Sweater weather has commenced, and we couldn’t be more excited to bundle up in our favorite knits to get this cozy season going. As a certified summer enthusiast, the only things that really thrill me about winter weather are one, mulled wine and two, the endless layering options of winter fashion. And an essential piece to layering effectively is the sweater.
Because sweaters are a relatively broad category, we searched far and wide for the best options based on material, cut, and design. We even tapped three fashion stylists for advice on how to style our favorite pieces. The J.Crew cable knit sweater won our hearts over for its thick and warm knit, comfortable fit, and everlasting design. But for more of our favorites in the turtleneck, bouclé, and wool departments, keep scrolling.
J.Crew Cotton Cable Knit Sweater
What we love: It’s made of 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton.
What we don’t love: It is quite thick and warm, making this a sweater strictly for the winter season.
This classic cable knit crewneck comes in three neutral tones — beige, brown, and blue — as well as in one festive bright red color. You’ll find two small slits on either side of your hips for a better fit, while the rest of the sweater falls loosely around the body. Thanks to the thick, heavyweight material, rest assured you will be kept warm when wearing this sweater. But don’t let the word heavyweight scare you, it will still fit underneath your winter coat because it actually doesn’t feel too bulky. Most reviewers commented that it runs slightly small, too, so you’re free to size up. And as a bonus, J.Crew supports the sustainable sourcing and production of cotton, ensuring that the communities and environments can thrive in the industry.
Price at time of publish: $128
Material: Cotton | Colors: 4 | Size: XXS-3XL
Rag & Bone Ingrid Wool Ribbed Turtleneck
What we love: The 100 percent wool feels thick and heavy, which is ideal during the winter.
What we don’t love: You can only dry clean this sweater.
A sweater only becomes splurge-worthy when it offers a unique cut and design without being a momentary trend piece. For every minimalist that wants a mildly eye-catching detail, the white contrast stitchings sewn onto the outer edges of the sleeves and collar on this 100 percent wool sweater gives you just enough pizazz without being overdone. The sweater itself has a boxy fit to it with loose sleeves going almost down to your fingertips. In the dead of winter when the need to stay warm overpowers the need to look cute, fashion takes a backseat. However, this heavyweight sweater is not only thick and cozy, allowing you to layer several long sleeves underneath, but it also looks put together and high-end as well. Just be aware, you can only dry-clean this piece.
Price at time of publish: $495
Material: Wool | Colors: 2 | Size: XXS-L
Yousify Ribbed Chunky Knit Pullover
What we love: The lightweight material makes layering a breeze.
What we don’t love: It’s slightly more oversized than the picture makes it seem.
For anyone looking for an inexpensive pick, this lightweight sweater will make it easy to layer, yet on its own can still keep you warm. The reviewers who purchased the item say they received a well-constructed knit, regardless of which subdued color they chose. Although a few did state that it is slightly more oversized than pictured — not enough to size down completely, but just know that it will sit more loosely around you than advertised.
Price at time of publish: $39
Material: Acrylic, nylon, polyester | Colors: 7 | Size: S-XXL
Eloquii Mock Neck Sweater with Puff Sleeve
What we love: The pop of color adds a little brightness to a winter wardrobe.
What we don’t love: The hem is a little short.
Eloquii, a favorite for stylist Michaela Leitz, has an abundance of warm knits for the cooler months (like this two-toned sweater dress? Stunning). But for a more everyday piece, we picked this mock neck and puff sleeve sweater. The pop of color can brighten up a gloomy day, while cinched cuffs help keep any cool air out. And if you like the aesthetic of turtlenecks but dislike the constricting feeling of them, the mock neck delivers a similar appeal without the uncomfortable restraints. Some reviewers complain that the sweater falls short on their bodies — just above the hips — so we suggest pairing it with high-waisted jeans or skirts to ensure you have the coverage you desire. Plus, you can easily do a french tuck in that case.
Price at time of publish: $75
Material: Acrylic | Colors: 2 | Size: 14-28
Recreational Habits Cropped Turtleneck Sweater
What we love: It’s going to be very soft, thanks to its wool and cashmere makeup.
What we don’t love: Ivory will show dirt pretty quickly, so make sure to take good care of it.
As a POC-owned brand, Recreational Habits brings inclusivity to the historically exclusive preppy elite. With its green logo embroidered on the left chest, this turtleneck cropped sweater looks rather simple and elegant — a preppy staple — yet features small details to make it a touch more special. The hem, cuffs, and neck portion have a ribbed knit to them, which helps round out the overall look, and instead of being composed of just wool, the brand incorporated 30 percent cashmere, too, for additional softness. Unfortunately, they also happen to be two of the most difficult fabrics to clean and considering this comes in ivory, you’re going to want to be extra careful not to get it dirty.
Price at time of publish: $275
Material: Wool, cashmere | Colors: 1 | Size: XS-XL
Na-kd Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater
What we love: The long hem and sleeves give this piece a sophisticated look.
What we don’t love: I received mine with a few loose strands hanging out of the shoulder.
With slouchy shoulders and long, folded sleeves, this ribbed turtleneck sweater brings a laid-back appeal to your outfit. The sweater is quite long, with the hem reaching past your hips. I got to try this piece on, courtesy of the Na-kd team, and found that while I love the overall cut and style of it, I could have sized down for a more fitted look. I also found some loose strands popping out of the shoulder, which kind of speaks to the craftsmanship of this piece. A quick snap with a scissor fixed the issue and made it look new again. You can choose between five different colors (including brown, black, beige, green, blue, and pink), and each option is conveniently worn by a different model to give you a better visualization.
Price at time of publish: $31
Material: Acrylic, recycled acrylic, polyester | Colors: 5 | Size: XXS-XXL
Everlane Cashmere Crew
What we love: It’s made of 100 percent grade A cashmere, which lasts longer and pills less.
What we don’t love: It has to be hand washed or dry cleaned.
Everlane’s super-soft sweater, which we already named our best overall cashmere sweater, comes in a classic fitted crewneck, which will serve as an everyday piece for years to come. Like Linen, cashmere only gets softer with time, especially when it’s 100 percent grade A cashmere, which pills less and makes for a worthwhile investment that will last forever. Stylist Theodora thinks, “A crewneck sweater looks the chicest in cashmere while tucked in a pair of vintage denim with an oversized bomber jacket or blazer over it.”
Price at time of publish: $145
Material: Grade-A cashmere| Colors: 3 | Size: XXS-3XL
Uniqlo Lambswool Turtleneck Long Sleeve
What we love: Uniqlo helps you find your perfect fit through their size assist camera.
What we don’t love: The sleeves are a little short.
Not only is this 100 percent wool sweater from Uniqlo soft and luscious, but it’s also ridiculously affordable as well. It comes in expected neutrals, like black and ivory, but for a punchier addition to your wardrobe, try out the refreshing pink, violet, or blue. The best part about shopping online at Uniqlo is that they have a virtual size assistant that allows you to enter your information or scan your body for more accurate sizing. This way, the brand spares you the tedious task of returning or reordering the item — you get exactly what you want in your first try. However, reviewers commented that the sleeves will fall a little short, stopping just before your wrists.
Price at time of publish: $50
Material: Wool | Colors: 6 | Size: XXS-XXL
Sézane Noan Marinière
What we love: There are 4 buttons on either side of the sweater for an adjustable slit.
What we don’t love: You will have to size down for a more form fitting look.
Instead of giving us nautical inspiration, Parisian label Sézane brought more French inspiration forth with this organic cotton striped sweater. This sweater features two large slits on either side, which can be adjusted via four endearing buttons, while the boat neckline and loose fit only add to that certain je nais se quois appeal the French have perfected over the years. The brand does recommend sizing down if you wish for a more form-fitting look, however, because the sweater runs a little oversized on its own. That being said, the sleeves are rather slim and cut short around your wrists.
Price at time of publish: $105
Material: Organic cotton | Colors: 1 | Size: XXS-3XL
Ralph Lauren Slim Fit Cable-Knit Sweater
What we love: The 100 percent cotton material is extra soft.
What we don’t love: It is a slim fit and runs small.
We’d be remiss not to mention the classic Ralph Lauren cable-knit sweater on this list. Its timeless appeal works for just about any occasion. Lounging at home? Day at the office? Brunch by the beach? All are great excuses to reach for an RL sweater. Coming in five different colors, each features the classic polo logo in a contrasting thread (which unfortunately you cannot customize). We like that the 100 percent cotton feels extra soft to the touch, but because of the slim fit, expect it to hug the body — reviewers even say that it runs a bit small. Anyone who prefers a looser style should consider sizing up, especially if you intend to layer shirts underneath.
Price at time of publish: $128
Material: Cotton | Colors: 5 | Size: XXS-XXL
Helsa Hartley Bouclé Sweater
What we love: The extra chunky knit is both stretchy and warm.
What we don’t love: The deep V-neck might make it awkward to layer any shirts underneath.
Anyone looking to slip into something extra comfortable might like this bouclé sweater from Helsa, a brand founded by supermodel Elsa Hosk, which we think is everything from stylish to soft to sophisticated. The deep V-neck surrounded by a large collar that sits flat around your shoulders complements the chunky sleeves that extend past your hands and two pockets on the front. Overall, while this gives you a very laid-back and relaxed look, it still manages to feel upscale and appropriate for a workplace environment. Bouclé sweaters have a wonderful stretch and thickness to them that actually keep you warm — it will balance out the openness of the V-neck, which might make it difficult to layer any shirts underneath without looking awkward. Wear it as is or with a slim turtleneck bodysuit for extra warmth.
Price at time of publish: $388
Material: Nylon, wool, acrylic, viscose, cashmere | Colors: 1 | Size: XS-L
Banana Republic Essential Sweater
What we love: Without losing its elegance, the sweater has a relaxed and loose fit to it.
What we don’t love: It is very thin, so it won’t provide a lot of warmth.
For a simple staple, this Banana Republic essential sweater wins for both its style and durability. The neck, hem, and cuffs are all ribbed, while the sleeves and body have a generous length to them, extending past your palms and hips. It falls loosely around your body for a relaxed appeal that can easily be layered atop a button-down (or underneath a coat). I wouldn’t consider this the warmest of the bunch, as some people have pointed out that it’s quite thin, but for an everyday long-sleeve, it’s a great elegant option to fall back on.
Price at time of publish: $33
Material: Nylon, acrylic | Colors: 7 | Size: XXS-XL
La Ligne Marine Sweater
What we love: There are endless color and stripe combinations.
What we don’t love: It’s hand wash or dry clean only.
What better place to buy stripes from than a company literally named the Line? This sweater was created and designed by former Vogue editors, who see beauty in the universal appeal of a stripe. The Marin sweater proves that stripes in all color combinations (seriously, there are 17 different versions in just this option) deserve a spot in your closet because it never fails to look good. Each colorway varies in design a bit, too, giving you an excuse to own more than one. For example, instead of just basic stripes on the body as some of the colorways have, the tan/multi option has three accent-colored stripes on the sleeve that contrast the rest of the neutral sweater.
Made of 30 percent cashmere and 70 percent wool, the high-quality sweater will be durable and warm — there’s a reason why La Ligne is beloved by InStyle editors.
Price at time of publish: $295
Material: Organic Cotton | Colors: 15 | Size: XS-XL
Kenzo Boke Flower Cardigan
What we love: The endearing print manages to look mature despite the large florals covering the front and back.
What we don’t love: You can only hand wash this piece.
When you’re ready to switch up the classics and go for a little print, I highly recommend this endearing floral cardigan from Kenzo. Coming in navy blue and earthy green, it manages to look mature and polished despite the large flower prints covering the front and back. The cardigan, which is constructed from a wool and cotton blend, comes with a v-neck cut and four buttons down the front. Theodora says, “Cardigans are a staple for me in the winter, as I’ll wear them as a top with high-waisted jeans and lots of fun necklaces”.
Unfortunately, there are no pockets to be found anywhere on this piece, and you can also only hand wash this piece, according to the label. Personally, I find that the unique design outweighs just about everything for me.
Price at time of publish: $345
Material: Wool, cotton, elastane | Colors: 2 | Size: XS-L
Alex Mill Emma Cardigan in Lambswool
What we love: It was crafted with a little more density to give it some structure.
What we don’t love: It’s very thick and warm, making it less ideal for hotter climates.
More from the cardigan department, this borrowed-from-the-boys Alex Mill piece, which we named our best overall cardigan once before, is made of 80 percent lambswool, which compared to sheep wool, is softer and less likely to itch. The thick knit is structured into a boxy cut that works well as a layering piece over turtlenecks and long sleeves. Even on its own, the heavyweight material will be quite warm, so perhaps reserve this option for the dead of winter. While we love a good neutral oatmeal color, the sweater comes in a navy and paprika color as well, all with the same four delicate beige buttons down the front.
Price at time of publish: $165
Material: Lambswool, nylon | Colors: 2 | Size: XS-XL
Reformation Garret Cashmere Oversized Turtleneck
What we love: It’s made of 90 percent recycled cashmere.
What we don’t love: We wish it came in more than two colors.
We had to include this sustainably made cashmere turtleneck to close out this roundup. Without being too exaggerated, the turtleneck will provide enough warmth yet still hug your neck in a more sophisticated way. The long, loose sleeves end in folded cuffs just past your palms, while the hem stretches down past your hips for a more elongated style. It comes in two colors (bright yellow and chocolate brown), which would make a cozy addition to any closet, but we wish it came in more options.
Price at time of publish: $268
Material: Recycled cashmere, cashmere | Colors: 3 | Size: XS-XL
What to Keep in Mind
A sweater is supposed to be two things: comfortable and cute. In order to dive into the first point, let’s talk about the material. To keep it affordable, we found many pieces that contain polyester, acrylic, and nylon, which, yes, have a bad reputation. But when mixed with natural fibers, like wool, cashmere, and cotton, you’ll receive the same benefits, only at a lower price. Natural fibers tend to be soft, water-resistant, and durable, which is why they’re our go-to pick for sweater material.
Wool, which can be found in the Alex Mill Emma Cardigan in lambswool and Uniqlo Lambswool Turtleneck Long Sleeve, is a highly breathable material that simultaneously has excellent temperature regulation properties. For very cold days, Theodora opts “for wool or alpaca pieces”. Although they are known at times to be itchy, they still make a great layering piece. “I make sure to layer a cotton t-shirt underneath since I have sensitive skin,” she continues. Leitz says that the itchiness “normally disappears after a few washes,” adding that “you can also buy mixed materials as wool with some percentage of cashmere for a softer feeling.” A great example of this can be found in the Recreational Habits Cropped Turtleneck Sweater.
Cashmere on the other hand is famous for its extraordinarily soft fibers. The Everlane The Cashmere Crew and Reformation Garret Cashmere Oversized Turtleneck will provide you with a luxurious look and feel.
For a natural, non-animal byproduct, opt for cotton, which can be found in the majority of comfortable sweaters. There’s an endless amount of ways you can weave the material to create a worthwhile affordable option that provides both warmth and durability. “Sometimes we tend to sweat during winter beneath our thick coats, and cotton is known for its absorbing features,” says Leitz. Our best overall pick J.Crew Cotton Cable Knit Sweater, for example, is made of 100 percent cotton.
There is no right or wrong fit for a sweater — it’s all about what you feel most comfortable in — however, you should think about when you plan to wear it. For a casual everyday piece, go for a crewneck, like the Everlane The Cashmere Crew, or a V-neck, such as the Banana Republic Essential Sweater, that can be worn to just about any occasion. The oversized fit of the Rag & Bone Ingrid Wool Ribbed Turtleneck makes more of a statement, but for you to have a little room to layer more pieces on top because it adds a lot of extra bulk. And of course, we cannot forget the turtleneck Just like the Na-kd Ribbed Turtleneck Sweater, turtlenecks offer style, warmth, and versatility, but try to save these for truly chilly days because they’ll be the warmest choice.
Your Questions, Answered
What is the best way to store sweaters?
Don’t hang sweaters — fold them, especially a wool or cashmere sweater, which is more prone to stretching when hung and store them away in your dresser. Keep them in a cool, dry place, especially if stored for a long period of time. We even suggest investing in items like cedar blocks to store them in order to naturally keep moths away (and prevent your clothes from being chewed apart).
How would you style a sweater?
Of course, this answer depends on what style of sweater you chose. “I love styling my turtleneck sweaters with big silver jewelry, micro miniskirts, tights, and fun chunky boots,” says Julia Fox’s stylist Briana Andalore. When it comes to oversized sweaters, Leitz likes to “style an oversized fluffy sweater with jeans, Chelsea boots, a big woolen scarf in a beautiful popping color like purple”. While balancing out a loose-fitted top with a form-hugging bottom is always a safe go-to, I personally love to go for a top to bottom baggy attire. The Helsa Hartley Boucle Sweater, for example, pairs well with pantsuits or mom jeans. Oversized on top of oversized can get sloppy quickly, so pairing it with a nice blazer or polished shoes is vital.
Why Shop with Us
Bianca Kratky is a commerce writer for InStyle with two years of experience covering fashion and lifestyle products. In order to write this article, she consulted InStyle editors as well as celebrity stylists ( Britt Theodora, Michaela Leitz, and Briana Andalore) to get an insider scoop on what to consider and how to style the best sweaters. Thorough research was completed to understand the material and best storing practices of sweaters.