Why the Half-zip Sweater Should be Your Quotidian Sartorial Staple

Oft associated with middle-aged dads or utilitarian golfers, the humble half-zip sweater is one of the most underrated menswear pieces. While we can understand the aversion to dowdy fleece and viscose iterations, some variations in fabric and new styling ideas make a case for the half-zip sweater as a transitional dressing staple. 

How to wear a half-zip sweater

The appeal of the half-zip sweater can be attributed to its seasonal and sartorial versatility. While other wardrobe staples may only lend themselves to a single season, the half-zip can be styled for a multitude of occasions and weather conditions. Perfect as a solo piece in spring, throw it over a t-shirt for a casual autumn look, or layer it under a heavy coat for winter. 

Here’s how to style a half-zip sweater for any occasion.

Casual

Half-zip sweaters pair well with laid-back trousers like denim and chinos, allowing them to seamlessly work their way into casual getups. Ditch your jacket in favour of a dark (charcoal or navy work well) cashmere half-zip sweater. Team it with camel, mustard or khaki chinos, a crisp white t-shirt, and a pair of chukka boots for an elevated street style look. Alternatively, try a patterned or bold coloured half-zip with selvedge denim jeans for a statement-making look.

When the weather starts to cool down, throw a chore coat or shirt-jacket over your half-zip sweater, or opt for a gilet for a preppier vibe. For an athleisure look perfect for travelling or simply commuting to and from the gym in style, team a half-zip jumper with a t-shirt, drawstring jogging bottoms, and a pair of sneakers. 

Smart casual

Zalf-zip sweaters can easily be taken to smart casual territory through the addition of structured outerwear. Opt for a woollen half-zip in a neutral colour (cream, beige, charcoal, navy, grey, camel) and pair it with slim-cut trousers, a tailored overcoat, and Chelsea boots or penny loafers.

Alternatively, style structured slim-cut dress pants with a half-zip jumper layered under a bulkier jacket and teamed with leather Chelsea boots for an elevated take on streetwear. 

Semi-formal

Half-zip sweaters in fine materials like cashmere or merino wool make for ideal layering pieces; when worn under a jacket they’re perfect for semi-formal attire. For a semi-formal office look, try wearing a neutral coloured half-zip sweater over a dress shirt, layered under a slim-cut suit and teamed with horsebit loafers or derby shoes. Note: when wearing a half-zip over a dress shirt, never let the collar sit over the neckline opening. 

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The 6 best men’s half-zip sweaters

1. Peter Millar Suede-Trimmed Merino Wool-Blend Sweater

Channel Richard Gere in American Gigolo with this pink-hued merino wool half-zip jumper from Peter Millar. Team with slim-cut linen trousers in a light shade and tan penny loafers.

2. Oliver Spencer Ribbed Wool Half-Zip Sweater

Crafted from extrafine lambswool, Oliver Spencer’s half-zip offering puts a twist on the original silhouette through the addition of ribbing on the shoulders and sleeves. Designed to be worn slightly loose-fitting, it works well over chinos or jeans for a laidback look, or tailored pants and a structured coat for smart casual wear.

3. Canada Goose Clarke Merino Wool-Blend Half-Zip Sweater

For the adventurers out there, Canada Goose’s Clarke half-zip is the way to go. Knitted in Italy from merino wool blend, it’s insulated with patented Thermolite panels that trap heart, keeping you toasty. Pair with denim jeans or chinos, a gilet or bomber jacket, and hiking boots.

4. Loro Piana Cable-Knit Baby Cashmere Zip-Up Sweater 

Italian made from baby cashmere, Loro Piana’s cable-knit iteration of the half-zip sweatshirt is a definitively luxurious one. Pair with charcoal chinos, a white t-shirt, and chestnut brown wingtip boots.

5. Canali Merino Wool Half-Zip Sweater 

Handmade in Italy, Canali’s merino wool half-zip jumper is warm yet lightweight enough to layer. Team it with selvedge denim jeans, a tan shearling coat, and hiking boots for a ruggedly casual look, or pair with suiting separates and loafers for an elevated take on smart casual style, perfect for afternoon drinks.

6. NN07 Holger Ribbed Mélange Wool Half-zip Sweater

NN07 creates essential wardrobe staples you’ll wear for years to come, and their Holger half-zip is no exception. Crafted from anthracite mélange wool in a classic ribbed construction, it keeps you warm and is easy to style. Wear over chinos or jeans with the zip undone for a casual look, or team with a charcoal suit and black leather derby shoes for a contemporary take on office style. 


Words by Theo Rosen
Feature image courtesy of Mr Porter