Here’s one of style’s worst-kept secrets. Since shawl collar cardigans combine cozy effortlessness with structured sophistication, literally anyone can wear one.
Regardless of what you describe your personal style as, there’s a model out there for you.
Whether you’re actively looking for a shawl cardigan or just casually considering one, this buying guide has you fully covered. Let’s talk all things shawl, and get to our 12 favorite picks you can buy right now.
Our Top Shawl Collar Cardigan Choices
Here’s the TL;DR in case you don’t want to scroll and read. While we love all 12 we’re featuring here, these are our four top picks.
What is a Shawl Cardigan (And Do I Need One?)
A shawl cardigan is a sweater with a front button-up design, but with a shawl around its collar. This means the collar is turned over from the inside, forming unbroken lapels.
Again, it has a cozier, homier look to it because it’s reminiscent of a smoking jacket or house robe. However, it simultaneously also looks classier as well, because the lapels add a suit-jacket-like structure.
It’s this very balance that makes them so versatile. And yes, I do think every guy should have at least one. Here’s why:
- They’re a practical cool-weather garment.
- The versatility factor. Shawl cardigans are also easily layerable depending on how thick they are.
- They come in a wide range of styles, thicknesses, and prices (as our round-up will elucidate). Some more formal, others more academic, and some even casual enough to incorporate into a workwear style.
- My favorite reason to have a shawl cardigan? It can be worn with almost anything and can add a classiness to any combination in an easy-going way.
- If you mindlessly popped a shawl cardigan over a t-shirt and jeans, you’ll be that much more put-together—and you don’t even have to button it up.
How Do You Wear a Shawl Cardigan?
There aren’t a lot of wrong ways to wear a shawl cardigan. I’d say the only context it would look too out of place in would be with athletic clothes. In that sense, they’re like the loafers of the sweater world.
Steve McQueen wore classic ribbed versions with T-shirts and denim button-downs, combining class with workwear-esque practicality. Daniel Craig’s off-duty 007 wore one with
Unbuttoned oversized shawl cardigans can be styled into folksy (crunchy, if you will) visual leanings, and even modern street style.
And of course, you can wear them on top of a T-shirt and jeans, or a dress
12 Of the Best Shawl Collar Cardigans
We’re including a variety of styles and price points here, so you’re bound to find something that works best for you.
Tie Bar Cable Shawl Cardigan
This cable knit sweater from Tie Bar is a pretty quintessential shawl cardigan, and what I like to call a jack of all trades, style-wise.
It features a fisherman stitch which is like a chunkier, more defined, and higher-gauge pattern than you’d find on a preppier cable-knit sweater. It gives it a working man vibe without compromising the old world class.
Overall, it’s a classic heavy-weight cardigan that can be worn in almost any way possible. Chinos and jeans? Obviously. Work pants? Yup, especially if you keep it unbuttoned.
Also, there’s a touch of wool in the mostly cotton construction which ups the warmth to weight value.
J.Crew Merino Wool Blend Cardigan
The J.Crew Merino Wool cardigan succeeds on two fronts. First, the highly-variable marled construction mixes different earthy tones, making it just perfect as a fall-to-winter style.
You can wear this with burnt orange corduroys, a forest green
Second, you have to love merino wool. It’s naturally insulating, moisture-wicking, and odor resistant. Plus, it’s breathable despite how nice and heavy this sweater is.
Cleverly, there’s a touch of nylon in the formula, which also ups its fatigue-resistance, giving this sweater a pretty long life.
Kent Wang Shawl Cardigan
If you’re looking for a good indoor-outdoor sweater, this one from Kent Wang is highly effective.
The simple ribbing is more straight-forward than a fisherman knit which is great if you prefer a less ornate visual.
And with its front pockets and horn buttons (which I think add a bit of old world class), this sweater is like an elevated piece of dad fashion because of its utility-forward design. It’s definitely an adaptable and unassuming piece.
Did I mention that the 100% wool construction is composed on antique looms by true-blue artisans? That’s Kent Wang for you.
L.L.Bean Classic Ragg Wool Cardigan
The L.L.Bean Ragg Wool Cardigan is similar to the Kent Wang one in that it has a practical, straight-lined style about it.
It looks more structured though, partly because there are more buttons on it, creating a collar that comes closer to your neck. It’s also midweight and sits just slightly closer to your body.
You can style this sweater as casually as Wang’s, but it wouldn’t look out of place with a tie either.
The full lambswool construction is its other notable quality. Lambswool provides warmth without bulk, as the insulation comes more from its naturally crimped fibers which trap air, and less from extra weight.
Todd Snyder LA Fleece Cardigan
If you need proof that shawl cardigans aren’t just for trads and preps, look no further than the LA Fleece Cardigan from Todd Snyder. When I mentioned there are street style and workwear-friendly cardigans out there, I definitely had this one in mind.
It has a faded, worn-in quality about it that gives it tons of cool factor. The pleated, buttoned pockets and unnapped surface make this sweater wear almost like a utility
In fact, the black version can be styled like a harrington or even a moto jacket, while the green version is reminiscent of military-inspired looks.
Of course, this cardigan would be the softened version of either of these. It also gets extra credit for being conveniently machine washable.
Buck Mason Herdsman Shawl Cardigan
The Buck Mason Herdsman shawl cardigan is a little more ornate than the Kent Wang and the L.L.Bean Ragg wool cardigan, but less varied than the fisherman knit on the Tie Bar shawl Cardigan. It’s the moderate of the group, both in style and weight.
Even more, the wool construction is combined with some cashmere making it soft, breathable, a great insulator, and definitely luxurious. The handfeel has the weight of merino but a less aggressive, slightly silkier variation of it.
And like a good cashmere sweater, it has a relaxed, lived-in silhouette, but with clean, non-sloppy lines.
Spier & Mackay Chunky Shawl Cardigan
A pretty premium sweater with a premium price tag, I deign to say that the Spier & Mackay Chunky Shawl Cardigan punches even above that price tag.
It’s a beautifully detailed piece that comes in a wide range of colorways. Whether you go with the foresty dark green, the expressive yet neutral burgundy, or any of the neutrals (cream, brown, navy, so on), the accent buttons add a swanky pop.
Meanwhile, the double-layered collar provides an elegantly relaxed structure.
My favorite part? The four-ply merino wool is mercifully pill-resistant. This makes this sweater uniquely low-maintenance.
Bonobos Donegal Shawl Cardigan
The Bonobos Shawl Cardigan flaunts a donegal composition that gives it a fun, speckled look that’s still grown-up and refined. Part of this has to do with the tweed-esque vibe of the Donegal, and part of it has to do with the neat silhouette and high collar.
There’s a lot of architecture here to balance out the variegated surface. So, just like the L.L.Bean Ragg Wool cardigan, you can definitely wear this with a
In fact, the collar is equipped with an extra button. You can fully close up the neck to get an almost crewneck neckline.
J. Press Camel Cardigan
If you’re looking for a true investment piece, the J. Press Camel Cardigan is an instant heirloom with every single aspect of it boasting a luxury factor.
It looks like it’s made from something in between cashmere and wool, which it sort of is. Camel hair features extra fine, extra soft fibers. It gives this sweater a silky soft yet durable construction.
It’s actually resistant to pilling, which is more than I can say about cashmere—including the really high-end kind.
And here’s a fun fact. Unlike cashmere which needs to be sheared, camel hair is taken after it’s been naturally shed in the warm seasons, making it more sustainable.
All these great practical qualities aside, the resulting garment is a luxe, light but insulating, and truly dapper cardigan, the overall look of which is cinched by exquisite leather buttons.
Huckberry Schott Motif Blend Cardigan
What I love about the Schott Motif Blend Cardigan at Huckberry is how you can style it in so many unexpected ways. The design is fun, has tons of character, and is Western and Americana, with a hint of Scandinavian.
A unique component of its construction is its use of yak wool. This makes it warmer, more breathable, and faster at moisture wicking than pure merino.
L.L.Bean Fisherman Sweater in Mahogany
The L.L.Bean Fisherman Sweater is bright, lively, and boasts a truly creative and varied version of the traditional fisherman knit. Even more, the warm colors lean hard into an autumnal aesthetic, but aren’t at all inappropriate for winter if styled correctly.
I also love how the vivid upper patterns complement and highlight the chunky shawl, giving it a sort of “lit up” background to sit on top of.
This 100% cotton cardigan flaunts a slim, handsome fit. So despite it being a potentially loud sweater, it’s sophisticated, clean-looking, and contained.
Amazon Essentials Cardigan
This entry from Amazon Essentials is what I like to call a starter cardigan. First off, the price can’t be beat. It fits well (you might have to size it down for a tidier, less relaxed fit), and it’s definitely soft to the touch.
Plus, it’s standard in the best way possible. You can wear it with most outfits and the vertical lines from the ribbing are flattering.
Of course, as a budget option, it’s not the bounciest of fabrics. This means that there’s going to be some creasing in places that experience the most bend, like the elbow area.
It’ll also pill after a few wears, but that’s something that happens with sweaters at much higher price points too.
Still, it’s an affordable, attractive model. And since this is Amazon, you can get it delivered at lightspeed, making it a quick, easy, and no-stress option.
The Right Shawl Cardigan for You
Truly, there’s a shawl collar cardigan out there for everyone.
Want a quintessential fisherman knit? Can’t go wrong with the Tie Bar option.
The best part is that there’s literally an option at every price point!
Which one’s your fave? DM B on Instagram and let us know if you have any questions.