Types of Sweaters and When To Wear Them
Sweaters are a versatile and useful piece — dress them up for a night at the theatre, dress them down for a cozy movie night in, or live your autumnal dreams at the pumpkin patch by pairing your favorite sweater with an oversized scarf. It seems like there’s a sweater for every occasion, but it’s important to be strategic with this beloved layering piece.
As wonderful and versatile as sweaters can be, not every kind of sweater is a hit, and not every occasion is perfect for wearing one.
In today’s Tasc Performance guide, we’re going over the most common kinds of sweaters and when you should think about wearing them.
Let’s get started!
What Are the Different Types of Sweaters?
A sweater is a knit or crocheted garment for the upper body that can be layered as an undergarment or worn on its own.
The first thing you think of when you think of sweaters is likely a wool or cotton pullover for more formal occasions, but the style is actually quite broad, including athleisure sweatshirts and even quarter-zip jackets.
Most sweaters are long-sleeved, but short sleeves can be pulled off with the right outfit as well. Sleeveless sweaters exist too but are generally termed instead as slipovers or sweater vests.
We can break down sweaters into a few major categories.
When it comes to traditional, formal sweaters, cardigans hold the crown. Cardigans are knitted sweaters with an open front. Most cardigans have two to five buttons to close the front, forming a deep V around the chest and neck.
This classic style has been around since the 1850s, and its place in fashion since its inception has evolved and adapted many times over. Cardigans are a strong part of preppy fashion especially, and their popularity among trends has waxed and waned alongside the popularity of preppy styles as a whole.
What Materials Are Used To Make Cardigans?
Like many sweaters, wool is the most common material used to make cardigans. Wool is warm and durable but still breathable, making it an ideal fabric for cardigans since they are worn more often as outer garments.
Today cardigans often include cotton or synthetic fibers in their material makeup. Cotton helps soften the feel of harsher wool knits, while synthetic fabrics add stretch and moisture absorption but sometimes add sustainability concerns as well.
When Should You Wear a Cardigan?
Cardigans are chic yet versatile, equally as capable of thriving at a cocktail party as they are of warming your shoulders for an evening stroll around town.
Depending on the cardigan, formal events are usually their strong suit, but casual events fit the bill as well. Exercise, however, is more or less off the radar when it comes to this sweater style.
Wear your cardigans with chinos, a nice skirt, or a dress for a fashionable formal look, or throw on jeans and a t-shirt underneath to elevate your casual everyday outfit. You can even wear a drapey cardigan with our Allways Sports Bra and a matching pair of Allways Pocket Leggings for an elevated athleisure vibe.
Pullovers, sometimes called jumpers, are a diverse category of sweaters ranging from formal wool sweaters to leisurely varsity sweatshirts. A pullover is a closed-front sweater, usually with a crewneck or v-neck.
What Materials Are Used To Make Pullovers?
Just about any and every one of the major fabrics can be found in pullover sweaters. Like cardigans, wool is still the most common material. Silk, cotton, polyester, elastin, and acrylics are often used as well.
More formal pullovers tend to use wool, silk, and cotton, while active-minded pullovers such as our Varsity French Terry Sweatshirt use organic cotton blended with bamboo for a mix of ultimate comfort and high-level performance.
When Should You Wear a Pullover Sweater?
You can wear a pullover in almost any scenario, although not all pullovers are as versatile as other sweaters. Some styles are better suited for formal wear, while others are more casual.
With such versatility, the outfits you can wear with a pullover can include anything from jeans or sweatpants to a dress or dress pants. Most pullovers go best over an undershirt and under your jacket.
Turtlenecks are another chic style, like cardigans, that can elevate your wardrobe. Defined by having a tall neck that covers your skin from the shoulders to the chin, turtlenecks are a warm piece worn mostly in fall and winter.
What Materials Are Used To Make Turtlenecks?
Most turtlenecks are made of cotton. Synthetic materials are used in most clothes today as well, and are found in turtlenecks to add stretch. Wool is less common, as thin materials are preferred for turtlenecks, and it can agitate more sensitive areas of the skin, such as the neck.
When Should You Wear a Turtleneck?
Turtlenecks are almost always exclusive to cold seasons and formal occasions.
While children may be forced to wear them begrudgingly, as adults, we can enjoy any chance to dress up in our best with a turtleneck at the core of our outfit. These are another wonderful layering piece as well since thinner turtlenecks can easily hide under long-sleeved shirts, with just the neck stylishly peaking out.
Quarter-zips may not be the first style to come to mind when one thinks of sweaters, but they are one of the most commonly worn sweaters in everyday life nonetheless.
Quarter-zips are long sleeve pullovers with a zipper that comes about a quarter of the way down the chest. Most quarter zips have a collar of some sort.
What Materials Are Used To Make Quarter-Zips?
Quarter-zip sweaters are often fleece made with cotton, wool, synthetic materials, or innovative fibers like bamboo. Quarter-zips are more casual than most sweaters, and thus the material choice should focus on practical needs and solid performance qualities.
When Should You Wear a Quarter-Zip?
Quarter-zip sweaters are great for commutes, errands, casual social events, and outdoor activities. They are the favored style among sweaters for active lifestyles, especially when designed specifically for active use.
You can wear quarter zips on the golf course, at the park, or out to dinner, with jeans, sweatpants, joggers, leggings, a tennis skirt, or just about any other outfit you can think of! You can even dress up quarter-zips for semi-formal occasions with chinos or a pencil skirt.
What Sweaters Are Best for an Active Lifestyle?
While some sweaters fit seamlessly into an active lifestyle, others are more exclusive to quiet formal events. Choosing the right sweater for an active lifestyle means choosing sweaters with intentional design choices that elevate performance and versatility.
The most important area to look at is material. Traditional cotton may be common and convenient, but it falls short when it comes to top-level performance.
Cotton absorbs water but doesn’t dry quickly. It also traps odor and shrinks easily. Synthetic materials are often used to counterbalance water's poor drying capabilities but carry serious sustainability issues in most cases.
For the best materials, look for wool fleece blended with organic cotton or other natural materials, such as bamboo or beechwood. Bamboo is especially exceptional, achieving some of the best performance available in terms of moisture-wicking, breathability, thermoregulation, and odor resistance, while also providing a super soft touch and total sustainability.
Beyond material, you’ll also want to choose versatile aesthetics to go with your everyday active lifestyle looks. Quarter-zips such as our Tasc Performance Carrollton Lightweight Quarter Zip or Recess Quarter Zip are strong go-to's.
You can also try our Varsity Sweatshirt — the most versatile athleisure piece of all — perfect for just about any occasion.
More casual-minded cardigans can also act as a great layering piece for everyday activities, especially commutes or social events, while you can easily remove them before heading to your workout.
Find the Right Sweater for You With Tasc
Here at Tasc Performance, high-quality materials, intentional design, and sustainability are our core values. Find all that and more in whatever kind of sweater you may need for your active lifestyle, plus great outfits to match.
For more fashion guides and active lifestyle innovations, keep coming back to Tasc at our lifestyle blog!