There’s no better time to start thinking about your fall wardrobe and the perfect cotton sweaters than the last few months of summer. Yes, in many parts of the country temperatures are still in the triple digits or close to it, but getting your proverbial ducks in a row now makes your transition from summer to fall all the more seamless.
You don’t have to do a full closet reset, of course. Fall is still the time for comfortable shorts and easy slip-ons. But it’s also when you may need to grab a light fall bomber jacket or sweater before you head out in the morning. Autumn style is a bit casual, a bit New England, and the right cotton sweater can tie it all together.
What Makes a Good Cotton Sweater?
The most important thing to look for in a cotton sweater is the weight, especially for sweaters you plan to use as summer transitions to fall. You want to be able to stay cozy on frostier mornings while not boiling in the afternoon heat.
I also like a bit of tailoring on the sleeves or hemlines so that, if I do wear a t-shirt underneath, I can keep a defined silhouette to the shape rather than have the sweater lay frumpily overtop my undershirt. Lastly, from a style perspective, it’s all a balancing act: You’re going to want to go more formal with your sweater choices to contrast with any summer jeans or shorts you wear with it.
Cotton Versus Wool
Most sweaters you find in the marketplace are going to be, as a general rule, either wool, cotton, or a cotton blend. Wool sweaters are hardy and retain heat phenomenally well. Which, of course, isn’t what you want right now. Between the weight of wool and the scratchiness of the fabric (which isn’t comfortable if you’re even the slightest bit sweaty), all-cotton options are the way to go. Cotton is soft but also incredibly breathable, allowing for less heat retention while giving a bit more coverage than, say, a standard long-sleeve shirt. And, as a bonus, it’s more forgiving in washing machines, making it a great choice for everyday wear.
The 8 Best Cotton Sweaters For Fall
Amazon Essentials Men’s Crewneck Sweater
Amazon probably isn’t at the top of your list of go-to clothing brands, but it’s hard to deny more than 15,000 reviews and four-and-a-half stars. The Essentials Crewneck Sweater comes in nearly 40 colors, offering a variety of choices for any occasion over the next few months. It comes in a slightly sloped shoulder that’s flattering on most frames and has a nice in-laid collar, giving it an elevated appearance way beyond its price point.
L.L.Bean Organic Cotton Rollneck Crew Sweater
While this cotton sweater is definitely a bit heavier than some others on the list, one can’t ignore L.L. Bean when it comes to everyday pieces. The organic cotton rollneck sweater has a weightier feel to it and a waffle knit texture that adds to the silhouette. It looks just as great with a white chino short and some boat shoes as it does when thrown on before you gather around a campfire.
Banana Republic Factory Organic Cotton Sweater
What’s really great about this sweater are the color options featuring muted tones that are earthy and a bit modern, elevating your basics a bit. With what’s called a slub texture, you’re looking at a sweater that’s meant to be worn and one you don’t have to be too precious in.
Brooks Brothers Supima Cotton Crewneck Sweater
Brooks Brothers knows its classics, and you really can’t go wrong with this cotton crewneck sweater. Made from a finer yarn count and gauge than you might find from more generic brands, it has approximately the same weight as a heavy t-shirt, giving you a bit of coverup without any of the heat. Pair it with navy chinos and a white Oxford, and you’re ready for your next meeting and happy hour on a Tuesday night after work.
WoolOvers Organic Cotton Half Zip Sweater
While I’m prone to a crewneck, I can’t deny the preppy nonchalance of a good half-zip with and interior striped color that’s reminiscent of rowing clubs and cocktail receptions. So if you want to look the part of an Ivy Leaguer, grab one of these sweaters and you’ll fit right in with the Connecticut crowd.
J. Crew Cotton Crewneck Sweater in Garter Stitch
Call this one a cousin to the Amazon Essentials sweater. With a similar construction, it’s a great option for those who are J. Crew loyalists. This crewneck sweater comes in some great jewel tones like yellow and ruby, or more traditional neutrals for those who want to keep it more low key. As mentioned in the name, this sweater is knit with a garter stitch, giving it a bit of stretch that makes it more comfortable the longer you have it on.
Madewell Garment-Dyed Crewneck Sweatshirt
Sure, this isn’t technically a straight up sweater, but everyone needs a good sweatshirt for fall. The Madewell crewneck is a favorite of mine and not least because of the detailing that went into the product. First, the triangle on the neckline makes this a classic piece and adds a little bit of athleticism to the outfit. But the real champion of this garment are the color options. Tonally rich and complementary of almost all skin tones, you can select any of the six colorways and look (and hopefully feel) your best in any of them.
Gyles & George Zodiac Sweaters from Rowing Blazers
Gyles & George has been an iconic British brand since the 1980s, and its reemergence in the market is thanks to Rowing Blazers. The Zodiac Sweaters depict larger-than-life motifs of the classic astrological signs in a variety of stylish (and a bit garish) color options. Made from cotton, the weight of the sweater remains fairly light, even with the wider, more relaxed silhouette. It’s definitely a statement sweater, but every wardrobe should include one of those.