There’s something about a man wearing a tuxedo. No matter the style—shawl or notch collar, vest or cummerbund—a guy in a tuxedo is the ultimate example of dressing to impress. Alas, tuxedos are only worn for black tie events and are not meant for everyday wear. When it comes to making an impression on less formal occasions, other styles of dressing will have to do. One way to take your style up a notch is to swap out your usual everyday top for a sweater. Sweaters come in a variety of styles; the trick is knowing which one to use for what occasion. Read on to learn more about how a man can dress to impress with sweaters.
If you’re meeting someone casually for the first time—say, a coffee date—try a men’s cotton sweater. Even more than choosing a polo shirt over a T-shirt, picking a sweater over a polo shirt says you’ve made an effort. A cotton sweater is an especially great look in spring, summer, and early fall. Depending on the climate, you can stick with jeans or up your game a step by opting for khaki shorts or pants. Finish with a pair of boat shoes but skip the socks. This look also works when you’re getting together with friends for Sunday brunch. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your friends on their toes, and you never know when someone new might be joining your group. This style also translates well when the weather gets cooler; simply swap out the cotton for a heavier-weight fiber.
If you want to impress someone with your outdoor prowess, you’ll want to set the stage—that is, dress the part. Jeans are a given, of course, as are men’s flannel shirts, especially in cooler weather. But when you need to add that extra outer layer, skip the fleece and opt for a thick fisherman’s sweater. Often referred to as Aran sweaters from the islands off the coast of Ireland where they originated, these sweaters are known for their variety of stitches—cables, diamonds, zigzags, and honeycombs, just to name a few. These richly textured sweaters are universally flattering, whether you’re sporting hiking boots and romping outdoors or wearing après-ski boots and lazing before the fire, hot beverage in hand.
Of course, you’ll make even more of an impression if you’re also prepared for the outdoors. So, have some sunscreen, insect repellent, a mini first aid kit, a water bottle, a couple of protein bars, and a packable jacket handy. Throw them all in a backpack, along with a portable phone charger and cord. Besides demonstrating that you’re ready for most contingencies, remember one of life’s quirky rules: Curve balls come at you when you’re least expecting them, not when you’ve anticipated them.
If you have a study date and want to show your partner you’re serious about academics, go for the classic nerdy professor look. There’s no need to run out and purchase a pair of horn-rimmed glasses, nor do you need to take it to the extreme with an elbow-patch blazer. Instead, pair a turtleneck sweater with men’s corduroy pants. If you’re not a fan of having snug items around your neck (in which case, you probably don’t like wearing ties, either), opt for a shawl-collar sweater instead with a crewneck T-shirt underneath that picks up the color of the sweater. Finish with a pair of Chelsea boots, which are easily adaptable to many looks.
There’s no denying that at one point, the standard work uniform for men in most industries was a business suit, or possibly nice pants and a blazer, along with a button-down shirt and tie. While dress rules have relaxed someone in recent years—even the more sedate companies generally don’t require their employees to dress in business formal wear all the time—it’s always a good idea to dress to impress. You never know when you’re going to need to meet with a client or someone in upper management.
If your office dress code leans toward business casual, you can’t go wrong with chinos and a pullover sweater. You can wear the sweater either on its own or, if you want to be slightly more formal, over the button-down shirt. Choose a V-neck sweater if you’re going to add a tie to the mix—the collar of a crewneck sweater will hide it. However, for the ultimate in business professional wear with a suit, your best bet is a pair of dress slacks with a men’s cashmere sweater. Cashmere is not only super comfortable but given its association with luxury, wearing it says to others that you are successful. And if you need to up your game a tad, simply layer a blazer over the sweater.
Dressing to impress with a sweater can be as challenging or as effortless as you make it. However, if you let the occasion be your guide, you’ll rarely go wrong when it comes to making the impression you want.