7 Different Types of Sweaters

Sweaters are a mainstay in the modern wardrobe; a fixture of fashion during the fall and winter months. Characterized by knit fabrics and the ability to provide warmth, sweaters are a versatile garment and take several different forms. Whether they’re designed to be layered or worn on their own, sweaters are the ideal way to feel cozy (and fashionable) in chilly weather. Sweaters are also one of the most common types of outerwear and are available in all different prints, colors, and fabrics.

When it comes to the type of sweaters to add to your clothing collection, there’s a multitude of options available to you. Whether you want something casual for at-home wear or a trendy top to wear in the bitter cold winter weather, you’re sure to find a sweater that’s perfect for you. Here, we’ve listed out the top sweater types available from modern clothing retailers. You can browse through them and learn all about the potential sweaters to wear this winter.

Turtleneck Sweaters

Lands' End Women's Lightweight Fitted Long Sleeve Turtleneck Black

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A turtleneck sweater is a popular style in the fall and winter for both men and women. Turtleneck sweaters are characterized by an extra section of fabric around the neck for an extra cozy feel in chilly weather.

Looking back, the history of the turtleneck sweater goes back as far as the Medieval era. At this time, turtlenecks were invested to provide protection against skin irritation from chainmail for knights. Of course, this style has evolved remarkably before becoming a popular style in fashion. It took the form of high-neck ruffles in the 16th century, then became a simple style favored by English polo players in the late 1800s.

In the 1920s, turtlenecks became an iconic garment of Noel Coward, a famed English playwright. This launched the turtleneck style into popularity for mainstream fashion. At this time, turtleneck sweaters were also worn by some of the earliest feminists, soon making the style a symbol of artists and activists.

Main Features of Turtleneck Sweaters

  • Turtleneck sweaters provide extra coverage and warmth of the neck area. This acts similarly to a scarf and eliminates the need for several layers of clothing around the neck during exceptionally cold weather.
  • Turtleneck sweaters that are made of a comparatively light or thin fabric may be layered underneath a dress so that it’s appropriate for cold weather. A particularly popular variation on this style in a turtleneck sweater layered underneath a corduroy overall dress for fall or winter weather.
  • Turtleneck sweaters may be designed to have the neck section folded over. This is a nice visual detail that also adds an extra layer of warmth.
  • Solid-color turtleneck sweaters are a classic choice of professional attire. When paired with slacks or a pencil skirt and formal shoes, a simple turtleneck can exude class and sophistication. In fact, the high neck of a turtleneck sweater is thought to exhibit power and status.


Cowl Neck Sweaters

Unidear Womens Cowl Neck Loose Pullover Sweatshirt Casual Long Sleeve Tunic Top with Pockets Black L

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Related to the turtleneck sweater, cowl neck sweaters also feature fabric around the neck, but with a different, distinct style. Instead of fitting tightly around the neck, the cowl neck sweater fits loosely around the neck, creating a draped effect.

Cowl necklines were first recognized as a fashionable style in the 1930s. The draped fabric around the neck was designed to be complementary to the body without being constricting. Especially popular in women’s fashion in the 30s, the cowl neckline was incorporated into evening wear as well as sweaters for day-to-day wear. Women at this time loved that the cowl neckline showed off the collarbone without being overly revealing.

Main Features of Cowl Neck Sweaters

  • One great benefit of a cowl neck sweater compared to a turtleneck sweater is that it accentuates the neckline, while a turtleneck covers it up. This creates a more feminine, elegant look.
  • Cowl neck sweaters are an ideal sweater design for people with long necks. The added fabric around the base of the neck draws attention up to the line of the neck, which is especially flattering if yours is elongated.
  • Cowl neck sweaters often come in mid-thigh length, making them ideal to wear with a pair of black leggings for a comfy yet sophisticated look.
  • One interesting design element of a cowl neck sweater is its scarf-like look. The additional fabric around the neck eliminates the need to wear a scarf in cold weather. When you pair cowl neck sweater with a jacket or other piece of outerwear, it may even create the illusion that you’re wearing a scarf.

Sweater Vests

Amazon Essentials Men's Big & Tall V-Neck Sweater Vest, Light Gray Heather, 3X Tall

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Sweater vests are a unique sweater type because they’re designed to be layered. Generally layered over a button-down or other long-sleeved shirt, sweater vests are ideal for fall weather because they provide less warmth than a sweater with full sleeves.

Sweater vests have a reputation for being unfashionable, must this notion is largely a misconception. While ill-fitting sweater vests with outdated patterns aren’t a great style choice, there are plenty of fitted, elegant sweater vests available from clothing retailers today. Also, pairing your sweater vest with well-fitted and coordinated garments can help you pull off a sweater vest with ease.

Main Features of Sweater Vests

  • Sweater vests are most commonly worn by men. A sweater vest may even be layered underneath a men’s blazer or sports jacket for a formal look.
  • Sweater vests often feature a pattern for visual interest. Examples of common patterns for sweater vests are argyle, stripes, checkers, plaid, and other geometric options.
  • Sweater vests typically have a V-neck neckline. So, when layered over a collared shirt, sweater vests allow the collar to be exposed.
  • A sweater vest may have either a pullover or button-up design. A button-up sweater vest may be more convenient to wear if you may need to remove it in sudden warm weather.
  • As a type of knitwear, sweater vests are commonly made out of thick, warm fabrics. Examples of fabrics used to make sweater vests include wool, cashmere, cotton, or a blend of synthetic fabrics, among others.


Gildan Men's Heavy Blend Fleece Hooded Sweatshirt G18500, Black, X-Large

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Sweatshirts are known as a comfortable and casual sweater type. Worn by kids and adults of all ages, sweatshirts often have a good and can be thrown over just about any outfit for added warmth.

The classic hooded sweatshirt dates back to the 1930s. Champion, an American clothing company, was the first to introduce this type of sweater to the public. The style was originally intended to accommodate workers in Upstate New York during the freezing cold winter weather. Now, hooded sweatshirts are worn by people from all walks of life.

Main Features of Sweatshirts

  • Sweatshirts often have a pocket at the front that provides storage space for small items like a cell phone, wallet, earbuds, etc.
  • Sweatshirts generally have a loose, oversized fit that’s designed to be comfortable. This makes a sweatshirt ideal to wear around the house during the cold winter months, as well as when you’re out and about.
  • Sweatshirts are different from other types of sweaters on this list in that they’re often made from T-shirt material like cotton. This allows for sweatshirts to be relatively lightweight and appropriate for layering.
  • Sweatshirts are typically made with very long sleeves. These sleeves also generally have tightly fitting cuffs, often made from an elasticized material.
  • Sweatshirts are popular among people of all ages. From young children to older adults, sweatshirts are one of the most practical and comfortable varieties of sweater.

Crew Neck Sweaters

Amazon Essentials Men's Crewneck Sweater, Camel Heather, Large

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Crew neck sweaters are characterized by their neckline. A crew neck neckline sits high up on the chest and is rounded. A crew neck sweater may be worn by either men or women and is a popular style for casual outfits. Crew neck sweaters don’t have a collar, which is a comfortable style for many individuals.

The crew neck neckline, which was soon applied to sweaters, was first seen in the form of a T-shirt in 1932. The crew neck was designed for layering, so it was constructed from lightweight, comfortable fabric. The crew neck T-shirt was worn by American football players to absorb sweat underneath their uniforms. Today, the crew neck neckline is considered to be wholly American and is a staple in men’s and women’s wardrobes alike.

Main Features of Crew Neck Sweaters

  • Crew neck sweaters have a classic, simple design. So, you can have fun accessorizing them and pairing them with more striking pieces. A crew neck sweater is a great staple garment to create a cohesive outfit.
  • Crew neck sweaters have a relatively close-fitting design. So, they’re not too baggy while still being comfortable, making them a great option for wearing either at home or while you’re out and about.
  • While crew neck sweaters may be worn by either men or women, they’re more popular as a menswear garment. Oversized crew neck sweaters may often be worn by women in the boyfriend style, which is a trendy choice in modern fashion.
  • Since crew neck sweaters don’t have a collar, they may be effectively layered over a collared shirt for a classic layered look.

Cardigan Sweaters

TownCat Women's Loose Casual Long Sleeved Open Front Breathable Cardigans with Pocket (Black, M)

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A cardigan is a frequently worn type of knitwear that’s ideal for layering. Cardigans are characterized by having some type of closure system down the front, so the garment can be easily taken off or left open to reveal the shirt worn underneath.

Cardigans have a long history dating back to the 1800s. Named after James Thomas Brudenell, 7th Earl of Cardigan, the cardigan sweater surprisingly began as military attire. The garment was a waistcoat trimmed with fur or braid and made of knitted worsted wool. This early type of cardigan was popular among officers of the British Army in the Crimean war.

By the year of 1864, the cardigan had greatly evolved. At this time, a cardigan referred to a sleeved jacket (in fact, it was generally called a “cardigan jacket”). By 1910, cardigan vests had generally lost favor and cardigan jackets were the more popular garment. Just a little over a decade later in the mid-1920s, cardigans were worn by both men and women and were knitted as they are today.

Main Features of Cardigan Sweaters

  • Cardigans generally have either a zipper or a set of buttons down the front. A zipper has a more sporty, athletic, and casual look. Buttons are trendier and better suited to formal or professional occasions.
  • Cardigans come in a variety of thicknesses and, therefore, provide differing levels of warmth. This depends entirely on the thickness of the material used. A knitted wool cardigan will be quite thick and warm, while a cardigan made with a cotton blend material could be worn in warmer months in case the weather gets chilly.
  • Some cardigans omit a closure system at the front and are designed to stay open. These types of cardigans may be oversized and casual, often made to be worn as at-home leisurewear. Open cardigans may also be designed to be layered over dressy outfits to show off the clothing underneath.
  • For especially cold temperatures that require several layers of clothing, you can consider layering a cardigan underneath a heavier coat. You can wear large coats while you’re outdoors and just the cardigan while you’re indoors.
  • For both men and women, tightly fitted cardigans are a great way to add warmth to a stylish outfit without detracting from its overall look. Many cardigans are even made with a shorter length to create ideal proportions if you wear a high-waisted skirt or pair of pants.

Poncho Sweaters

Women's Elegant Knitted Shawl Poncho with Fringed V-Neck Striped Sweater Pullover Cape Gifts for Mom

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Ponchos are a type of garment that originated in Mexico. While there are different types of ponchos, poncho sweaters are a fashionable and functional garment mainly worn by women. Poncho sweaters are unique in that they’re sleeveless with open sides. The straightforward design is both simple and striking, making a lovely addition to many people’s wardrobes.

Ponchos have been around since ancient times and are thought to have originated in South America, specifically around the Andes Mountains. Ponchos are both a popular garment and a meaningful cultural symbol for indigenous populations. The Mapuche people of South America are believed to be responsible for the popularity of the poncho, having circulated it throughout Latin America and Spain. The Mapuche were known for their exceptional weaving skills, making the woven ponchos that we think of today.

Main Features of Poncho Sweaters

  • The design of a poncho is basically a section of woven or knitted fabric with a hole cut out for the head to fit through. This makes it an easy and comfortable garment to wear.
  • Poncho sweaters are typically layered over a close-fitting top. In colder weather, a poncho sweater may be worn over a long-sleeved T-shirt for a warm, sophisticated look.
  • Ponchos are remarkably versatile in that they may be worn for casual at-home wear, put-together professional wear, or even autumnal going-out attire. Made in a range of fabrics and colors, you can find a poncho sweater that’s ideal for your needs.
  • Traditional ponchos often feature vivid colors and bright prints, making for an excellent statement garment. You can take a basic outfit to a new level just by adding a poncho as your choice of outerwear.