As any guy who has dressed for cold weather knows, having dependable base layers and jackets (or outerwear that offers even more coverage) often isn’t enough to get you through the most frigid months. That’s why no winter wardrobe is complete without at least one great sweater that can keep you warm both inside and out (and ideally look good on Zoom, too.) To help narrow down the endless options you can buy, we asked 20 discerning men to tell us about the best sweaters they’ve found — the ones they wear year after year (or plan to) because they hold up but also never go out of style. While we asked them to share sweaters of all styles, the majority of their picks, perhaps not surprisingly, take the form of crewnecks, which are arguably the most versatile style of sweater since they can easily be paired with both T-shirts and button-downs. But we heard about standout cardigans, turtlenecks, V-necks, and zip-ups, too, all at price points that run the gamut. (The more expensive sweaters we heard about were often described as sound investments when you consider how many years of wear they can provide.) Read on for all our cool guys’ favorite sweaters, which we’ve supplemented with a few Strategist-approved options for good measure.
Best men’s crewneck sweaters
Uniqlo’s affordable sweaters received three nods from our sources, which isn’t surprising given how consistently the brand ranks at the top of most every list of men’s clothing we put together. Creative producer Yale Breslin explains the appeal of the brand’s classic cashmere sweater simply: “The price is right and the fit is perfect.” His praise echoes Chris Black’s, who wrote earlier this year that he buys two or three Uniqlo cashmere crewnecks every winter. “It’s well priced and fits like it should, not too tight but not too baggy,” he says of the sweater, which comes in eight colors. (Photographer Christopher Fenimore is our third Uniqlo-sweater wearer, but his preferred sweater is, alas, not currently available.)
J. Press’s made-in-Scotland, 100-percent-wool Shaggy Dog sweater has been an Ivy Style staple ever since it hit shelves more than 60 years ago. In fact, its appearances in New York Magazine predate the Strategist’s very existence. It didn’t surprise us, therefore, to hear it come up as much as Uniqlo’s sweaters did. Two guys — Andrew Favorito, who works in marketing for beauty brand Tatcha, and financial analyst Chang Kim — told us they love the trim-fit Shaggy Dog, which is a bit slimmer. “It’s the most-worn item in my knitwear rotation — and entire wardrobe,” says Favorito, who describes the fit of his (navy) sweater as “trim without being tight,” adding that, despite its warmth, it also manages to feel lightweight. Kim loves and wears his (baby-blue) sweater just as much, telling us that Shaggy Dogs are “the only sweaters I own because they are the only sweaters I need.” Both say that, while pricey, a Shaggy Dog is worth investing in. “You can wear it in three seasons reliably,” Kim explains, with Favorito adding that “I’ll have this in my closet for years to come, making the price tag justifiable — if not an outright bargain when it comes to cost-per-wear.”
Kim is also a fan of the roomier, classic-fit Shaggy Dog; he says it’s more versatile than the trim-fit sweater, which he thinks is “a bit flashier.” Kim told us he’ll throw on his classic-fit Shaggy Dog for pretty much everything, from “lounging at home to going out to dinner (when that was a thing) to going to the office (when that was a thing).” The classic fit is also the preferred style of Strategist senior editor Anthony Rotunno, who has bought three over the years (in charcoal, light gray, and navy). “The Shaggy Dog,” he adds, “also seems to be the preferred sweater of the New York media newsroom, where I’ve spied both my Strategist colleague Katy Schneider and the Cut’s Matthew Schneier wearing them as well.” Brendon Babenzien, founder of the menswear brand Noah, is another fan of the J.Press Shaggy Dog, which he wears during runs. Babenzien says it keeps him warm but doesn’t get drenched in sweat when he’s wearing a proper base layer.
While you might be familiar with Uniqlo’s cashmere offerings, you may be less so with the sweaters from Naadam, a new brand on the block that’s quickly becoming a favorite for its own affordable cashmere. The brand made our list of cool-people-approved men’s cashmere sweaters and Antonio Nuno, the co-founder of Someone Somewhere, also told me about it when I asked him about the best men’s sweaters for this story. He says it’s his favorite, telling us “it’s supersoft, and the fit is amazing,” two things that make it feel more like “a $200 sweater.” Nuno has owned his (navy) sweater for more than a year, adding that it pairs well “with jeans or beige chinos and white sneakers.” If navy’s not your thing, know that this sweater comes in a total of 14 colors.
While nobody has told us about splitting wood in this sweater (yet), other cool people have told us that Topo Designs makes some of their favorite hard-wearing clothes and bags. Its crewneck sweater, according to outdoorsman James Lynch, is “sharp enough for the family Christmas photo, but up to the very high Topo Designs adventure standards.” In other words: The sweater, like the rest of the brand’s stuff, is built to last. It’s made of a (machine-washable) blend of wool, polyester, and nylon that Lynch describes as “supremely soft and the perfect weight to feel cozy without weighing you down.”
“Part of my knitwear criteria is finding something that is a little bolder than usual to help combat 3 p.m. sunsets,” says menswear writer Jordan Bunker. This blue sweater has a subtle slub running through it, which Bunker says is a common trait in Toast knitwear, giving it an even more distinct pop of color. “I’m sure it will make for a lovely conversation starter over the holidays with old friends at the bar who you haven’t seen since — well, let’s face it — last Christmas Eve.”
[Editor’s note: Toast lists all prices in British pounds, so the price shown here is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]
Given how many people have told us they’ve worn L.L.Bean’s winter boots and carried its tote bags for years on end, we weren’t too surprised when Favorito told us its Norwegian Heritage sweater is another style he loves and “has had in his closet since high school.” The fisherman-style sweater is “heavyweight and made with a superdense wool,” he explains, adding that it is perhaps the brand’s most popular sweater within the menswear community: “It has been an L.L.Bean classic since the ’70s (if not earlier).” Favorito says it’s the sweater he reaches for on “bone-chilling days,” promising that it’s “worth every cent — even if L.L.Bean discontinued its lifetime product warranty.”
Stylist Salomon Thiombiano also turns to cashmere sweaters to help him “stay warm without wearing something that’s too rigid, heavy, or thick.” This “softly structured” cashmere sweater from COS is his favorite, he says, because of its waffle design and the feel of the fabric. As a testament to its appeal, he told us he bought the sweater in both colors it comes in (brown and navy), but we chose to show the brown because the color makes it easier to see the sweater’s unique waffle texture.
Merino-wool clothing is frequently recommended to us because the material is breathable, insulating, and sweat-wicking, while also being packable and lightweight. This merino-wool sweater from Sunspel — a brand that cool people say makes some of the best black and white men’s T-shirts — is a favorite of Cory Ohlendorf, the editor of men’s lifestyle platform Valet. “It’s not that I don’t like cashmere,” he says, “I’ve just found that even the best cashmere sweaters tend to pill and can feel a little stuffy.” Merino wool, on the other hand, is “soft, breathable, requires no maintenance, and is almost like a performance fabric,” according to him. He told us he’s had his Sunspel sweater for “so long I can’t remember when I purchased it, but it still looks brand new, whether layered under jackets, on top of sweats, or over button-down shirts.”
Virgil Nicholas, creator of the footwear brand Vinny’s, says the Norse Projects Birnir lambswool knit is “by far my favorite sweater.” It’s thin both in fabric and neck opening, making it perfect to layer over a T-shirt or under a sports coat, but it’s also easy on its own. “Norse’s Birnir has been a trusted companion of mine for more than half a decade,” he says. “This is my hoodie when my hoodie isn’t on.”
The guys at Another Aspect make amazingly timeless pieces in responsible materials, says Nikolaj Hansson, creator of the tennis-inspired menswear brand Palmes. “This one has been a staple after the onset of winter in Copenhagen,” which can be brutal, Hannson explains. “It’s made in a soft, organic merino that feels amazing on.”
[Editor’s note: Another Aspects lists prices in Danish krones, so the price shown here is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]
Jared Johnson, co-founder and chief marketing officer of the footwear brand Season Three, is a fan of the quirky wool sweaters from Howlin’ Knitwear. “It’s really soft and not itchy in the way you might imagine it to be from the look of it. This is one of those items you can own for life,” Johnson says.
Our womenswear guides have long included picks from La Ligne, a clothing brand founded by two former Vogue editors and a Rag and Bone alumnus. But as stylist Bryant Simmons makes clear, there’s no reason men can’t wear its clothing, too. He owns this striped style (made from a blend of wool and cashmere) and loves how “soft and warm it is, as well as its drop shoulder.” Simmons explains that while the knit is “pretty thick,” it doesn’t “add weight and feels very well-made.” As for the pattern, Simmons says the rainbow stripes “just make you happy whenever you see yourself wearing it.” But for the pattern-averse, he notes that the brand makes this sweater in a range of “totally unisex color options, so you can choose one that best suits your personal style.”
“I tend to look for sweaters that meet a few basic criteria: medium weight, the right amount of novelty such as mouline or space dye, and a color palette that works with my wardrobe,” says Justin Berkowitz, Bloomingdale’s men’s fashion director. “Given that I primarily wear navy, brown, and green tones, this pink space-dye style from Our Legacy’s fall collection fits the bill perfectly.” He says he pairs it with vintage Levi’s 501s or army pants and a few more layers up top.
Best men’s cardigan sweaters
For a solid-color cardigan with a bit more flair, Strategist writer Jordan Bowman says that you can’t beat Buck Mason’s Shawl Cardigan, which has quickly become his go-to sweater this season. “It’s helped me live out my dream as a chunky-sweater enthusiast,” Bowman says of the sweater that he received a few weeks ago from the brand. Details that make him reach for it over and over, he says, include the oversize hip pockets, cuffed sleeves, and, of course, oversize collar. “There’s just something old school about shawl collar cardigans,” he says, adding that this one isn’t all looks. “It also heats you a significant amount — you could definitely wear it to walk your dog and withstand a little gust of wind.”
John Smedley is another knitwear brand that boasts a royal warrant. It makes this classic-looking cardigan that Nikko Lencek-Inagaki, the head designer for Freemans Sporting Club, told us he loves to lounge around in. According to him, its merino-wool fabric “breathes, keeps you warm and cool, wicks moisture to keep you dry, and has a great weight and softness for any time of year.”
While it isn’t cheap, Dan Snyder, the founder of menswear brand Corridor, says he’s worn this shawl-collar cardigan “for six years and has absolutely abused it,” but it only “seems to get better every year.” Describing it as “super heavy,” he says the durable sweater is “not scratchy at all and never pulls or pills.”
[Editor’s note: North Sea Clothing lists all prices in British pounds, so the price shown here is an approximate conversion to U.S. dollars.]
Best men’s turtleneck sweaters
Turtlenecks may not be for everyone, but the sweaters can make for a more distinguished look, and their extra coverage means they’re usually extra cozy. Black has called Uniqlo’s cashmere turtleneck wearable “in almost every color” — it comes in seven; his favorites are black and navy — and Joe Watkins, a Pittsburgh-based streetwear influencer, told us that, for $100, it has all the qualities you’d want out of 100 percent cashmere.
This almost-as-affordable cashmere turtleneck came recommended by style blogger Joel Moore for our list of the best men’s cashmere sweaters. According to him, State’s cashmere has “earned a reputation” for its quality and reasonable price point, especially when you consider that it is not a blend but 100 percent cashmere. Moore adds the turtleneck is “easy to dress down while still looking polished.”
According to Simmons, this cashmere turtleneck “is cut perfectly oversized and just screams classy.” Referencing Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s beloved-by-women fashion brand, Simmons adds that, to him, the sweater is exactly “what a lot of guys wanted The Row to be when we heard that there was a men’s line coming — but even better, because it’s about a quarter of their prices.”
For a more rugged option, fashion designer Niyi Okubojeyo of Post-Imperial recommends this merino-wool turtleneck sold by buzzy New York menswear boutique No Man Walks Alone. “I am a sucker for chunky handknit sweaters and turtlenecks,” says Okubojeyo. This, he says, combines both, resulting in “a winning combination that you can dress up or down.”
Ghiaia Cashmere, as you might expect based on its name, is known for its wide array of luxury cashmere knits, says Bowman. “But their cotton turtleneck is a standout garment with its lightweight feel, soft texture, and relaxing fit. The neck has a nice stretchy breathability — unlike other turtlenecks, which can sometimes feel tight and restrictive.” It’s also thick enough to layer with a parka or topcoat so you can withstand winter’s worst conditions.
Best men’s V-neck and zip-up sweaters
Peter Hunsinger, the founder of sock brand Kane 11, told us he is a fastidious shopper who hasn’t been afraid to drop four figures on clothing if his research has proven it worthwhile. Thankfully, his favorite V-neck sweater made of merino wool comes in at less than $200. “They hold their shape very well and never really wrinkle,” says Hunsinger, who adds, “I have two of these in fresh colors that look great in both casual and more dressy situations.” Speaking of colors, the sweater comes in four, all of which are soothing shades of gray or blue.
This writer recently purchased American Giant’s merino-wool zip-up, after wearing a more sweatshirt-like cotton version for the past year. (The brand also makes hoodies and work-from-home wear we’ve written about before.) The wool zip-up is softer than the cotton one, which is one reason I reach for it more often, but it’s not so soft that it lacks structure or fit and veers into loungewear territory. It honestly might be the first garment I’ve owned that’s really shown me those temperature-regulating powers of merino wool I’ve long heard about: I’m somehow never hot nor cold when I wear it. Plus, while companies like L.L.Bean have done away with their lifetime warranties, American Giant is one of a few clothing brands still offering one.
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