10 Essential Sweaters Every Wardrobe Should Contain

·6 min read

It’s officially that time of year when we revisit the fall staples that have been tucked away in our wardrobes—namely, boots, coats, and essential sweaters. At the dawn of the season, without fail, excitement rushes through us to curate new ensembles surrounding these items. It’s also the time for us to engage in a reset of sorts to evaluate the treasures we own, the pieces we might want to donate, and what few new additions we’d like to procure.

One unanimous fall cue across designer collections? Go heavy on the knitwear, from classic Breton stripes and cardigans to versatile basics like black turtlenecks and crewnecks in every color. There are also, of course, a few new knitted heroes fresh onto the scene. In 2021’s case, that unequivocally points to polo sweaters and half-zips with a nostalgic, preppy feel. Similarly, Fair Isle makes a strong return and with an ’80s and early ’90s bent. Look to these for your après ski outings or moments in the city when you’re channeling the vibe.

Another modern must? The knitted hoodie—a more elevated take on the loungewear staple for moments of relaxation at home or travel. For capitalizing on the oversized aesthetic, ultra-roomy turtlenecks and fisherman sweaters abound this season—Khaite’s plush and enveloping take on the seafaring favorite is a total showstopper. And what would a proper knitwear collection be without a bit of cashmere? Whether you prefer a crew, V-shaped, or rounded neckline, a solid pullover style in any hue of your choosing will go the farthest in your rotation of outfits, with a signature touch of luxury, to boot. Ready to stock up on essential knitwear for fall? Scroll on to discover 44 designs to look your absolute best in for sweater weather.

Striped Breton

Originally designed as part of seamen’s uniforms in Northern France’s Brittany, the Breton stripe is a classic knit, most commonly in a thick weave in timeless navy and white. Now, modern iterations come in all versions, from thin and layerable to nubby and oversize.

La Ligne Marin cotton sweater

$175.00, NORDSTROM

Kule the Sophie sweater

$298.00, KULE

Alex Mill button-back crewneck sweater in stripe

$120.00, ALEX MILL

Tory Burch Breton-stripe cotton sweater

$258.00, TORY BURCH

Fisherman’s Sweater

A fisherman sweater, also known as an Aran jumper, is that ultra-thick cable knit you reach for to curl up in on the coldest days. Traditionally, they feature an array of patterns, like Khaite’s oversized and incredibly eye-catching Monet knit. Still, some are designed more simply in a range of colors, from jewel-toned to neutral.

Khaite the Monet sweater

$5800.00, KHAITE

Tricot organic wool cable knit sweater

$175.00, TRICOT

Jenni Kayne fisherman sweater

$295.00, NORDSTROM

Jonathan Simkhai Brynlee wool and cotton-blend sweater

$435.00, MYTHERESA

Black Turtleneck

No knitwear collection is complete without a black turtleneck, and ideally, more than one. Thin and fitted ribbed styles are best for layering and tucking, while oversized cuts are deliciously cozy when topping leggings, slim pants, or slip skirts.

Another Tomorrow roll-neck wool-blend sweater

$490.00, MATCHESFASHION.COM

Lemaire second-skin rib turtleneck stretch cotton sweater

$175.00, NORDSTROM

The Row Stepny wool and cashmere turtleneck top

$950.00, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

Aritzia Wilfred Free Hush knit cropped turtleneck

$110.00, ARITZIA

Cardigan

Whether styled as a top or draped over a fitted top or dress, there’s no denying the versatility of a cardigan, particularly one in a heavyweight knit for fall. Neutral tones are perennial staples, however delectable hues like hunter green or pink jacquard will instantly liven up your assortment.

Favorite Daughter Eleanor cardigan

$328.00, FAVORITE DAUGHTER

Khaite the Teagan cardigan

$1120.00, KHAITE

Ganni alpaca-blend cardigan

$325.00, MYTHERESA

LoveShackFancy Wilford boyfriend striped-jacquard cardigan

$450.00, MATCHESFASHION.COM

Cashmere Pull

Cashmere is the ultimate luxury when it comes to essential sweaters, not to mention a great gift. A simple pullover is by far the most versatile in any style of neckline. We highly recommend stockpiling a few, be it various neutrals or a mix of jewel tones and brights.

Gap recycled cashmere sweater

$98.00, GAP

Joseph Cashair cashmere sweater

$375.00, NET-A-PORTER

Cuyana single-origin cashmere sccop-neck sweater

$195.00, CUYANA

Proenza Schouler eco cashmere sweater

$1090.00, NORDSTROM

Crewneck

The crewneck is yet another hard-working sweater that often anchors most knitwear collections. Freshen up your assortment with a slightly cropped boxy fit, cozy oversize style, or pretty shade like lilac

Leset Zoe cropped wool-blend sweater

$285.00, MODA OPERANDI

J.Crew Margot crewneck sweater

$80.00, J.CREW

Everlane the oversized alpaca crew sweater

$100.00, EVERLANE

Live the Process Nova cropped crewneck sweater

$254.00, MYTHERESA

Half-Zip

The half-zip packs a one-two punch while at the same time boasting a bit of nostalgia circa the early ’90s. Style yours fully zipped as a turtleneck for more coverage, open for a reveal of decolletage, or layered over thin layers in cooler weather.

Sezane Nico sweater

$145.00, SEZANE

Staud Kirby half-zip sweater

$275.00, NORDSTROM

Paradis Perdus Homer mélange-knit half-zip sweater

$425.00, MODA OPERANDI

Alejandra Alonso Rojas hand knit cashmere and wool sweater

$995.00, SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

Hoodie

The knit hoodie is a modern leisure essential offering a more polished look than cotton or fleece iterations. Team yours with matching bottoms for a cozy-chic look head to toe or style one with jeans and sneakers for casual outings.

Aether Lawrence cashmere hooded sweater

$595.00, AETHER APPAREL

Raey oversized knitted cashmere hooded sweatshirt

$674.00, MATCHESFASHION.COM

Lisa Yang Luella oversized cashmere hoodie

$420.00, MODA OPERANDI

Nili Lotan Albany cashmere hoodie

$550.00, NET-A-PORTER

Oversize Turtleneck

For a bit of drama and tons of coziness, the oversized turtleneck is a cold-weather staple whether you prefer a swingy, hip-grazing fit or an ultra-roomy design nearly hitting mid-thigh. Opt for solid neutrals or classic stripes when the mood is timeless and gorgeous colors when you’re feeling a bigger statement.

Nanushka raw turtleneck cable-knit sweater

$775.00, MYTHERESA

Ayr Le Square sweater

$345.00, AYR

Peter Do Debra ribbed wool turtleneck sweater

$1845.00, NET-A-PORTER

Totême signature striped wool-blend turtleneck sweater

$570.00, MODA OPERANDI

Polo Sweater

Like the half-zip, the polo sweater is a throwback design à la the aughts, reinterpreted with modern appeal. New-season versions feature a slightly slouchy fit with a collar for easygoing polish. They come in shades of kinds, making a few great in rotation with everything from printed apparel to your favorite jeans.

Madewell Davie polo sweater

$90.00, MADEWELL

Almina Concept polo wool sweater

$138.00, ALMINA CONCEPT

Arch4 oxford organic cashmere sweater

$665.00, NET-A-PORTER

Isabel Marant Étoile Lark polo-neck sweater

$670.00, FARFETCH

Fair Isle

No sweater says “après ski-chic” quite like a Fair Isle design. Hallmarked by a mix of colorful geometric patterns, the traditional knitting technique is timeless as ever but continues to evolve through the seasons. This year, look to puffed shoulders and bright colors for optimal freshness. Though, there’s no denying the allure of classic ivory or beige designs.

Frame Fair Isle crew sweater

$428.00, FRAME

Paco Rabanne puff-sleeve Fair Isle wool-blend sweater

$790.00, MODA OPERANDI

Moncler Fair Isle sweater

$1190.00, MATCHESFASHION.COM

Max Mara Tay Fair Isle cable-knit sweater

$795.00, NET-A-PORTER

Originally Appeared on Vogue