How to Find the Only Sweater You’ll Need for Fall & Winter

sweater leandra medine style

You know those cleaning supply commercials where a big pile of uni-tasking products are swept off to the side and replaced by this miracle worker thing that can do it all? I want that in a sweater. Just like, the single perfect sweater to best all others. The one I could wear over all my collared shirts, under all my decorative jackets (by these I mean any ilk of like, blazer, or tweed collarless dude) tucked into jeans or out with wide-leg pants. It looks cool with denim shorts and tights, or a mini skirt and loafers. I don’t get cast arm (that thing where you can’t bend your elbows) in my winter coats, and most valuably, never have to think again about how I’m going to keep the top half of my person warm. I’ve wanted this for a while but have mostly failed to find it. I am a woman of many very good knits, but none so far are The One. So what’s it gonna take to find it?

It’s been, like, an hour and a half since I wrote that paragraph and two weeks since I pitched this story, and I’ve spent a pretty significant amount of time before all of this thinking about finding The One. For me, for you, for us.

I tried to create a matrix to help us evaluate what makes a sweater The One but I keep tripping over myself because, now that I’m here, I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all sweater. I thought I hadn’t found it because I’ve been shopping in a silo, assessing knits based on their merits alone as opposed to how they fit in with the elements of my closet but now I’m convinced that The One is actually more like The Three—from which you can pick Your One.

Either that, or I give up. But hear me out first! I wear a ton of jeans. But also a good number of mini skirts and shorts. I like leggings and loose-fit pants, a surprise attack from a jumpsuit on occasion. And in the context of all these scenarios, I want to add a sweater, because a sweater is a hug, and I love getting hugged, but sometimes I need that touch from a lover. Other times from my mom and on occasion, too, I need one from you so here’s what I can offer: three different kinds of sweaters, for the different kinds of people from which I desire that hug. Or in other words: as informed by the clothes you’re most likely to wear. I hope this helps. If it doesn’t, just know that I hired a babysitter last Saturday so I could go to my office and write this.

If you are most likely to wear: wide-leg or non-denim pants, exercise clothes or suits, try a crew neck that is lightweight and short enough to tuck into your pants, but still thick enough to look deliberate when styled to be worn untucked:

I really like this one from Mansur Gavriel—the crew neck is tight enough to hug my neck, but open enough to not choke me. It looks good over a t-shirt (you can see a sliver of the t’s neckline) or turtleneck, but is just as comfortable under a decorative jacket, or stuffed into a pair of wide-leg pants. It’s got a loose hem, which is why I like it for tight-ass exercise pants, and that makes it a good contender to layer over something else you plan to leave untucked—it creates this like, fabric waterfall. I’d wear the same top half-styled here with denim cut-offs and tights. This one is styled for the office.

Btw: the shoes are Manolo Blahnik, I got them from you know where for $105.

If you are most likely to wear: dresses, skirts, the occasional jumpsuit or need a quick dry top coat for the pajamas that you socialize in, try a cardigan.

This one is from my collabolab with Mango, which is out today! I wish I’d also made it in navy, but then again, the whole point of this exercise, I mean story, is streamlining. One is enough. You can wear this just as easily with the wide-leg or non-denim pants from example 1, but it doesn’t make for a great layering experience under decorative jackets. It’s not too long, so you won’t look schleppy if you wear it with a jumpsuit or your socializing PJs, and obviously it looks guhhhhreat with a pleated skirt and socks, but that opinion is biased, and you seem pretty equitable, so, do with that what you want.

Btw: I also really like this one from Entireworld, which I wore on day 3 of Office Apropos last week.

If you’re a jeans person through and through, try a thick knit turtleneck with a loose hem.

This one is Toteme. It retails for $540 and asking you to seriously consider investing in it is probably the same as like, recommending you have 6 $80 gratings of truffle sprinkled over your pasta because it won’t be the same without it so here are a couple of alternative options that make a good case for themselves.

The reason I recommend this silhouette is because it looks good with all jeans. All of them—wide leg, skinny, high waist, ripped, cropped, boot cut, flare, butt cut, ham sandwich, asymmetric. It’s also good with leggings. I’d probably pair it with nothing but some opaque tights and festive heels, too, and as it relates to this sweater in particular, it’s also not oppressively warm. In that way, it feels a lot like the hug from a lover I was talking about earlier. I’ve also worn it at least 15 times and have only had it like 2 months/it’s not even winter yet. So that’s something. Plus, it’s prime up-to-us-not-fuck-it-up-sweater-sandal-weather, so you know the drill.

Was this helpful? I don’t think you need to get all of these, or even any of these, maybe you already have them! If nothing else, let them serve as ~inspo~ and remember: Not trying to pressure you into liking me, but I hired a babysitter so I could write this for you. It was worth it.

Photos by Sabrina Santiago.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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