It’s hard to think of an item of clothing more widespread across age, profession, and taste than the sweater. It’s as likely to be seen worn over a shirt and tie at a meeting as it is with a pair of perfectly worn-in blue jeans during a weekend walk on the beach. And if you’re willing to count a sweatshirt as a type of sweater, the applications go even further to include athletic wear.
Historically, sweaters were depended on for their practicality, sailors wore heavy wool knits to keep warm in extremely cold temperatures. Even the friendly cardigan is battle-tested; it’s named for a garment that the 7th Earl of Cardigan, James Brudenell, supposedly outfitted his soldiers with during the disastrous Charge of The Light Brigade. Fortunately, at least the sweater’s reputation has recovered.
In the early 20th century, Coco Chanel helped take practical garments like sweaters and Breton shirts (originally worn by the French Navy) and turned them into fashionable garments. Sweaters never shed their practicality, of course, which is why they’re just as popular for keeping warm while working in the yard as they are for showing up to a dinner date.
A lightweight sweater or sweatshirt is a great layering piece, and it’ll get you through unpredictable fall weather on its own or with a jacket over it. For the sake of versatility, we’ve picked some lightweight options for cooler summer nights, typical fall days, and layering in winter.
1. Pendleton Men’s Shetland Crew Neck Sweater
Pendleton is arguably the most legendary woolen mill in America, and they make tons of great sweaters that are made with the outdoors in mind. This stylish and simple crewneck sweater is made from premium Shetland wool. The sweater has a textured look that adds to its rugged appeal.
Pros: Variety of rugged colors available. Premium Shetland wool construction.
Cons: Can be somewhat itchy.
Pendleton Men's Shetland Crew Neck Sweater
2. Calvin Klein Men’s Merino Sweater V-Neck
Calvin Klein has maintained a reputation for producing dependable basics like packaged t-shirts and underwear, alongside its more adventurous and fashion-forward items. This simple v-neck sweater is made from merino wool, which is a moisture-wicking, breathable fabric that’s a lot softer than most wool.
Pros: Available in a wide variety of colors, machine-washable, made from moisture-wicking and breathable merino wool.
Cons: Somewhat thin.
Calvin Klein Men's Merino Sweater V-Neck
3. Hanes Men’s Ecosmart Fleece Sweatshirt
For a casual option, Hanes’ sweatshirts are simple, durable, and lined with soft fleece. These sweatshirts are from Hanes’ Ecosmart collection, which takes plastic bottles and turns them into the polyester that comprises 50% of this garment (the other half is cotton). It’s available in vibrant and muted colors.
Pros: Soft fleece lining, thin but warm, polyester is made from recycled bottles.
Cons: Some may find the collar too tight.