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We’re in the midst of the great sweater polo renaissance. Celebrities have been pushing the agenda for a couple of years now, and, per the laws of trickle-down ‘fitanomics, the swanky style — pioneered by hunks of decades past, from Harrison Ford to Robbert Redford — is finally popping up in the masses as a genuine staple for stylish office bros and influencer wannabees everywhere. What was once reserved for tennis stars and yacht owners is now game for the everyman, and boy, are we psyched. After all, the big, wide world of affordable sweater polos has never looked better.
The Sweater Polo Is Your Secret Weapon Spring Wardrobe ItemIt’s swolo season, you guys
Leading the charge in the swolo game is two names you’re bound to recognize: Abercrombie and J.Crew. You might be less familiar with their new and improved sweater polos, championed on TikTok, which makes perfect sense: both mall brands have embraced new leadership, and subsequently enjoyed immense success pivoting to more relaxed, menswear-friendly styles. Both labels are making affordable sweater polos like you’ve never seen them before, with new cuts and patterns that have totally revolutionized what “out of office” can look like.
Obviously, the real question here is not “Should I be wearing a sweater polo?”, but “Which one is right for me?” We decided to tackle this quandary the only way we know how — by pitting our two favorite affordable sweater polos, Abercrombie and J.Crew, head-to-head, and testing from fit, function and general quality. Below, you’ll be able to soak in our swolo findings, and decide once and for all which one you’ll be wearing for the rest of spring.
Material: 100% Cotton | Fit: Tailored
- A dressy option for the office and special occasions alike
- Cable-knit detailing adds a real sweater feel to the knit
- The solid weave is perfect for fans of a hefty top
- Easy to wear under a blazer
- It will be too heavy for serious summer heat
- Tailored fit is borderline too slim
- Awkward amount of skin between second and third buttons
Material: 60% Cotton/20% Nylon/20% Viscose | Fit: Relaxed
- Relaxed fit is perfect for warm-weather
- Banded cuffs provide a flattering pull
- Tons of colors, fits and patterns
- Unmatched affordability
- Doesn’t tuck particularly well
- Relaxed fit can feel oversized
- Looser weave than J.Crew
What We Tested For:
J.Crew and Abercrombie’s options are both sweater polos by name, but in terms of fit, they couldn’t be more different. J.Crew’s Cable-Knit Sweater Polo fits like a classic snug polo, with a true-to-size weave that sits heavy and fitted to the body. Abercrombie, on the other hand, is relaxed, bordering on oversized — enough so that we recommend sizing down if you want a snugger fit. That’s not to suggest it isn’t flattering, as the banded waist and arms pull on the biceps and cover and less-than-flattering midsections.
Another item of note is, for lack of a better term, tuckability. We had no problem pairing J.Crew’s heftier polo with an easy suit, but Abercrombie’s lightweight weave and relaxed fit caused the fabric to bunch and the central placket to warp when we tried to sinch up the shirt.
As with any truly affordable piece of clothing, there’s only so much that you can ask for from a sweater polo. That being said, the soft brushed finish of J.Crew’s cable-knit polo feels noticeably more quality than its competitor. While both have the traditional softness and flexibility of a cotton sweater, Abercrombie’s nylon-blended polo fabric feels less sturdy when called upon, and lacks the thick seams that J.Crew’s sports. Both sweater polos do feel like a total steal for their respective values.
J.Crew’s sweater polo is, in essence, more sweater than polo, and can dress up a pair of work chinos (or dress down a lightweight suit) just like your favorite cable knit can. It’s not as breathable as the Abercrombie swolo, but that also means more coverage during the sweltering board meeting or fancy-restaurant first date.
On the other hand, Abercombie’s sweater polo is designed to be casual, and better still, breathable, with an airy flow that’ll keep you cool on even the most sweltering of days. It’s perfect as temps get warmer, and it’s an insta-pack for any upcoming vacations that include the beach, sand or the word “tropical”.
J.Crew vs. Abercrombie: Which One Is Right for You?
TLDR: J.Crew’s Sweater Polo is undeniably classy, with a Talented Mr. Ripley cable-knit that’d look right at home in any office…or, on any Hinge date. Coupled with a strong, primary palette of color offerings and a perpetually on-sale status, it’s the perfect swolo choice for any dude (appropriately) concerned with his work ‘fits or prepping for a packed social calendar this spring.
TLDR: If jonesing for a laid-back, pool-side summer (and all the associated IG likes that come with your hard-won six-pack) is more your style, Abercrombie’s loose-fitting cotton blend sweater polo is the only one for you. It’s an incredible value proposition — we’ve seen the style drop as low as $29 in recent weeks — and it on-trend design amounts to a hard-to-beat knit, especially with some baggies and a no-care-in-the-world attitude.
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