In the hierarchy of sartorial needs, men’s sweatshirts rank just behind T-shirts, underwear, and jeans. Over the decades, they’ve evolved from sportswear staple to genuine fashion icon, with enough style juice to help you get some serious fits off: Think Steve McQueen on his motorcycle in a greasy crewneck, or Demna-era Balenciaga with a baggy-as -hell hoodie under a trench coat. In 2022, there are sweatshirts for literally every occasion. There are the sweatshirts you throw on to keep warm when walking the dog, the sweatshirts you actually sweat in, even the sweatshirts you keep aside to wear out with a suit and dress shoes. Today, we’re going to run through all of those versions and more.
From basic zip-up hoodies to lush designer interpretations, from heavyweight pullovers to featherlight sleeveless joints, these are the 12 absolute essential styles of men’s sweatshirts. No matter your budget, your tastes, or your needs, there’s a sweatshirt—or seven!—in here that’s right for you. Fleece yourself up and get your cozy on, folks.
The crewneck sweatshirt was invented in the 1930s by Benjamin Russell, Jr., a professional football player who wanted a comfortable alternative to his sport’s scratchy wool uniforms. His solution, a soft cotton fleece pullover with a crewneck collar, wound up changing the world of fashion forever.
Another legendary silhouette that needs no real introduction. Hoodies are an off-duty staple, of course, perfect for bundling up on the couch for a long day of hardcore lounging. But they also bring a relaxed ease to just about any fit, looking right at home under a tailored topcoat or a puffy bomber alike.
Like a loungewear cardigan, zip-up hoodies give you the flexibility to show off whatever you’re wearing underneath—be it a killer graphic tee or a hardy flannel button-up—and don’t require low-level gymnastics to pull on.
Fractional Zip Sweatshirts
Those half-zips and quarter-zips your pops used to wear when coaching your childhood soccer team? They’re cool as all hell right now. Leave ’em unzipped to show off that wild new necklace you just copped, or fasten up straight to the top when a cold wind blows in from nowhere.
When you want your sweatshirt to say more than just “I’m warm and stylish,” these streetwear staples have got your back.
We know what you’re thinking: Kind of redundant, GQ! Aren’t all these sweatshirts basic? We hear you. But this category is our little love letter to the everyday sweatshirts you can stroll into any mall in America and stock up on for less than $50 a pop. The kind you have seven of in your drawer as we speak, that you can pull on anytime for any purpose, that you can always rely on. We salute you, basic sweats.
From upgraded materials to thoughtful design details, these not-so-basic basics are well worth the price of admission.
It can sometimes take years before a sweatshirt looks and feels just right. Buying vintage helps you sidestep that process completely, with hoodies and crewnecks that have gone through the ringer and come out looking incredible on the other side. It can sometimes be a bit of a crapshoot finding the perfect vintage model, but it’s well worth the hunt.
When it’s truly frigid outside, you’ll want to protect your neck. These mock- and turtleneck sweatshirts let you do just that in as cozy a form as possible.
You don’t have to give up on your go-to sweatshirts when spring rolls around. Made from lightweight cottons and linen blends, these are the ideal in-between layers for sunny-but-cool days.
Whether you’re training in inclement weather or simply doing battle with an overzealous air conditioner at the gym, these performance-minded sweatshirts will keep you in tip-top shape.
Because sometimes, you just gotta go full meathead.