When the days get shorter and the air chillier, it is the perfect time to update your wardrobe to the imminent sweater weather and pick up some thicker garments to keep you from the cold.
Sweaters make for generally underrated but impactful fashion statements. If you manage to combine looks and comfort, you can have some excellent fun with experimenting with your wardrobe during fall.
So here is a thorough guide on how to make an informed purchase of sweaters that give you longevity and versatility in trying to decide which option to go for. Although it is a market that is admittedly chuck-full of overly tacky and incredibly ill-advised pieces of clothing, it is possible to make some great picks if some amount of care is being exercised.
Picking the right material for your sweater
Deciding what kind of wool you are looking for in your sweaters will give you an idea of the quality and the property of the products you can expect in the long run. There is a whole science behind the manufacturing of these types. Still, here we are going to restrict ourselves to descriptions of their general qualities – you don’t need to know much more to make an informed decision.
- Cotton – offers a huge variety of products that tend to be great during the first half of fall. Once it gets pronouncedly chillier, though, you might want to switch to something much warmer.
- Merino Wool – A soft, finely made, and easy to stretch variety. If you want something that is fairly warm, resistant, yet quite light, I recommend considering picking a sweater made of Merino Wool.
- Donegal Wool – This is a heavier variety that surely brings warmth but, at the same time, still retains a lot of softness. It is very common to find these sort of sweaters flecked with many different colors.
- Lambswool – When picking lamb wool, be extremely careful about what quality you are getting. While some products may be super comfortable, soft, and warm, some cheaper ones tend to be rather itchy, corroding, and pilling fast and heavy. So if you are buying a lambswool sweater, it is worth holding onto the receipt.
- Cashmere – This is considered the top material as sweaters made of cashmere tend to be perfect all-around with superior softness, hold, not so significant pilling, and great longevity. Naturally, the downside is that they are usually super expensive, which given the fact that it’s practically impossible to be let down by them, might even not be a very significant turnoff.
Finding the right pattern (and avoiding the wrong ones)
Even once you have decided on the material, finding the right pattern for you could be a challenge. Of course, there is a wide variety out there on the market, and some may better fit your style and personal taste than others, but the following ones are usually pretty safe choices:
- Fair Isle (very prominent and varied, please see the style guide below)
- Nautical Stripes
- Marled Wool
- Flecked Wool (old-school, yet quite trustworthy and fashionable)
And there are of course the ones that you should avoid by any means necessary unless you have a very specific fashion purpose on your mind or for some ungodly reason want to look like a sociopathic grandpa:
- Tacky Embroideries
- Wide Stripes
It is fair to point out that there might be some exceptions to these rules. However, they are still worth following as general guidelines, especially if you have not done much shopping for sweaters in your life yet. Tacky embroideries are the most common pitfall for sweater shoppers. It’s important to make sure that your sense of style is on point when picking something that looks extra in any way.
Types of sweaters
Before finally making your purchase, it is time to decide on what styles you prefer. Just like with materials and patterns, there are many to choose from, and some of these cuts even tend to compliment this or that material or style. These discussed below are the most prominent types that could be found in most stores, but keep in mind that if you hit up unique second-hand, thrift, or designer locations, you might be able to find some weirdies that fall out of any conventional category.
- Crew Neck – The most basic style that could be virtually found everywhere – there is nothing special to be said about it. With tightness comes an aura of formality, but they do make great casualwear and work well both with and without a t-shirt underneath. They are also found in practically every color, but they look the most striking in gray, black, and navy. Fair to excellent quality ones are constantly on sale by companies such as Uniqlo and J.Crew.
- Cardigan – This variety has been slightly out of vogue as of recently, but it still maintains a certain level of esteem. Available with many sorts of collars, some resembling a shawl make the sweater a bit more casual, while some, for example, regular or mock neck lending the product a more businesslike look – but generally every cardigan can work well with a business casual attire. They usually offer a low-key, understated look that is nothing special but is not an eyesore either – with regards to trustworthiness, Crewnecks and cardigans are practically cousins.
- Cable Knit Sweater – A mostly casual, but nevertheless stylish variety, these nautical-looking sweaters look the best in natural colors and are best suited for heavier, thicker varieties of wool or cotton. It works great as a winter garment too since it fits most overcoats perfectly and is quite warm on its own.
- Fair Isle Sweater – Fair Isle generally denotes a pattern rather than a cut, but these sweaters are so prominent on the market that they deserve their own individual shoutout. Though neck styles may vary, the most important thing to point out about Fair Isle sweaters is that you have to be extra careful when picking the exact design, as a few might not work for your general style. Frankly, there are a handful of Fair Isle sweaters out there that don’t really work for anyone.
- Turtleneck – It might not be far-fetched to say that until the memory of Steve Jobs fades from humanity’s mind, it will not ever be entirely unfashionable to don a turtleneck without a bit of creativity. The epitome of smart casual, this variety protects your neck from the cold as well, and even mock necks and roll-up turtlenecks can function as quasi-scarfs. The thing to note here is that you need to pay extra attention to the material of the turtleneck you are planning to buy, as scratchy, raw varieties of wool especially can irritate the neck and make for constantly uncomfortable wear.
- Quarter-Zip – Known as the ultimate fashion choice for dads, this variety might be a tad bit controversial and off-putting, but there is definitely a case to be made for it as a potent casual option. Although it takes a certain disposition to make it work, the right fits made by top brands can offer a fresh take on this tired formula outside the line of stereotypically awkward-looking models. Still, do not attempt to make a quarter zip a part of your anything-more-than-casual attire, because even the best designs cannot make these fit for any occasion that requires anything more than a casual look.
- Styles to avoid #1: V-Necks – If you think Quarter zips are dodgy, you will not need to be told that V-necks are an invention of Satan himself. This variety only looks passable with a dress shirt underneath it. Still, in general, it’s an incredibly dated, ill-advised variety that has gone out of fashion eons ago and still shows no signs of ever returning. Everything a V-neck does could be done with a regular crew neck without risking a completely ridiculous look. To put it frankly, whatever your goals fashion-wise are with a sweater, there is always an option that serves them better than a V-neck.
- Styles to avoid #2: Shawl Collar Sweaters – This unholy compromise between a sweater and a cardigan was quite popular some years ago but has thankfully faded away, and it is certainly not the time to bring it back. Shawl collars can work great with cardigans but serve no purpose whatsoever on a sweater – there is no reason to risk this look because you will need to work unfairly hard to make it work on any level.