There are a million essential menswear pieces on the market today, and each of them can be defined by their long-running history. Throughout this history, they’ve undergone various different redesigns, renovations, and deviations from their original form, resulting in the clothing that we recognize today. But, one of the genre’s most notable garments, the crewneck sweater, has been around for as long as we can remember.
Being around for “as long as we can remember” doesn’t mean much if there isn’t any factual evidence to support it. Believe it or not, the crewneck hasn’t evolved much, if at all, from its original iteration over 100 years ago. In 1920, the style piece was brought to life by Benjamin Russell Jr., a football player at the University of Alabama who wanted a reprieve from the itchy wool offerings that he and his teammates were forced to wear during (and after) games. To remedy this, he created a more refined variant that called upon a relaxed fit, “crewneck” cut, and comfortable cotton construction. The rest was history. Below, we’ve outlined a handful of our favorite offerings from around the industry; many of which aren’t a far cry from the iconic garment that was worn by Russell Jr. and his team nearly a century ago. So suit up, it back, and let’s take a look at some contemporary style essentials.
Pendleton Men’s Shetland Crew-Neck
There are common, everyday crewneck sweaters, and then there are ones made by Pendleton. The high-profile brand has made a name for itself by bringing premium styles and garments into a more affordable realm, and the company’s Shetland Crew-Neck is a tried and true example of its commitment to quality. Each example is made with a 100% wool fabric, and features classically-styled ribbing at its neck, waist, and cuffs, helping to seal in warmth, while still sporting a more refined silhouette.
Outerknown has a penchant for the creation of sustainable and ethical clothing, and they haven’t broken their stride with the SUR crew neck sweater. This comfortable essential features a durable, but soft hemp-cotton french terry, creating the perfect balance between a more heavyweight garment, and a breathable, lightweight lounge piece. Not only does this make the SUR a standup example for everyday wear, but it also makes it versatile enough to be used year-round, meaning you won’t have to invest in a different sweater once the temperature decides to dip.
Buck Mason Twill Terry
Buck Mason’s Twill Terry holds true to the brand’s pursuit of established menswear, offering buyers something that’s not too flashy, and not too dull. Each vintage-inspired garment has been crafted from heavy-weight cotton terry, allowing it to drape evenly over the torso, without hindering movement. Aside from its more pronounced demeanor, each example has been built with softness in mind, ensuring that you’ll feel right at home whether wearing it for a night on the town or a lazy morning indoors.
Taylor Stitch ‘The Crewneck’
Taylor Stitch’s well-made menswear is as close as we’re going to get to modern-day classic, and the brand’s ‘The Crewneck’ sweater is a testament to that observation. It’s been built from the ground up with a mid-weight blend of organic cotton and recycled polyester, resulting in an ultra-soft silhouette that’s as environmentally-conscious as it is comfortable. Furthermore, the sweater’s unique mixture of materials provides additional warmth and softness, while remaining sturdy enough to take on virtually anything that the outdoors has to offer. The best part? Each garment features a set of roomy raglan sleeves, as well as looped french terry that doesn’t lay directly on your skin, promoting adequate cooling and air circulation throughout the day.
Todd Snyder x Champion Heavyweight Pocket
Todd Snyder is one of menswear’s most recognizable names, so when the brand linked up with Champion to create the Heavyweight Pocket crewneck sweater, we were adamant. Like many of the pair’s garments, the Heavyweight Pocket arrives as part of the Foundation Collection — a group of hand-selected examples that provide an essential basis for every man’s well-rounded wardrobe. It features a super-soft fleece construction, a weathered garment dye, and a durable cotton/polyester blend that will keep it ticking for many winters to come. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Champion collaboration without the brand’s iconic detailing, which has been hand-pressed (and cut) using a specialized mold before being applied to the sweater’s exterior.
J.Crew Everyday Cashmere Crewneck
J.Crew’s approach to affordable essentials is certainly worth noting, but when it comes to the Everyday Cashmere Crewneck, we’re happy to say that it fulfills its role as a mid-range style staple. Not only does the brand’s great-looking sweater boast a premium cashmere persona, but it also remains intrinsically lightweight, offering a free range of movement and breathability that’s somewhat characteristic of the fabric. As a result, the Everyday Crewneck is exactly that — a functional, adaptable example that can be utilized on its own, in tandem with other garments, or as a lightweight base layer that will give you outfit a bit more “oomph.”
Reigning Champ Men’s Mid Weight Terry
Reigning Champ’s traditional approach toward menswear might be a bit too training and fitness-focused for you to take their Mid Weight Terry seriously, but believe us when we say that it can keep up with the genre’s best. This simplistic garment might fare well in the gym and on the track, but it works just as great as a stylish mid/base-layer, providing exceptional warmth, comfort, and mobility for those who don’t need a suite of high-end add-ons to make their ensemble more fashionable. To round things out, they’ve even included classic ribbing details on the sides and edges of the sweater, ensuring that it adheres to the iconic stylings set forth by its predecessors.
Saturdays NYC Simon Sweatshirt
Saturdays NYC’s Simon Sweatshirt might be one of the most simplistic garments on this list, but for what it lacks in complexity and cutting-edge manufacturing principles, it more than makes up for in understated aesthetic. Sometimes, the smallest things can make the biggest impact on the success of an outfit, and when it comes to the brand’s Simon crew neck, it’s safe to say that its all-black, garment-dyed demeanor might be the savior you’ve been looking for. Surprisingly, this lightweight example seems far more omnipresent than it really is, thanks to its 100% cotton construction and a Spring-inspired drape, making it a great choice for those who are looking to take a more laid-back approach to those summer nights.
Everlane Grade-A Cashmere Crew
Everlane’s Grade-A Cashmere Crew is an interesting departure from the brand’s affordable, entry-level essentials. This medium to top-range garment features a deluxe cashmere construction, helping it to remain lightweight, semi-durable, and warm, thanks to its heat-retaining hollow fibers. As stated by the brand, not all cashmere is created equal — meaning that the garment’s Grade-A selection has been painstakingly sourced to ensure the utmost comfort and class, while garnering more unparalleled softness as time goes on.
Entireworld Supersoft Crew
Entireworld’s Supersoft Crew was made for the enthusiast wearer if there ever was such a thing. If not, there is now — especially since the garment’s ultra-comfortable cotton-cashmere construction has been touted by the brand as one of the softest variants on the market. Not only is the Crew exceptionally smooth, but it’s also roomy and breathable, promoting its utilization as a single torso-worn piece, or a base layer. Whichever route you choose, you’ll be gifted with an impeccable experience that might just change your outlook on the crewneck as a solo garment that’s substantial enough to hold its own against other defined menswear staples.
NWKC 002 Crew
NWKC’s 002 Crew sweater was built to fill two different niches: hardwearing, and stylish. To achieve this, the brand found a way to strike a perfect balance between bagginess and slim-fit, resulting in a comfortable alternative crafted from 9.5-ounce Merino dual cloth. Thanks to the garment’s refined fit, you’ll be able to enjoy a full range of movement, while still feeling secure from the cold. Plus, a 100% Merino Wool construction is never a bad thing, especially when you’re looking for something a bit more “premium” to pair with your more formal attire.
Handvaerk’s Varsity sweater has found a way to redefine the iconic menswear piece, offering buyers a unique garment that’s both understated and essential. Instead of adding a ton of bells and whistles to the classic silhouette, the brand has opted to pare back the item’s design, resulting in a structured drape, a comfortable loopback French Terry construction, and a unique V-stitch at the neck. To give it even more of a leg-up on its competition, Handvaerk has also implemented a specially-developed Peruvian Pima cotton, providing wearers with a stable middle ground between a close-cropped, tailor-made fit, and a more relaxed silhouette.
Norse Projects Sigfred Brushed-Wool
Norse Projects’ Sigfred Brushed-Wool crewneck is no pushover when it comes to cold-weather wear, and thanks to the brand’s extensive knowledge on the subject, you can rest assured that you’ll be getting the most bang for your buck if you decide to add one to your arsenal. Instead of incorporating different styles and blends of fabric, the brand has opted for a naturally-warming wool construction, softening it prior to wearing through its unique brushing process. There are even those classic ribbed trims that you’ve come to know and love at each of its openings, helping to seal in warmth as its generated and keep you cozy during those colder afternoons.
Sunspel Men’s Lambswool Crew
Sunspel’s Men’s Lambswool Crew was knitted in the company’s Scottish factory and utilizes yarn from one of the world’s oldest spinners in Fife. If that doesn’t provide any sort of insight when it comes to the garment’s premium construction, there’s something even more intriguing that will seal the deal. As it happens, the Lambswool Crew’s unique manufacturing process also takes it to one of Scotland’s most renowned springs, where it’s washed in natural waters until it becomes inherently soft. Now that’s what we call a commitment to the creation of one of the genre’s most notable style pieces.
Mr. P Slim Fit Cashmere
Mr. P rounds out our list with its very own Slim Fit Cashmere offering, and like many of the brand’s well-informed garments, it’s been built to offer the most refined take on the classic as possible. This crew-cut offering boasts an ultra-fine 18-gauge cashmere construction, an iconic shade of navy, and a slim-fitting demeanor that lends itself to wear alongside other smart, professional garments, including blazers and sport coats. There’s even an ottoman stitch on its neckline, providing a pronounced design choice that pays homage to the high-end, artisanal garments that paved the way for our favorite contemporary crew necks.
The 6 Men's Sweater Types You Should Know
Crew necks are one of menswear’s most popular cuts, but when it comes to sweaters, there are a plethora of styles that you should utilize at different points in time. Head over to our guide on the men’s sweater types you should know to get an in-depth understanding regarding the industry’s flagship silhouettes.