A good winter sweater needs to be warm and it needs to look good.
The following are my favourite picks that do both incredibly well:
Cable knit or Fisherman’s sweaters have been around for a long time and derive their lineage from the Aran Jumper – a traditional Irish sweater named after the Aran Islands.
Aran sweaters are made using wool and feature textured cable patterns on the body and sleeves. The original sweaters were made using unwashed wool as the natural oils in the wool made the sweaters waterproof. This made the sweaters a great piece of work wear for the local fisherman working on the islands at the turn of the century.
What I particularly love about cable knit sweaters is that they will keep you warm. These are thick, heavy sweaters by design. They also have an inherently rugged aesthetic to them due to their connection to the fishing industry.
Modern cable knit sweaters can be made from a variety of materials including cotton and polyester. However, I recommend you stick with a sweater that is mostly made from wool. My favourite cable knit sweater right now is the Signature Wool-Blend Fisherman Sweater from L.L. Bean (see image above).
What I like about this sweater is the roll neck. It’s not something that you see on a lot of sweaters and it’s a little detail that makes it stand out in a good way.
Donegal Wool Cardigan
I’ve talked about Donegal sweaters before and I really can’t stress it enough: these are awesome sweaters for the winter season.
From the characteristic flecked design, to the chunky wool and slightly over sized cut, a Donegal wool cardigan is the quintessential cold weather sweater.
What I like about Donegal sweaters is that they are incredibly versatile. Unlike the cable knit sweater which looks best when worn casually, you can easily dress up a Donegal cardigan with wool trousers or keep things low key with denim jeans, cotton chinos, cords etc.
My favourite Donegal wool cardigan right now is the Oversized Shawl Collar Cardigan in Italian Donegal Wool by Todd Snyder (see image above). It is currently on sale for $200. A bit pricey to be sure, but this is a high end sweater made from 100% Italian wool and comes with horn buttons. This is the type of sweater you will have for years and years and is absolutely worth the investment. Remember, quality over quantity.
Lambswool Mock Neck Sweater
If you’re looking for a sweater most other men are simply not wearing much this winter season then the lambswool mock neck sweater is it.
The best way to think of a mock neck sweater is if a turtleneck and a henley had a child.
I consider these sweaters to be a huge upgrade to the standard quarter zip fleece sweaters I see so often on office drones these days. They are also a good way to distinguish yourself among a sea of v-necks and cardigans during the winter season.
My favourite mock neck sweater right now is the Toscano Plaited Mock Neck Sweater available at Nordstrom (see image above). I recommend the lambswool option as its the most versatile. It’s refined enough to be worn with wool trousers but still casual enough that you could wear it with a pair of denim jeans or chinos.
Turtleneck sweaters are not the easiest to pull off but for some of you they can be an incredible option. If you have never worn a turtleneck before I recommend you try one on at the store. You’ll know right away if it’s something that works for you.
Here’s a little inspiration if you’re on the fence:
My favourite turtleneck sweater right now is the Italian Cashmere Turtleneck Sweater by J.Crew (see image above). It’s an absolutely stunning sweater that will score you some major style points provided that you can pull it off. It’s not cheap either (retails for $228) but it is definitely the creme de la creme of turtleneck sweaters. If you are ever considering a turtleneck sweater + suit or sports jacket combo, this is the one to get.
Marled Cotton Crew Neck Sweater
For the non fussy types that just want a simple sweater that looks good with jeans and/or chinos I recommend a marled cotton crew neck sweater.
These sweaters are better than your run-of-the-mill crew neck sweaters as the marled cotton weave gives them a bit of texture and visual interest. For those of you who don’t know, marled cotton is a weave where different coloured fibers of cotton are twisted together to give the fabric a subtle, multi-coloured appearance. As such, marled cotton is neither a solid nor a true pattern, making it a perfect compliment to a variety of pieces in your wardrobe.
My favourite pick right now is the Marled Cotton Crewneck Sweater by J.Crew (see image above). This is a great sweater to pair with your denim jeans and chinos and a perfect option to wear casually on weekends.
We all want to keep warm during the winter season but that shouldn’t be an excuse to let your style slip. The 5 sweaters I covered above will definitely keep you warm and looking good when the temperature dips past the freezing point. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one(s) make the cut for your wardrobe this winter season.
Here’s to looking sharp!