With winter setting in, it’s all too easy to let style fall by the wayside in favour of comfort.
Days draw shorter, nights grow longer and with every passing hour, the temptation to live in a 24-hour-a-day dressing-gown cocoon intensifies.
But style and cosiness don’t have to be mutually exclusive – that’s where knitwear comes in.
A good selection of knitwear is one of the cornerstones of a well-curated cold-weather wardrobe.
From chunky crewnecks for conquering the coldest days to fine-gauge cardigans and zip-throughs to bolster your layering game – knitted mid-layers are your greatest allies as we battle through the season.
To help you get the most for your money, we tried out knitwear from a range of trusted labels and in a wide variety of styles.
Each garment was assessed in terms of warmth, quality and looks and we even layered up for a few blustery coastal walks to see how they fared under heavier outerwear.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Inverallan 1a crewneck sweater
There’s knitwear and then there’s whatever this is. Of all the jumpers and cardigans we tested, this tank of a fisherman sweater from Scottish brand Inverallan was the warmest, weightiest and most rugged. So rugged, in fact, that we’re pretty confident the one we tested will still be around long after we’ve departed. Why? Probably a combination of the high-quality yarn, traditional craftsmanship and overall robustness of the knit. Be warned though, this thing is seriously thick, which can make layering with certain coats and jackets tricky. Still, given how warm it is, you might not even need to.
Buy now £170.83, Inverallan
M&S fair isle crewneck jumper
Christmas jumpers might be a laugh, but they’re terrible for the environment. They’re cheaply produced and usually destined for landfill once the Christmas tree’s down and everyone has forgotten about Slade again. The solution? Invest in some stylish festive knitwear that you can keep using throughout the season, like this Fair Isle jumper from British high street mainstay M&S, which is both cosy and warm.
Buy now £35.00, M&S
Stone Island V-neck cardigan
Best known for its use of unusual and often technically innovative fabrics, at the same time, Stone Island makes some top-notch, good old-fashioned knitwear. This heavy V-neck cardigan is made in Italy and features four large buttons on the front, two hand pockets and the signature compass badge branding to the left arm. Unlike most of the brand’s garments, we’d say this runs true to size, so only size up if you want a slightly larger fit. Overall, it’s classic Stoney with a softer edge.
Buy now £436.00, Farfetch
John Smedley bobby V-neck
A John Smedley jumper is the holy grail of men’s knitwear. Don’t believe us? Just ask James Bond. Which one? All of them. That’s right, every single 007 has worn a knit from this brand. If it’s good enough for the likes of Roger Moore and Sean Connery then it’s good enough for us. This particular jumper was sported by incumbent Bond Daniel Craig in Skyfall and if you act fast it can be yours for half price. If you’re looking for a high-end, fine-gauge knit at a bargain price, look no further.
Buy now £85.00, John Smedley
Uniqlo lambswool crew jumper
Uniqlo’s knitwear has a cult following of thrifty sartorialists who praise it for its quality and value for money. This lambswool crewneck is a core style for the Japanese retailer and comes in a varied palette, perfect for adding a bit of colour or contrast to your winter looks. Fit-wise, it’s pretty standard – true to size, not too loose, not too tight – which makes it perfectly suited to layering. Plus, with change from £30, it’s the sort of thing you can stock up on in a few different shades.
Buy now £24.90, Uniqlo
Pringle of Scotland reissued argyle cardigan
Scottish brand, Pringle of Scotland, coined the term knitwear and has been crafting some of the best in the business since 1815. This particular cardigan is rendered in textured mohair and features an eye-catching argyle pattern in versatile monochrome. Hairy statement knitwear is trending hard right now and this one is a great way to get on board via one of the most respected and historic names in the industry.
Buy now £195.00, Pringle of Scotland
Fred Perry roll neck knit
This Fred Perry roll neck is nice and light, which means it’s great for layering and would look the business teamed with a wool overcoat, white denim and a pair of commando-sole Chelsea boots. Having said that, it’d look good with pretty much anything, making it the sort of garment you’ll find yourself reaching for over and over again.
Buy now £99.00, End Clothing
Mr Porter double-faced cashmere cardigan
Admittedly, this bomber-cardigan hybrid from Mr Porter’s in-house label is eye-wateringly expensive. However, the second you get your hands on it you’ll understand why. Handmade in Italy from 100 per cent cashmere, this subtle layering piece absolutely reeks of quality. From the ultra-soft, double-faced fabric, right down to the glistening two-way zipper – it’s been finished to the highest standard. The low-profile fit means it’ll slot easily underneath an overshirt or coat while the collarless design makes it perfect for layering with a shirt.
Buy now £645.00, Mr Porter
The verdict: Men’s knitwear
Buy right the first time and you’ll only have to buy once. Inverallan’s 1A crewneck jumper is, admittedly quite expensive, but in terms of cost per wear, it represents an excellent investment. This is a jumper you’ll most likely have for the rest of your life and when you take that into account, £213 doesn’t seem nearly as steep. Still, if you want to spend less, we’d recommend Uniqlo’s lambswool jumpers which are hard to beat on price and quality.
Finish off your look by reading our round-up of the best men’s jeans