Athletic apparel companies are constantly competing to make the most innovative performance fabrics, prioritizing properties like moisture-wicking, breathability and stretch. But truthfully, they can’t compete with nature’s performance fabric, which is wool. Wool is naturally odor-resistant, temperature-regulating and elastic. Wool can be used for everything from sweatpants to suits, but the most classic use for wool is for making knitwear. That’s why it’s time to stock up on the best wool sweaters for men as the weather cools.
Wool consists of fibers shorn from animals, primarily sheep, but also goats, alpacas and other animals — that’s why wool can vary pretty drastically. Lambswool is pretty different from mohair, which is different from merino wool. You can find stylish sweaters made from any of these materials (and more), which is why it’s worth breaking down a few key types of wool.
- Cashmere comes from goats, and it’s known for being soft and durable, and it’s lightweight yet warm.
- Merino is insulating and less itchy than other kinds of wool, making it one of the most beloved options for not just knitwear, but socks, athletic apparel and other items.
- Lambswool comes from lambs, which are young sheep. It’s softer and less itchy than other forms of wool.
- Shetland wool comes from sheep from the Shetland Islands of Scotland, so it’s no surprise this wool is particularly warm.
In addition to the materials, wool sweaters also come in various styles that suit different functions and tastes.
- Crewneck sweaters have a round neck, like a t-shirt. These are the most versatile for everyday use.
- V-Neck sweaters are a style you’re likely familiar with, and they can include preppy cricket/tennis sweaters and more basic styles.
- Quarter and half zip sweaters are similar to turtleneck sweaters but with a zip down the front for breathability.
- Aran sweaters have a textured honeycomb and cable knit design and owe their namesake to fishing islands in Ireland
- Cardigans have buttons or zips down the front and include thin, dressy styles or rugged shawl collar styles.
Wool from other animals includes camel, alpaca and angora, which comes from rabbits (not to be confused with wool from angora goats). We’ve rounded up some of the best wool sweaters for men, ranging from dressy crewnecks that you can wear to work to trippy cardigans for making a fashion statement.
1. J. Crew Cashmere Crewneck Sweater
J Crew remains one of the best brands for guys who want good value but are still willing to spend a bit more for quality. This crewneck is the perfect option if you want something lightweight but still warm. If you want a basic sweater that you can wear with anything, this is the one to get. Plus, it comes in a wide variety of colors, including neutrals and eye-catching pastels. J. Crew’s sweaters tend to run small, so bear that in mind.
2. LL Bean Men’s Heritage Sweater
Traditional Norwegian sweaters inspire this sweater from LL Bean, and it’s made in Norway, too. It has a white “birdseye” pattern on the blue background, making it a more interesting option than your standard solid navy sweater.
3. Vince Raglan Ribbed Crew
The term elevated basics gets thrown around a lot (okay, too much), but Vince is particularly good at making casual staples that are still put together enough for a first date. This crewneck sweater is made from a blend of wool and cashmere, and it has casual details like a ribbed texture and raglan sleeves.
4. Howlin’ Firecracker Crew Knit
Howlin’ is a Belgium-based brand that focuses on knitwear. The brand works with traditional knitwear makers in Ireland and Scotland but infuses their sweaters with plenty of fun. Take this colorful crewneck, which combines shades of pink, blue, yellow and green with seemingly reckless abandon. The sweater is made in Scotland from 100% wool.
5. Polo Ralph Lauren Cricket Sweater
Looking for something a little more preppy? Who better to turn to than Ralph Lauren? This cricket sweater is made from cotton and cashmere for softness and breathability. It has a deep V in a contrasting stripe pattern, which can be worn with a button-down if you prefer to keep it classic. Or, if you’re more adventurous, go for a low-slung ribbed tank under the sweater for a more laid-back look.
6. Buck Mason Herdsman Shawl Cardigan
Like this one from Buck Mason, a beefy shawl collar cardigan is one of the best things to wear when it’s cold out. A shawl collar cardigan is basically as close as you can get to wearing a bathrobe out in public. This option is made from a blend of merino wool cashmere and cashmere, so you can count on it being warm and soft. Plus, the ribbed texture adds warmth and visual appeal. The sweater is available in a range of earthy colors and neutrals.
7. Naadam The Essential $75 Cashmere Sweater
The name says it all. Naadam offers a $75 cashmere sweater and it’s one that’s made with 100% Mongolian cashmere. Naadam’s brand ethos may be familiar at this point in the DTC era; the brand cuts out the middleman to reduce its product cost. Still, it’s a great option for affordable cashmere made with sustainability in mind. Over two dozen colors are available, though many are low in stock in certain sizes.
8. Missoni Crochet-Knit Wool Cardigan
BEST LUXURY PICK
Missoni’s knitwear is immediately identifiable by its vibrant zig-zag pattern. The style isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s incredibly cool, looking a bit like what a streetwear grandpa would wear. The cardigan has black contrast ribbing on the placket and sleeves. Plus, there are pockets. The 100% wool sweater is made in Italy.
9. Pendleton Original Westerly Sweater
The Dude abides. The Westerly sweater is the style worn by Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski. If you want an option that doesn’t feel like cosplay, go for the one in navy. The stylish shawl sweater has a full-zip front, setting it apart from most button-front knitwear. The sweater is made from 100% lambswool.
10. Everlane The Felted Merino Half-Zip Sweater
BEST ZIP SWEATER
There’s something about a half-zip sweater. It’s cozy yet put together, and it has the practical benefit of allowing you to loosen it in the same way you might the top button of your dress shirt. It’s made from 100% wool and comes in a range of different colors. Pair it with jeans for a more laid-back take on the zip sweater.
11. Uniqlo Extra Fine Merino V-Neck Long-Sleeve Sweater
Uniqlo is the place to go for affordable yet well-made basics. Their V-neck sweater is made from soft and smooth merino wool, so it’ll be soft to the touch. The v-neck style is easy to dress up or down. You can wear it over a white tee for a more casual look or wear it with a crisp oxford.
12. Wills Aran Cable Crew
BEST FISHERMAN SWEATER
An Aran knit cable sweater is a classic style named for the Irish isles it originated in. The sweater was originally designed for fishermen, so it’ll be more than capable of standing up to your cold morning coffee run. The sweater is made from wool and comes in traditional beige or contemporary navy. You can choose between a crew, cardigan or turtleneck style.
13. Jamieson’s of Shetland Cardigan
Shetland wool has gone global, but sometimes it’s best to stick to tradition. Jamieson’s of Shetland has been in the wool business since 1893. This cardigan is made in Scotland from new wool and has brown leather buttons on the front. Jamieson’s is also known for selling knitting kits, so you can even make your own sweater if you’d prefer.