timeless designs made of materials that keep you warm, no matter what type of sweater you choose.
Pay attention to the tags and buy high-quality sweaters made of excellent materials. That's how you build a flexible, classic wardrobe that doesn't succumb to fads.
Read more about building a timeless wardrobe with essential pieces that make looking polished effortless. Read The Jackets Every Man Should Own (Or the Jackets YOU Should Own) and Trousers Every Man Should Own (And How They Need to Fit).
Build out your wardrobe with refined essentials.