Even if it’s not, strictly speaking, a sweater.
If you asked me to name the greatest menswear item ever made, I’d point you to the hoodie. It’s a question of style, but also fit: I like my clothes big and roomy. But, I thought, there wasn’t a way to feel comfortable and office-appropriate. I don’t want to wear a graphic hoodie to work. And I’ve never gotten a compliment on a cardigan. (Has anyone?) And then I learned about the cozy, chunky sweater: a high-design take on a cold-weather special—the bigger, strangely, the more stylish.
I set out for Dover Street Market, Manhattan’s palace of expensive yarn. (Seriously: A large column in the store wears what appears to be a multicolored wool sweater.) I started with a forest green sweater from Rick Owens, he of the billowy wardrobe: weirdly, too snug. I moved on quickly to Calvin Klein (a designer I’d actually worn before), specifically a baby blue knit that swallowed me whole, making me look—and feel—like Sully from Monsters, Inc. That didn’t bother me, oddly enough—but the not-quite-finished stitching across the chest did. The idea of walking into Thanksgiving in a fashion-big cozy sweater was daunting enough. I didn’t need the added whimsy.
So I went basic. Sort of, at least: I was taken by a $1,340 Jil Sander joint. It was majestic. A thinner knit than the Calvin Klein, it fit more tightly, feeling more like part of an outfit than part of a costume. Also, its drop-shoulder style—the seam hits on the upper arm, rather than at the shoulder—made it just slouchy enough to give it that safe, cocoon-y feel that’s a hallmark of all truly great winter wear. The only downside? I’d hoped my cozy sweater might act as something of a lighthouse in the bleak, snowy months ahead—offering a splash of hue to my life even on days when I never made it off the couch. This one was white. (Maybe that wasn’t the only downside. It also cost more than any suit I own.) I left sweaterless.
I found my answer where I often do: back in my 101-level wheelhouse. The winner came from the long-beloved sweat-makers at Champion. Okay, fine, maybe their crewneck pullover is technically a sweatshirt. But semantics aside, all of the sweater’s signature cuddly chunkiness was still there, especially once I realized I could wear it a size too large without it being deemed sloppy. (The bigger, the more stylish, remember?) Mine’s bright gold, a hue that’ll make me smile even on the sun-starved, extremely pale days ahead. It’s versatile, pairing well with my new chinos and boots. And it’s more breathable than the Dover Street stuff, too, should a game of interoffice frisbee break out. Best of all: It’s not precious. So I’m free to keep it where it’ll be most useful: at my desk, where I wear it all the time.