I must admit that Fall is one of my favourite seasons for dressing sharp. Not only I’m a big fan of the Fall palette (olives, browns, reds, and yellows), but it’s also the perfect season for layering with sweaters.
That’s why in this article I want to go over 5 essential sweaters that will keep you looking stylish and warm for the upcoming Fall and Winter season.
1. The V-Neck Sweater
I consider the v-neck sweater to be the work-horse of menswear sweaters. Not only can it be worn year round in most climates, but it also tends to give you the most mileage in terms of how it can be worn. What makes the v-neck sweater particularly great for the fall and winter season is its capacity as a layering piece. A v-neck sweater can easily be worn underneath a blazer or sport coat, providing you with not only additional warmth, but also adding visual interest and dimension to your outfit. I find v-neck sweaters so indispensible that I’ve got several of them in various colours in my wardrobe.
Now, some of you may be wondering, “What makes the v-neck so great? Why not go with a crew neck instead?” I’ve got nothing against crewneck sweaters, but what makes the v-neck sweater so great is that the shape of the sweater does a better job of framing and drawing attention to your face, which is what you want your clothing to do. Furthermore, v-neck sweaters are slightly more formal than their crew neck counterparts and are perfect for throwing over top of a collared shirt with or without a tie. Again, the versatility of the v-neck sweater is hard to argue with. It can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.
In terms of quality, v-neck sweaters can be made from various materials including cotton, cotton/poly blends, wool, and cashmere just to name a few. Personally, I favour the merino wool variety as they do a better job of holding their shape than the cotton sweaters but at the same time are not as expensive as cashmere.
2. The Shawl Collar Cardigan Sweater
Alongside the v-neck sweater, another prominent sweater in classic menswear is the cardigan. A cardigan sweater is a type of knitted sweater that has an open front that can be buttoned. These sweaters became popular around the time of the Crimean War and were modelled after the knitted wool waistcoats the British officers wore at the time. Since then, the cardigan sweater has become a staple in classic menswear and can come in several different iterations including the much vaunted shawl collar cardigan.
The shawl collar cardigan is a great rendition on a classic piece and is a perfect addition to any man’s wardrobe for the fall and winter months. The shawl collar cardigan instantly adds an element of sophistication to any ensemble. That’s because the shawl collar is considered the most formal of all collar types, which is why you typically you see them on garments such as tuxedos. However, the benefit of including the shawl collar on the cardigan gives the garment an inherent “high-low” quality. This makes the shawl collar cardigan perfect for pairing with jeans or chinos for a stepped up casual look.
In terms of style and design my recommendation would be to stick with the basics. You will be hard pressed to beat a simple, wool shawl collar cardigan in basic navy or grey. It is a great place for men to start and as your comfort and confidence grows you can begin to branch out your cardigan game and try some of the other interesting varieties out there such as the toggle cardigan.
3. The Cable Knit Crew Sweater
Despite often being overlooked, the cable knit crew is a great sweater for the fall and winter months. Also known as the “fisherman’s sweater”, the cable knit crew is a heavy wool sweater that draws its origins from the Aran Islands off of the west coast of Ireland. These sweaters are distinguished by their prominent cable patterns on the chest and have a distinct, blue collar look to them. As such, these sweaters are great for giving you a rugged, masculine look. In addition, since these sweaters are made from thickly knitted wool, they will keep you plenty warm during the cold winter months. You can throw this sweater on underneath a pea coat with some dark denim and a pair of boots for a stylish blue collar look.
4. The Pullover Sweater
In the fall and winter season it is common for me to see a lot of men walking around wearing crappy, half zip fleece sweaters. If you are one of these guys I highly recommend you switch over to a pullover sweater. It is a similar concept that is done much, much better. The pullover sweater usually comes with a three button placket and a sort of mock neck collar. I find that the taller collar on the pullover adds bit of extra warmth around the neck area. Personally, I’m not a big fan of turtlenecks so the pullover is a great option for me instead.
For those of you who have closets full of v-neck and cardigan sweaters, you might want to give the pullover sweater a try. It’s not something you see a lot of guys wearing these days so it will most certainly set you apart.
5. The Fair Isle Sweater
The Fair Isle sweater is a bit of a wild card in the mix. Fair Isle is actually a traditional knitting technique originating from the Shetland Islands and used to create patterns with multiple colours. These types of sweaters have definitely gained more popularity in menswear over the past few years, but given the typical design of such sweaters they are something that you would only be wearing during the winter months (specifically around the holiday season). For many men the patterns may be too loud and ostentatious, but for others it might be just the sort of thing they are looking for. If you are daring enough to give the Fair Isle sweater a try, I suggest that you keep all other garments muted in both pattern and colour. Let the sweater speak for itself.
Those are my list of 5 essential sweaters for the Fall and Winter season, albeit with the Fair Isle option being a bit of a wild card. This is certainly not ALL of the different types of sweaters that are out there, but I consider the list to be a great place to start for guys just getting used to wearing sweaters in the first place. In the end, If I’ve gotten even one of you to throw away your collection of crappy, half zip fleece sweaters then I’ve done my job as far as I’m concerned.
As always gentlemen, stay fit and look sharp!