Everyone should have a good selection of sweaters in their closet. Though they are popular and useful articles of clothing, sweaters are not often considered fashion accessories. What I mean by this is that they tend to be more function than form. Crew necks and v-necks are the workhorses of many a closet and polo collars add a jazzy punch to the lineup.
And this is just fine; not every piece of clothing you own is supposed to take center stage. Often with items like sweaters, the focus is more on material and construction than fashion. A navy handmade cashmere v-neck is a wonderful investment, but, in the end looks like most other blue v-neck sweaters.
You should still get it, of course, but chances are you want to have that in the wardrobe because it raises the quality of such a standard item to a new level. Others may not appreciate the attention to detail and exceptional pedigree, but you will. That is the approach many men take when adding to and editing their wardrobes.
The zip front sweater is another issue altogether. It is neither anonymous nor a functional workhorse. With its stand-up collar and decidedly urban cut, this versatile piece of clothing has a nice sense of modern-cum-classic style.
Europe has long had an affinity with this style of sweater; in fact a friend of mine has always called the full zip cardigan a “Euro sweater.” The style also has a slight resemblance to old military sweaters with a small shawl collar that could be turned up in cold weather. Either way, the heritage of the zip front sweater is grounded in a solid and timeless style.
When choosing this kind of sweater, either the full zip cardigan or the half-zip pullover is a good choice. With a crisp gingham button down and flat front khakis, a grey or navy cardigan can easily substitute for a sport coat in many circumstances. When zipped up, the split double zipper often found on these sweaters allows for the bottom zipper to be pulled up two or three inches to create a pleasing open-coat effect.
You can find zip sweaters in fabrics and weights from thick heavy cottons to fine luxurious cashmeres; letting you pair them with a range of outfits. Both cardigans and half-zips can easily move between tailored flannels for the office or jeans for hanging out.
Patterns like argyle look especially nice because the traditional designs are tempered by the sweater’s more modern style. Solid colors, either muted heathers or vibrant reds and oranges are equally attractive and versatile.