Personal Style

    In Praise of the Sweater: Your Closet’s Wardrobe Workhorse

    18th December 2012


    {One sweater, three ways}

    Recently, StyleSeek asked me to review the wares of one of their brand partners. I chose a shawl collar sweater from Bonobos, because 1) I love a guy in a good-looking sweater, and 2) I just really like saying the word “bonobos.” Bonobos. Bonobos bonobos bonobos bonobos bonobos. See? Super fun.

    I wore the sweater for the plane ride to Wisconsin at Thanksgiving – gotta test drive the material myself, right? I paired it with the leather leggings and sneaks from this picture, topped with a beat-up jean jacket and fur vest over that – an outfit I was actually pretty proud of (so chic! so downtown! so comfortable!), but of course forgot to snap a pic….then proceeded to leave the sweater in Wisconsin when I flew back to NYC. I’m a very forgetful packer. So sue me.

    But! While home, I asked my brother and dad how they’d style the oatmeal-colored knit, and thankfully, I managed to remember to even take a few pictures. Below, the lovely men in my life put their own spin on the sweater. I love that my dad paired his with cords (not shown) and a patterned puffer vest in brown, while my brother layered his over a festive plaid button-down and tucked a scarf in the collar.

    Check it out:

    SG’s DAD!

    {my dad – one of the best-dressed guys around}

    I like it. And really? Sweaters don’t get enough love in a guy’s closet. They are the workhorse of your wardrobe, but I think a lot of us – men and women alike – take them for granted.

    The right sweater can make a suit feel more relaxed, or your weekend bum-around jeans feel more dressy. That’s why every guy needs a good sweater (or four) in his top drawer that makes him feel put-together, no matter what else he has on.

    Some things are universal. Like sweaters. I always know that, if I didn’t pack properly, I can steal a sweater from my mom, or my sister, and look great. Same for guys – sweaters are cross-generational. To wit…

    SG’s BRO!

    {my brother hated having his picture taken, but look at him – he’s a natural!}


    I know, I know, I’m as disappointed as you are that you don’t get to see it styled my way – I know you’re saying to yourself, “But if only I could see it with leggings and a fur vest; then I’d know just what to do with it!”

    But really, there’s only so much you can do with a men’s large sweater before you run out of styling options that are appropriate for anything but brunching with friends and running weekend errands.

    Tell me: do you dress your sweaters up or down? What’s your favorite sweater in your closet?


    {Clothing was provided by StyleSeek for consideration. It doesn’t even do me any good because I’m pretty sure my brother’s lost it by now anyway}

    For more on StyleSeek, go here and here.

    • average joe

      Your dad is a dapper gent. I love his vest.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Thanks! I like it too…that’s why I bought it for him for Christmas two years ago :)

        It’s Joseph Abboud, bt-dubs

    • average joe

      My favorite sweater right now is an dark blue wool Original Penguin. It’s double breasted and has sort of a quasi mock/turtle neck thing going. The arm holes are cut really high so it fits close to the body and the double breasted aspect of it makes it easy to dress up with a dress shirt underneath, or just button up the buttons all the way up the neck. Here’s a picture of it:

      • Style Girlfriend

        Oh, that’s sharp!

    • Mike Thompson

      I love sweaters. Being a Midwest guy, they are an absolute necessity. My favorite sweater right now is the Lambswool Inverness Fair Isle sweater from JCrew. I was tentative to hop on the Fair Isle bandwagon, but I always get a lot of compliments on it when I wear it.

      • Style Girlfriend

        mMM, you know I love me some Fair Isle:

    • Derric

      I’m not a huge sweater guy being in southern California, but I do love me some cardigans. Does that count for this post? I like cardigans better for their flexibility. Can be worn open or closed, can look good dressed down with a t-shirt or dressed up with a shirt and tie, and taking it on and off doesn’t mess with my hair.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Cardigans totally count! I find guys are sometimes not on the cardigan train though. Seems too “fashion-y” for them, but it sounds like you’ve mastered the look :)

        • Chris Rogers

          I’ve had friends tell me that cardigans are a no no for a guy with the last name of Rogers…too many tie-ins with a lovable older gentleman who talks with puppets. :)

        • Derric

          I thought of them as a women’s thing for a long time which is what deterred me. Not really sure what brought me around (other than realizing how practical they are); my guess is seeing Daniel Craig in a cardigan.

    • Marc Ryan

      Hello there Megan, huge fan of your site, first-time poster.
      My favorite sweater right now is the light gray crewneck sweater by Todd Snyder from the Gap x GQ collaboration. I was hesitant about paying $60 for it at first. I waited it out a couple weeks and waited for a nice 30% off entire purchase promotion and picked it up in an XS for a final sale price of…..$9.50!! I never realized how versatile it could be until I started wearing it consecutively. I’ve garnered nothing but compliments each time I’ve worn it with friends or at work. It’s my absolute favorite I need more!!

      • Style Girlfriend

        I loved the Gap x GQ collection! Glad you were able to snag such a good deal!!

    • Chris Rogers

      In regards to your brothers outfit and in the words of Barney Stinson, “Nailed It!”

    • dougwake

      Black cashmere V-neck- can be worn with just about anything, the black helps slim the appearance of holiday feasting weight, and of course, ladies always appreciate the feel. Can’t go wrong.

      • browneagle44 ロベルト

        It’s true. If you have to choose, go with a black or dark grey V-Neck, you can dress it up or down. Lately I’ve been getting into shawl collars, but they’re not as versatile.

    • Sterling

      Any info on SG Brother’s shoes? They look like a nice boot. Interested in the brand.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Checking! He’s out of the country at the moment (and is notoriously terrible at checking email…) will get back to you as soon as I hear!

    • Barron

      That looks great. Your dad’s vest looks awesome as well. Where’s THAT thing from?

      • Barron

        whoops, just read your comment re: the vest below, my bad. nice choice!

    • brianmo95

      Picked up this one recently for 40% off and paired it with a Tartan plaid J. Crew button up in red & navy. Felt surprisingly super comfortable with this look.

    • Zachary

      I’m obsessed with sweaters. So obsessed that I want to live somewhere cold enough to wear them year round. My favorite sweater as far as looks is probably my Land’s End Fair Isle knit sweater; bright colors and crazy patterns. As far as feel goes, nothing beats my cable knit cashmere from Ben Silver. I have various others sweaters like a shawl collar cardigan and merino wool v-necks. Sweaters are amazing, and they seem to be overlooked too often.

      • Style Girlfriend

        You guys know I love Fair Isle, so I’m definitely on board with that!

    • browneagle44 ロベルト

      I just go this in the mail today, and it’s already a favorite. I wear neutral sweaters in my business-casual workplace, so this gives a bit of personality to everything else.

      • Style Girlfriend

        Oooh I like! And I agree, that is a LOT of personality (in a good way!)

    • the amazing snyder-man

      Just picked up two of these for less than $22 dollars total (and I have it on good authority that I have a third coming to me as a gift):

      Mostly synthetic, which is a bummer, but they’re warm, fit well on my slim frame and you can’t beat that price.

      • Style Girlfriend

        That looks like a good “wear it to death and throw it away next year” kind of sweater. Like you said, for $22, you can’t beat the price. Maybe next year we’ll get you in natural fibers! :)

    • Kevin Reed

      I just bought a shawl sweater this season, and I love the hell out of it. It’s such a versatile item I could (and would) wear it with a simple t-shirt and jeans, over a nice plaid button-up, or even under one of my blazers.

      Also, this is my first time commenting, and I love the site! It’s hyper awesome to get another perspective on guy style. Keep up the great work you’re doing!

      • Style Girlfriend

        Those all sound like awesome ways to wear your sweater. What color is it?

        And thank you for commenting! And reading! Happy to have you :)

    • Eric

      Your boys rock those styles, I have to say!
      For when I’m going really casual I just throw a sweater on over a V-neck tee. To dress it up I like a dress shirt and tie with the sweater on top, tie tucked in.

      • Style Girlfriend

        yes! I like both those ways of styling a sweater