8 Types Of Sweaters Every Stylish Man Should Own

Image Credit: Billy Reid

The humble sweater: a hardworking yet undersung wardrobe hero whose quiet versatility often sees it blend into the background. A vital building block for all manner of outfits, but rarely the star of the show, this time-honoured classic can be traced back as far as the 13th Century, and it has remained a constant presence in men’s fashion in various forms throughout.

Today, the knitted sweater’s centuries-long evolution has seen it branch off in a number of different directions. These numerous types of sweater all do much the same job in terms of serving as a textured layering tool during the transitional seasons and winter, but they all have their own unique characteristics that make them a little bit different visually.

So, if you’re bored of your basic crew neck and feel like upgrading your knitwear game, we’ve rounded up a few of the key styles to consider. If you thought sweaters were boring, think again, because there’s enough variety within the category for everyone to find something they like. From heavily textured Aran knits, perfected over centuries off the coast of Ireland, to on-trend mohair cardigans with nineties grunge heritage, earthy colour palettes and eye-catching patterns – here are the sweaters you need in your rotation.

Roll Neck

There’s a bit of confusion regarding roll necks, which means they’re often mixed up with turtlenecks and mock necks. All of these styles are similar in the sense that they have a raised neckline that extends past the collar, but unlike turtlenecks and mock necks, roll necks have an extra long neck that ‘rolls’ back on itself, hence the name.

This extra fabric makes them great for the colder months, as they’ll keep your throat nice and warm,

Classic Crew Neck

When you think ‘sweater’, this is probably the garment that first comes to mind. It’s a simple pullover with a round neckline, long sleeves and it’s usually ribbed at the cuffs and hem. There are lots of different variations of this style, ranging from chunky fisherman knits with raised patterns to low-profile fine-gauge options that are ideal for layering up.

It’s a wardrobe staple in the truest sense of the term, and something we firmly believe every man should own at least a few of.

Fine Gauge

The ‘gauge’ of a sweater refers to how tight the knit is. A fine-gauge sweater is very tightly woven, resulting in a smoother texture while a low-gauge knit will have a much heavier texture.

Fine-gauge sweaters are much less bulky, which makes them ideal for layering under other garments. You could wear a fine-gauge roll neck under a blazer, for example. Or you could team a fine-gauge crew-neck sweater up with a T-shirt, a heavy flannel shirt and a parka for an extra layer of insulation on very cold days.


An Aran sweater (named after the Irish islands on which it originated) is a chunky knitted pullover that features raised ‘cable’ patterns within the knit. Traditionally, they were untreated and knitted in the natural colour of the sheep’s wool. This allowed the wool to retain its natural oils, making it somewhat water resistant.

These days, you’re just as likely to see any cable-knit jumper referred to as an Aran sweater, regardless of the colour. Use them to wrap up warm in the winter and to bring a touch of texture to your cold-weather outfits.

Shawl Collar

The shawl-collar sweater is another great layering piece that sits well over a T-shirt, button-up or even a roll neck thanks to its unique wraparound collar. These sweaters are more often than not chunky, textured and sometimes come in cardigan form rather than a pullover.

It’s a great alternative to a quarter-zip sweater or a cardigan that’ll add a little bit of character to your layered outfits.

Quarter Zip

Their reputation may have been tarnished by the city finance bros who wear them as a sort of unofficial uniform, but we believe there’s still a place for quarter zip sweaters outside of banking boardrooms.

In fact, styled right, this simple piece of knitwear can be a great addition to any man’s wardrobe. You can use it to layer up with tailoring in the colder months or wear one as an outer layer on top of a T-shirt during spring and summer.

If you’re planning to layer, get one that fits nice and close to the body for easy styling.

Fair Isle

Fair Isle sweaters feature intricate and colourful patterns knitted into them using a special technique. The style originated in Scotland’s Shetland Islands for fishermen, but it has since been adopted all over the world. And while Fair Isle originally referred to a very specific type of pattern, it has since become a bit of a catch-all term for any multicoloured patterned knit.

We love them for adding a pop of colour to outfits in winter and the transitional months, and they make great alternatives to tacky Christmas jumpers, with the added bonus that you can wear them well outside of the festive period too.


Cardigans have been having a bit of a resurgence in the fashion world for a few years now. These button-up knits are ideal for layering and can be worn open or closed depending on the outfit and the temperature.

There are lots of different styles to choose from, ranging from thick and chunky to light and thin, but the ones that have been taking the menswear world by storm are the heavily textured mohair ones with a hairy handfeel and head-turning patterns.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.