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Is the fisherman sweater GOATed with the sauce? Do you even remotely understand what that means? We’ll spell it out for you, grandpa — the classic seafaring style is as solid as your trusty shacket and an absolute classic of knitwear rit large, not to mention our personal favorite for the autumnal season ahead. It’s a timeless staple seen in every fall movie and on the back of every goddamn Kennedy for a reason: it’s got insulating versatility, preppy curb appeal and timeless charm on lock.
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What Is a Fisherman Sweater?
Thought to have originated from the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland in the early 20th century, fisherman sweaters go by many names — cable knits, Aran jumpers, seafaring knits — but the style is unified by a series of woven, patterned ribs down the exterior of the sweater and a hearty construction that originally leaned on unscoured wool for their lanolin-ladden, water-resistant properties.
While the fisherman sweaters of today often opt for more comfortable wool or cotton blends, the same qualities that made the garment so desirable over a hundred years ago — warm, hardy, chunky — remain as relevant as ever. And while the style has been majorly moored to the metropolitan, its robust origins make it more than a match for bitter winter days.
What to Consider When Purchasing a Fisherman Sweater
Material: As we’ve previously mentioned, wool and cotton are the main culprits when it comes to fisherman sweater materials, and rightfully so — the purpose of the weave is to keep the wearer warm and dry, so only a heavy, insulating fabric will do. As such, consider well-sourced materials (Scotland is considered the primary exporter for high-grade wool) for a warmer, denser weave, but be forewarned — the chunkiest of fisherman sweaters are anything but breathable.
Cut: Fisherman sweaters are typically imagined in a classic crewneck cut, but other versions exist, from long-line cardigans to rustic rollnecks, each offering their own benefits. Regardless, most fisherman sweaters are prone to shrinkage (especially when they come in contact with hot water), so factor in some minor size difference when choosing which shape is best for you.
Price: Influenced by everything from the aforementioned material and cut to import fees oversees, it can be difficult to know exactly what to pay for a solid fisherman sweater. Expect to shell out $150-$250 retail for a quality knit that won’t fall apart instantly, with some caveats — tons of versions of the fisherman sweater often hits sale shelves, and can be snagged for well under $100 (many of which are included below). Likewise, a particularly pricey knit (those we’ve called out, at least) can be worth its weight in gold, whether for its sheer durability or unmatched clout, and we wholeheartedly support dishing out for some serious seawear.
We’ve taken the liberty of assembling our favorites, from the likes of a British outfitter that’s been around since 1796 to Orvis’ Americana take to a good old-fashioned L.L. Bean knit. One of the options is even made from a blend of pulverized oyster shells and recycled plastic bottles. The through line? Each of them looks rugged, feels incredible and will make you feel like a bona fide longshoreman. Below, the best fisherman sweaters for men in 2023.
The Best Fisherman Sweaters for Men
L.L. Bean Signature Cotton Fisherman Sweater
Fisherman sweaters wear in immaculately, which is why they often come with hefty price tags. Here’s a more approachable option from a brand that rarely misses, with all the old-school class of a daring JFK Jr.
Drake’s Brushed Shetland Cable Knit Crew Neck Sweater
There’s no brand we’re more excited about right now that U.K.-based Drake’s — the suiting-heavy label has been making menswear fun again with a mash of fresh faces and modern takes on tried-and-tested classics. Case in point: The Shetland Cable Crew incorporates authentic ’30s-style construction and cloud-esque lambswool with a playful modern grey.
Sunspel Cable-Knit Merino Wool Sweater
Sunspel’s Cable-Knit Sweater is about as classic (and as Prince Charming) as you can get, utilizing British traditional techniques in the label’s own factory for a pure merino wool end product that’s cloud-like and insulating.
Wills Cable Knit Wool Sweater
Wills Aran Cable Crew is a certified workhorse — rugged, hefty and primed to age like a fine wine.
Fjallraven Ovik Roller Neck Sweater
Alexander Skarsgård in Succession. That’s it. That’s the post.
Ghiaia Cashmere Slim-Fit Cable-Knit Cotton Polo Shirt
Less a chunky sweater and more a grandpa-style long-sleeve, this poppy polo from Pasadena-based Ghiaia Cashmere brings an all new dimension to cable-knit.
Buck Mason Donegal Tweed Cable Crew
Woven from the finest 9-gauge Italian yarn-dyed wool, this classic fitting (read: slightly beefy and totally flattering) crewneck is flecked with what looks to be Donegal tweeds. Wear with your finest Oxford shirt for maximum effect.
Rhythm Mohair Fisherman Knit Sweater
You’re jonesing for a deal, we’re jonesing for an alternative to the drab ecru and moody navy that typically command the fisherman sweater’s palette. We call that a win-win.
Séfr Alain Cable-Knit Alpaca-Blend Sweater
Chunky, pink alpaca-blend cable-knit? Chunky, pink alpaca-blend cable-knit
Wellen Seawool Fisherman Shawl Cardigan Sweater
The aforementioned oyster-bottle sweater, Wellen’s recycled yarn blend is called Seawool, and holds up remarkably well even in damp conditions. We’re particularly partial to the cardigan iteration.
Orvis Cable Crewneck Sweater
Nothing to see here — just a solid cable crewneck that’ll last you for a couple of decades.
Pendleton Shetland Fisherman Sweater
Pendleton’s Shetland Sweater is no blanket, but it is made from 100% Shetland wool, meaning you’ll stay as warm and dry as you would be swaddled on your couch. Bonus points for the nod to traditional cable-knit design.
NN07 Bert Cable-Knit Rollneck Sweater
Name a chicer way to cover your neck. We’ll wait.
Taylor Stitch The Orr Sweater
Hey, is that the sweater from “When Harry Met Sally”?
Noah Fisherman Sweater
Maybe the only sweater on this list that we’d feel comfortable ollie-ing and then meeting her parents for dinner in.
Mr P. Cable Knit Wool Sweater
Designed in-house by the Mr Porter team, this wool sweater is heavier than most of the competition and perfect for upcoming holiday romps.
Thom Browne 4 Bar Donegal Cable Knit Cardigan
Even the greats couldn’t have dreamed of the heights the lowly fisherman sweater would reach in the hands of CFDA-lauded Thom Browne.
J.Crew Cashmere Cable-Knit Sweater
Tired of itchy wool? Try this luxurious cashmere knit from J.Crew and never scratch again. Intricately designed with individual links and draped in a soft grey, it’s the great way to display that you’re sophisticated and sensitive.
Polo Ralph Lauren Iconic Cricket Sweater
Decidedly more elegant than the majority of its salty counterparts, this Ralph Lauren Cricket Sweater reads less “out on the water” and more “tucked away in the classroom,” something that we’re not mad about in the slightest.
Norse Projects Arild Cable Crew Knit
Want a sweater that menswear nerds and your girlfriend can equally appreciate? Look no further than Norse Project’s Arlid Knit. Infusing the Copenhagen-based brand’s understated aestheticism into a classic woven design, the sweater is warm, sleek and oh-so comfortable. Plus, eye catching!
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