The saying that “you can’t have too much of a good thing” definitely applies to the best striped sweaters. While I swear by a single camel wool coat each winter and named a straight-leg denim pair my all-time best jeans a decade ago, I can always create space in my closet for another Breton stripe knit.
From oversize turtlenecks with black and cream stripes to cashmere pullovers with thick, sunset-tone shades, the best striped sweaters of 2023 showcase the infinite styling potential of a well-placed line. Decades ago, knits streaked with cream, black, navy, or camel stripes cemented their status as eternal wardrobe essentials with help from icons like Jane Birkin. All they needed were a tailored jean and one of the best ballet flats to look put-together. Fresh twists are so much more than neutral-on-neutral crewnecks, however, so there’s enough variety to justify ordering more than one knit. Nowadays, “most sweaters can be very flattering and at times even sexy,” stylist Alexis Badiyi said. “For something unexpected, I love styling against the traditional feeling of a striped sweater, that to me can feel a bit preppy or buttoned up.” Out of the ordinary sweaters like Acne Studios’ dip-dyed oversize knit or the sensual slim fit of a Khaite polo sweater are evidence. But if you want to go the French girl route with your stripes, classic options from Sézane and Kule will have you covered.
Read on for the 21 best striped sweaters that are so essential, you may have to shop more than one. Each one was chosen based on its fabrication, fit, shopper recommendations, and my own testing—and each one can be worn a different way.
Kule’s striped sweaters have a habit of working their way into my conversations with other editors. It’s half because Kule has one of the widest ranges of stripe colors to choose from, half because the sweaters keep their fresh-from-the-box quality even after dozens of wears. (The same standard applies to the brand’s best T-shirts.) Kule’s stripes have even landed on Oprah’s Favorite Things list.
Colors: Cream/navy, navy/cream, black/cream, heather gray/navy, cream multi, and more
Sweater weather is in full swing, and what better way to celebrate than by slipping into of the best cashmere sweaters on a crisp day? Their soothing softness might be the extra dose of comfort you need right now, whether you’re layering up for an office commute or snuggling up at home on the weekend. And while the best cashmere sweaters for women have a reputation for having a high price tag, direct-to-consumer brands have given the covetable piece a more approachable price point, starting at the $100 mark (not to mention these affordable steals make for fabulous holiday gifts).
If you’re unfamiliar with the material, cashmere comes from the fluffy undercoat of cashmere and pashmina goats and has been used to make yarn, textiles, and, of course, clothing for centuries. Unlike sheep’s wool, cashmere is softer and more supple, cementing its place as a luxury staple in your wardrobe. When shopping for your choice of cashmere, there are a few helpful tips to consider: First off, determine what type of style, warmth, and weight you’re after—this will be a defining factor in your sweater’s durability over time. And finally, if possible, try and get a good look at your cashmere choice in person to check for any pills, test out its touch and feel, and inspect for any loose threads in the stitching. And when it comes to caring for your cashmere, avoid any unwanted visits from moths by always washing by hand.
What’s even better is that many designers and direct-to-consumer brands like Everlane and Stella McCartney have committed to ethical and sustainable cashmere practices so that you can not only look good in your cashmere of choice but feel good about it too. Below, we’ve pulled together a handful of stylish sweaters to invest in. This mix of classic silhouettes will stay fresh season after season and includes yummy oversized turtlenecks from Vince and Allude, crewnecks from Tory Burch and The Frankie Shop, alongside perfect polos from Alex Mill and Toteme and cult-favorite cardigans from Khaite and Proenza Schouler. Festive Fair Isle finds that easily transition from the streets to the slopes are also up for grabs.
Whether you’re planning for a winter weekend spent in the snow, snuggly staying put in the city, or just simply looking to treat yourself or a loved one this holiday season, here are 44 of the best cashmere sweaters to consider that are as chic as they are cozy.
A statement striped sweater should be a staple in your winter wardrobe—or any wardrobe for that matter. Of course, Everlane’s striped cashmere classic is at the top of our list, though, the options from Kule, Anine Bing, and Extreme Cashmere are equally desirable. Think beyond nautical summer fashion and style yours for winter with suede boots and a chic camel coat.
Kate Middleton knows how to amp-up the glamour for an evening appearance—think Alexander McQueen suiting, Catherine Walker coats and Alessandra Rich dresses. But Kate also knows how to serve an off-duty looks for her more relaxed public engagements that are camera-ready, while still being as democratic and carefully considered as any of her other styling decisions.
On her more casual days, she tends to rely on a trusted capsule of countryside classics that are quintessentially British, such as waxy outdoor jackets, Breton tops and slim-fit jeans, that are practical options for our notoriously drizzly climate. For her latest outing, the Princess opted to style all three of these staples at once, wearing a look that you’re likely to see at every pub in the Cotswolds or West London park on a Sunday afternoon.
During a visit to Dadvengers, a community for fathers and their children in Arnos Grove in North London, Kate Middleton turned to her reliable everyday basics once again — items that have all become something of a uniform for the royal. She wore a black and white long-sleeve striped top, an olive-hued waxed outdoor Barbour jacket with visible heritage check lining (that she has worn previously), high-waisted skinny jeans in a dark blue wash and lug-sole Chelsea boots.
The wax jacket has long been a staple of the royal family—it has been reported that the late Queen Elizabeth II was so attached to her Barbour Beaufort jacket that when the brand offered to replace her waxed style with a newer iteration, she opted to hold on to her well-loved original for 25 years. The royal family photo albums will be filled with pictures over the decades of King Charles II, the late Princess Diana, Prince William and the Princess of Wales wearing their wax jackets on relaxed royal visits and traversing the Highlands countryside.
Even though this specific occasion required an outdoor, playground-friendly outfit and nothing too formal (like her go-to tailored trouser suits), Kate managed to maintain her signature polish. This is a look we’ll no doubt see her sticking to for years, if not decades, to come.
Shop the Princess’ classic look, below. Plus, more British heritage pieces.
A cashmere sweater is a versatile, durable, seasonless investment that can last decades (as long as you keep the moths away). But choosing the right one can be overwhelming because you’re paying a premium price for an inherently luxurious staple. Cashmere comes at a heftier price because cashmere yarn comes from the fluffy undercoat of cashmere goats, which makes for a softer and warmer fiber than sheep’s wool. (Fascinatingly, cashmere goats are a type and not a breed; according to the Cashmere Goat Association, almost all goats can grow cashmere, but only selectively bred flocks produce it “in significant amounts.”)
Plenty of brands are now offering more affordable options. To make sure you’re not sacrificing quality for price, I tried out sweaters from some of the top budget brands in that space as well as some luxury options to see how they hold up. I mainly tested each sweater’s feel, weight, and durability. (Note: I’ve had the sweaters for as long as a couple of months and as short as one week. I’ll have updates on that last point as time goes on.) I also reached out to stylish folks to see which ones they thought are worth the cost or skimp on quality. Read on to see our picks from every price point.
Sizing: XS to XL | Style details: Crewneck with stripes | Price: $$$
After a few of her sweaters “were decimated by moths,” former Strategist writer Hilary Reid bought this Kule cashmere sweater on sale. She says it’s the “softest, most substantial-feeling cashmere sweater” she owns. It has an “ideal and elusive crewneck fit: It’s cut comfortably close enough to wear on its own, but can still accommodate a shirt underneath without looking bulky.” It comes in a wide range of classic patterns of black, white, brown, and navy stripes, as well as less-traditional patterns that feature fun multicolored stripes.
Sound the alarm! Alert the town crier! Taylor Swift has tried the pantless trend—at Bradley Cooper’s house, no less. Swift, Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, and Hugh Jackman rendezvoused at the Oscar winner’s Greenwich Village home, and the singer took the latest look for a test drive.
While it may be a balmy 75-degree day in New York, Swift was dressed for the first day of fall on an ivy-covered campus, wearing a Stella McCartney rugby shirt as a minidress. The black long-sleeve landed mid thigh, with two slits on each side. A white, v-neck collar, and McCartney’s “Pony Club” insignia on the chest—a horse’s head and horseshoe embroidered in gold—added more prep appeal.
Swift paired the rugby shirt with a pair of knee-high chestnut boots, a tan leather crossbody with gold hardware from Tod’s, and her tan Ralph Lauren baseball cap, which added a lowkey touch to the outfit. (With her two animal logos on one outfit, Swift joins the ranks of fashionable horse girls, alongside McCartney, Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid).
The singer is also the latest celebrity to test drive the pantless trend. Gisele Bündchen tried out the look during New York Fashion Week, wearing an oversized denim jacket sans bottoms. Emma Corrin has rocked the scant Miu Miu briefs both on and off the runway. And, of course, the look’s most ardent supporter, Jenner, has previously demonstrated a preppy iteration of the look with oversized button-ups, boxy blazers, and loafers. But while Jenner’s approach to prep is more “just woke up in an Ivy League dorm room,” Taylor Swift’s take is more, “left my jodhpurs at the stable.” We’re glad to see that a look missing such a key ingredient still can adhere to so many unique personal styles.
Shop Swift’s Stella McCartney dress, below. Plus, more rugby shirts.
Wool sweaters might seem the best winter option, but cotton can be just as luxe—often at a fraction of the cost. Plus: expert tips for finding (and cleaning) the best men’s and women’s styles.
LAST YEAR, New York designer Molly Moorkamp made an audacious decision. She replaced her namesake line’s merino-wool-blend sweaters with cotton knits, which she now sells year-round—even in winter. The 100% cotton styles range from a cold-weather cable-knit turtleneck to a four-seasons-friendly striped option. Her knits, she claims, have proven more popular since she made the switch, possibly because cotton costs less than most wools and is easier to clean at home. Plus: “The customer knows what cotton is going to be,” said Moorkamp. There are no surprises. “And nobody has said, ‘I miss the merino.’”
Most people view cotton sweaters, unfairly, as summer-only options. When fall blusters in, they flock to cashmere- and merino-wool knits, convinced ovine fibers make superior fall and winter fare. But if you pick the right ones, cotton knits can hold their own in cooler months. Some of this season’s thick-gauge styles by brands including Alex Mill, Kule and Buck Mason are so cozy, they might have impressed Roald Amundsen—the guy who discovered the South Pole.
The arguments for cotton are many. For one, it can be super-luxe. Why cashmere snobs turn their noses up at cotton has less to do with its fibers and more to do with bad PR. “Cotton has never been marketed as ‘luxurious,’” said Robin Reis, founder of State of Cotton, a line of high-end cotton sweaters. But it can be just that “if you know what you’re looking for.”
The complicated cotton-grading system isn’t exactly consumer-friendly, but, Reis said, you can generally determine quality by touch—the softer and more substantial the feel, the better the cotton. Look for “extra-long staple cotton,” she advises, which is produced from the largest, fluffiest plants. (It’s worth researching the caliber of a sweater’s cotton before you click “buy.”) Those fibers are wound up into smooth, strong yarns. Long-staple cotton is less likely to pill—and more apt to retain plushness—than short-staple options, which can droop and sag with wear.
Unless you plan to spend the snowy months hibernating in an Alaskan cave, a cotton sweater will likely keep you plenty toasty, especially chunky, tight-gauge knits. Cotton’s reputation for being light and airy (qualities that make it great for summer) is well-founded, but those characteristics make it ideal for anyone who must endure frigid commutes and overheated offices. Breathable cotton won’t send your body temperature into a spiral.
Plus, cotton’s inherent sturdiness and colorfastness make design possibilities endless, said Moorkamp—think cables, pompoms and multicolor stripes. “If I made the same sweaters in cashmere, which is a more delicate fiber, in the weight of the cottons I do, it would be five times the price. And the colors would bleed.”
Styling cotton sweaters in cold weather is not that hard. For both men and women, Los Angeles stylist Rachael Wang prefers an intentionally oversize fit—big enough to comfortably layer over a T-shirt, but not so spacious that the sleeves hang below your fingertips. For everyday, she suggests women pair that with a wide-leg pant for a weirdly appealing “I stole this from Grandpa’s closet” look.
FOR WOMEN From left: Button-back Crewneck Sweater, $150, AlexMill.com; Polo-neck Sweater, $159, PoetryFashion.com; Zip-up Sweater, $298, Kule.com
Guys, she said, should consider sporting their oversize cotton sweaters with slim (but not skinny) trousers. Wang also pleads that you embrace the chunk. “A thicker gauge will give you that fashion feeling, like you’re wearing an ‘outfit,’ and not just dressing warm because it’s cold.”
FOR MEN From left: Polo-neck Sweater, $265, us.Toa.st; Crewneck Sweater, $90, JCrew.com; Ribbed Crewneck Sweater, $148, BuckMason.com
Cotton’s ease of cleaning offers perhaps the most persuasive argument for forsaking wool. Precious cashmere and merino sweaters present a long list of laundering problems: Clueless husbands shrink their wives’ costly cashmere cardigans in the washing machine; dry-cleaning bills soar; handwashing turns out to be so tedious it inspires nudism, etc. Cotton knits, meanwhile, are generally designed to take a beating. Toss them in the washing machine, lay them flat to dry and they’re back in action. If you’re worried about fading, stick with that long-staple, high-quality cotton, which Reis says retains dye best.
Los Angeles management consultant Andy Peacock, 36, finds comfort in the knowledge that his washing machine can remove most stains. That’s why he relies on cotton sweaters for warmth in a chilly corporate office, where coffee spills aren’t as rare as one might hope. “We’ve all ruined an expensive cashmere sweater once and don’t want to do it again, so we keep the others in the closet,” he said. “But my cotton sweaters? I wear them all year.” New York consultant Emilie Hawtin, 34, agrees, and never banishes her cotton crewnecks to storage. “If you feel great in it, it’s going to transcend seasons.”