The best men’s cardigan sweaters have wildly enduring, multi-generational appeal. What’s the one thing Arnold Palmer, Kurt Cobain, and Young Thug can all agree on? Cardigans are dope as all hell. Grab a thin dressy cardigan, and it turns a boring old suit into the nattiest three-piece you own. Throw on a gigantic, freaky patterned take, and you’re instantly vibing out with Dude-level chill. And no matter where you land between those two extremes, the best cardigans will make whatever you’re wearing—whether it’s a graphic tee and Dickies or a slim turtleneck and trousers—feel a little more considered and dignified and just plain cool. To help you reach that higher plane of fit-dom, we’ve assembled a roster full of winners—the very best men’s cardigan sweaters, thank you very much—to button up in from now till the end of time.
The Best Really-Feeling-Yourself Cardigan
There’s no better introduction to Francesco Risso’s vision for Marni than the brand’s consistently excellent knitwear, a fixture of NBA tunnels and high-flying fit pics since the designer introduced them. Though it might conjure images of a certain ‘90s-era grunge icon, its made-in-Italy pedigree is better suited to swanky night outs than mosh pits (but if you do decide to freak it over a white tee and your best hanging-on-for-life ripped jeans, we certainly won’t hold it against you). If you want a cardigan that feels as cozy as it looks—and will earn you knowing nods from jawnz enthusiasts on the street—this fuzzy mohair joint is just the ticket.
The Best Hulked-Out Cardigan
In the days of #menswear 1.0, few pieces signaled your commitment to quality threads quite like a chunky shawl-collar cardigan (and, like, the weight of the selvedge denim you paired it with). So if the mere sight of this beefy wool style from Drake’s has you scrambling to repress images of Steve McQueen, chill: a decade-plus after Tumblr’s heyday, the shawl-collar cardigan still feels like a piece that belongs on menswear’s Mount Rushmore. Sure, this ribbed beauty costs as much as some coats, but it’s also one of the few cardigans you can bet will remain a go-to in your rotation while other styles cycle through.
The Best Thoroughly Right-Now Cardigan
We’re not sure when, exactly, the sickest sweaters on the market started looking a whole lot like your aunt’s quarantine knitting projects, but we’re not complaining about it. Corridor’s cardigan is handmade in Peru out of super high-quality cotton and done up in a pattern inspired by the type of vintage blankets you remember hunkering down in on visits to said auntie’s house over the holidays. If you’re looking for a sweater that offers all the comforts of a home-cooked meal coupled with the swaddling powers of a well-worn family afghan, this is the one to reach for.
The Best Anti-Itch Cardigan
We love cardigans of all kinds—alpaca, cashmere, and mohair, oh my!—but nothing quite beats the lounge-around coziness of fleece. J.Crew’s is made from the same stuff as the brand’s premium run of sweats, except unlike most of those, you can wear this over a crisp Oxford shirt to the office. Just wanna wear it while you bing House of the Dragon for ten hours straight? Cool: It’s about to be the most stylish ten hours you’ve ever spent on the couch.
The Best Vintage-Inspired Cardigan
Remember when we told you that Beams Plus needs to be on your radar? This cardigan is exactly why. It’s a perfect distillation of vintage Americana, filtered through the prism of Japan’s answer to J.Crew. In other words, it’s a retro-doused cardigan that looks like the type of sweater you’d catch a ’60s crooner wearing while belting out the blues in a smoky jazz bar—but instead of digging through the vintage bins to unearth a similar version, you can buy it from your phone sans the cigarette burns.
The Best No-Frills Cardigan
Sometimes you don’t need your cardigan to be warm enough to replace your coat or loud enough to be the focal point of your fit. Sometimes you just need a crisp, quiet background player, something that’ll fit under a blazer and won’t make you drip sweat in the office. That’s this Lands’ End guy. It’s made out of fine gauge cotton, comes in a quartet of pleasing neutral tones, and for an extra $8 you can go full prep and get it monogrammed.
The Best Cardigan for Layering
There’s nothing wrong with a simple cardigan in a solid hue—see above!—but you also don’t have to go full grandpa’s-tripping-off-the-Simvastatin-again to make a statement. The phrase “classics with a twist” might be overused to the point of meaningless in the world of men’s style, but it really does sum up Todd Snyder’s eminently approachable appeal. Case in point: the brand’s striped Merino wool cardigan, which has a luxe hand-feel just light enough to maximize its layering potential, as a standalone piece of outerwear during the fall or as a snazzy mid-layer once winter rolls around.