As a blanket, sweaters can be thick and warm or light and cool as a breeze. Sweaters can be worn year-round depending on their knit and the weight of the yarn, calling the very concept of sweater season into question. If sweaters 365 days a year build fashionable and smart layers, is there sweater weather? Surely it does!
What Is Sweater Weather?
While in the summer you can wear lightweight sweaters, no one says “sweater weather” to characterize the summer dog days. When temperatures drop and you take out your favorite cashmere sweaters and warm cardigans, the true sweater weather is fall through winter and into spring. But depending on where you live, exactly when the sweater season starts for you. For residents of Belize or Hawaii, sweater weather isn’t much of a thing.
Individually and geographically, the frosty temps that cause the happy impulse to put on a sweater differ. This personal cold threshold varied regionally in the United States, a 2016 survey by The Weather Channel showed. People broke their sweaters when it was 65 degrees in Arizona and Nevada, while people in Vermont found the sweater season to be 55 degrees, and South Dakotans waited for temps to drop to 51 degrees before pulling on their cable knits.
No matter when the ‘sweater season’ is coming for you, the thing is warmth.
What Are the Warmest Sweaters Made Of?
Sweaters are knitted from a variety of yarns and blends created by nature and man, all of them offering their own distinct, attractive qualities. Others are colder than others, though. Here’s a summary of sweater styles that keep you warm from ‘nip in the cold’ to ‘polar vortex.’
Is Wool Warm?
One of the warmest ones is this quintessential sweater stuff. Wool is a spun fiber developed from a variety of mammals’ fur. The most common wool is wool derived from sheep, but it can also come from alpacas, goats, and llamas. Angora wool is derived from rabbits. Whatever its source, wool is one of the natural fabrics with the most insulation. And when it gets warm, it keeps the heat in the body and the cold out, and it wicks moisture away from the body. A true Irish fisherman’s sweater is often knit in wool because during long days battling gale-force winds and sea spray, it keeps these hard-working anglers wet, dry, and comfortable.
When to Wear Wool Sweaters? To be safe while fishing off the coast of Ireland. But during most of your outdoor adventures in the cold, from wingshooting to walking in the park to treks in Patagonia, wool sweaters will keep you reliably warm.
Is Merino Wool Warm?
The superior warmth of any wool is provided by merino wool, but it is a finer fiber that is valued for its softness and drape. Merino wool is knitted from the fur of Merino sheep, a variety of sheep that originated in North Africa via Spain and is one of the world’s oldest types of sheep. Since it does not itch and can be knitted into a very thin material, Merino wool is also used for warmth on very cold days and for winter sports in performance base layers.
When to Wear Merino Wool Sweaters? You want to remain warm at any moment, but not necessarily want to cover up. For winter days at the workplace, or for an evening out when you do not want to wear a bulky sweater under your cold-weather jacket, a Merino wool sweater is an elegant option.
Is Cashmere Warm?
Cashmere sweaters offer plenty of winter comfort and sleek silhouettes that are never voluminous. Cashmere wool comes from the soft hair under the goat’s chin. In the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, where wool was originally used in textiles, the term ‘cashmere’ originated from the Kashmir region. The most luxurious wool, beloved for the unparalleled softness of its fabrics, is cashmere; it is also woven into sumptuous scarves and sophisticated sweaters.
When to Wear Cashmere Sweaters? There are dressier cashmere sweaters than the rest. You can wear them at job conferences, out for dinner, and you can wear your Merino sweaters everywhere. But in a dressy restaurant, cashmere sweaters will also be fashionable choices for more casual winter weddings or dinner.
Is Cotton Warm?
Especially when layered, or in thick, dense knits that do not let the cool air through, cotton sweaters can be quite warm. You’ll enjoy even more protection from cold temperatures if your sweater is a cotton/wool blend. A cooling layer is a sweater in a combination of cotton and linen that’s just perfect for warm summer evenings.
When to Wear Cotton Sweaters? If your daily rounds don’t have you outside in the elements for long periods of time, cotton is a comfortable choice. In such circumstances, it is easier to opt for wool. For the front- and tail-ends of the sweater season when it’s nippy but not too frigid, cotton sweaters are great choices. And in the heat of summer, cotton sweaters in an open-knit are chic options over a tank top because they will let welcome breezes hit you.
How to Style a Sweater
- Choose a long sweater to wear and finish with boots over your favorite skinny jeans or leggings.
- For a classical look, add a plaid scarf to a chunky cable knit sweater.
- Dress for warmth in layers: do not be afraid to wear a long, open cardigan over another sweater, even if the two haven’t arrived as a pair. On frigid days, more indulgent layers equate to more water, and the comparison adds appeal.
- Start with a refined knit sweater for a dressier look, pair it with a skirt, and belt it at the waist.
And an untucked button-down shirt with a bit of shirttail showing under a V-neck sweater is a favorite look that works for women and men on casual, cool-weather days.
So, the time to wear sweaters is not incorrect, and there are countless ways to wear them. You just have to pick the sweater and knit material that is right for the season and right for you.