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 game of touch football. 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. 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. The sweater is blended with 10% nylon and 1% elastane for added durability and stretch.
Pros: Available in a wide variety of colors, machine-washable, made from moisture-wicking and breathable merino wool.
Cons: Some found it slightly too thin. Price varies considerably based on color and size.
2. Amazon Essentials Men’s V-Neck Sweater
Wool is the traditional fabric for sweaters, but many prefer cotton for how comfortable and easy to care for it is. This tasteful v-neck from Amazon’s in-house Essentials label comes in striped and solid varieties and is very inexpensive.
Pros: Reviewers were pleased with the fit, 100% cotton makes it easy to take care of.
Cons: Some felt that the fabric could have been softer.
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 found the collar too tight.