The Hunt: Classic Sweaters for Work

collage of 2 classic sweaters for work, a navy shawl-collar silk-cashmere pullover sweater and a silk-wool cardigan

collage of 5 classic sweaters for work including a black 100% cotton sweater blazer, a gray 100% cashmere crewneck, a green acrylic cardigan, a navy shawl-collar pullover in silk-cashmere, and a blue cardigan in silk-wool.

Sure, we all know what wardrobe essentials for work professional women are supposed to have in their closets, but if you’re buying one for the first time or replacing one you’ve worn into the ground, it can be a pain to find exactly the right incarnation in stores. In “The Hunt,” we search the stores for a basic item that every woman should have.

We haven’t done a hunt for classic sweaters for work for a long time, readers, so let’s discuss — what sweaters (and types of sweaters) are you loving right now? Are you wearing cashmere, merino, alpaca, or something else? Do you prefer sweater jackets or cardigans? Which sweaters do you have in multiple colors, and which ones are worth the splurge? Do tell…

First, let’s look at a few basic categories of classic sweaters….

{related: do check out our regularly updated list of wardrobe essentials for work!}

Table of Contents

Pictured at top: black 100% cotton sweater blazer / gray 100% cashmere crewneck / green extremely affordable cardigan (& regular) / navy shawl-collar pullover in silk-cashmere blend / blue cardigan in silk-wool blend

Our Favorite Sweater Jackets for the Office

collage of 5 women wearing the best sweater jackets for the office in 2023-24
Pictured above, great sweater jackets for the office as of 2023: black* / olive* / black* / navy / black (also this $70 one, and Kat loves this one*!) (* available in plus sizes; see our roundup for more)

{related: The Ultimate Guide to Business Casual for Women}

Classic Sweaters for Work in 100% Natural Fibers

A lot of our readers have expressed a preference for sweaters with only natural fibers, so we’re rounding up some specifically 100% natural sweaters for work.

The Best 100% Cotton Sweaters for Work

collage of 5 women wearing 100% cotton sweaters for work
Our favorite 100% cotton sweaters for work as of 2023 include: green* / white* / navy / blue short-sleeved* / navy twinset (also check J.Crew Factory,* J.Crew, and Quince!) (* = plus sizes) (Looking to splurge? Check here or here.)

{related: tips on creating a capsule wardrobe for work}

Great 100% Cashmere Sweaters for Work and Weekend

collage of 5 cashmere sweaters for work
Pictured above, some of the classic cashmere sweaters for work (as of 2023): 1) Nordstrom Cashmere* 2) Quince ($50!) 3) Vince* 4) J.Crew* 5) Naadam (Not pictured, but also check out Talbots* and Brooks Brothers!) If you’re looking for something fancier try TSE, Loro Piana, Akris, Autumn Cashmere, or (more casual) Jenni Kayne.

Other Classic Sweaters for Work in 100% Natural Fibers Like Merino, Silk, and More

Stay tuned for our roundups of sweaters in other natural fabrics… Some notes:

Our all-time favorite 100% merino sweaters for work include Uniqlo, Everlane, Banana Republic, J.Crew, and Lands’ End.

Cashmere Blends

As of October 2023, you can find cotton-cashmere sweaters at L.L.Bean, Quince, Reformation, Mersea, and Alex Mill; you can also sometimes find them from brands like Nordstrom Signature.

Some of our favorite silk-cashmere sweaters for work include these from LaLigne and Brooks Brothers; if you’re looking to splurge, Akris has a bunch right now.

Buck Mason has a lot of silk-cashmere-wool blend sweaters, including this turtleneck and this crewneck.

If you’re hunting for wool-cashmere sweaters, check out this lovely one from Kule.

Wool Blends

Silk-wool sweaters are hard to find, but Tory Burch’s bestselling cardigan fits the bill.

Hunting for sweaters in a wool-alpaca blend? Stay tuned for our full roundup, but as of 2023 check out AllSaints and Buck Mason.

{related: how to look great for work every day}

Great Sweater Tees (Perfect for Layering!)

collage of women wearing work-appropriate short-sleeve sweaters, aka sweater tees
Some of our favorite short-sleeve sweaters for 2023 include Quince ($45!), Ann Taylor, J.Crew,* and this Amazon bestseller. (* plus sizes too!) If you’re hunting for something fancier, check out Kule or The Reset. (Try code CORPORETTE10 for 10% off.) As of Sept. 2023, Nordstrom and Anthropologie both have a huge selection of sweater tees.

{related: the minimalist’s guide to dressing for work}

Classic Cardigans We Love

collage of four women wearing classic cardigans as twinsets for work in mint, blue, lavender, and pink
Pictured above, some of our favorite classic, stylish cardigans for the office as of 2023: mint* / blue* / lavender / pink* (* come in plus sizes too!) (not pictured but also)

Pashminas, Ruanas, and Other Sweater Wraps

These aren’t technically sweaters, but they’re often made from knits. I’ve always loved them because you can wear them on TOP of bulkier sweaters or blazers to add another warm layer, whether you’re sitting in your office or out and about. (They also make a great lap blanket when your legs are cold at the office!)

collage of women wearing office pashminas or travel wraps in black, green, gray and lavender
Some of our favorite office pashminas as of 2023: black / green / gray (lighter weight) / lavender ($20!!). If you’re looking for more of a ruana jacket, I highly recommend the Brooks Brothers’ ones!

Reader-Favorite Sweaters for Work Outfits

Note that not all of these are 100% natural fibers, but we’ve tried to note the details wherever possible!

A Great Sweater for Layering Under Suit Jackets: Brooks Brothers Silk-Cashmere Shawl Collar Sweater

a silk-cashmere shawl sweater from Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers has had a version of this style for more than a decade at this point, and I think that’s because it’s a perfect sweater. It’s soft, it’s lightweight, it’s a little bit luxe, and that high shawl neckline looks great under suit jackets and blazers as well as by itself. You can dress it up with a tailored suit, or dress it down with jeans.

The sweater is $168, available in sizes XS-XL, at Brooks Brothers.

An Investment Cardigan in Wool-Silk: Tory Burch Simone

blue cardigan in wool-silk blend

The Tory Burch Simone cardigan has been around for years — maybe since the very beginning of the blog, although it had a slightly longer length in years past. The new version of the Simone cardigan is made of wool and silk and is a bestseller at Tory Burch.

It currently comes in seven solid colors for $398. You can also find it at Tory Burch, Neiman Marcus, Saks, and other department stores.

A Great Warm Sweater With Interesting Prints: Talbots Audrey Cashmere Sweater

professional woman models cashmere sweater with crew neck; it has a bright pink floral print against an ivory background

Readers have loved the Audrey cashmere sweater for years — it’s warm and polished but definitely has a conservative vibe with its high neckline. The sweater comes in solid colors and interesting prints in regular, petite, plus, and plus petites for around $200.

The O.G. Jacket-Cardigan: M.M.LaFleur Woolf Jardigan

gray skirt suit made out of sweater material

M.M.LaFleur was the first company, as far as I know, to come out with the idea of a jacket-cardigan hybrid called the “jardigan” — the idea is that it’s cozy and soft like a cardigan, and less structured than a blazer, but like a blazer, it has some structure and adds polish and authority to your work outfit as a separate or “third piece.”

The brand has a number of jardigans now — a cropped version, this longer version, and even a belted version with lapels — but the Woolf remains a bestseller.

The jardigan is $295 and available in several neutral colors as well as a few seasonal colors. Note that both Nordstrom and Zappos sometimes carry the sweater jacket in the more neutral colors.

A 100% Cotton Sweater Jacket: J.Crew Factory Schoolboy Sweater Blazer

schoolboy sweater blazer from j.crew factory in color Loden

Sweater blazers have been a huge trend lately, and for good reason — like jardigans, they add polish and structure while also being cozy and comfy.

We’ve done a full roundup of our favorite sweater jackets for the office (as well as a roundup for plus-size sweater jackets!) but one of the longest-running reader favorite is the J.Crew Factory Sweater Blazer.

Not only is it affordable (full price is $138, but there are frequent sales!), but it comes in regular sizes XXS-3X as well as some petite sizes.

A Lightweight Cardigan for Warmer Months: Nic + Zoe 4-Way Convertible Sweater

bubblegum pink linen sweater that can be worn 4 ways

This 4-way convertible sweater keeps coming out in new colors (and sometimes even prints), and it’s a reader favorite because it’s so versatile.

It has hidden buttons to help you wear it multiple ways — wear it wrapped as a sweater (as shown) for a sleek look by itself, as an open cardigan when you want a lightweight top layer, or as a knotted or twisted shrunken sweater when you want more of a shrug (such as with an empire waist or pretty much any dress).

I’ve found it’s a perfect sweater to wear over sleeveless dresses in summer when you want a bit more coverage!

It’s available in regular and plus sizes at Nordstrom, Amazon, and many other department stores for just around $100. (The fabric is usually a linen-viscose blend, but Nic + Zoe just came out with a cotton-viscose blend.)

A Lightweight Knee-Length Cardigan: Halogen Longline Cardigan

woman wears navy sweater, white tank, and black pants

Longer cardigans like this come in and out of fashion, but I’ve always been a fan of wearing them as a softer look with sheath dresses or skirts. This particular cardigan has been around for years and keeps coming back in new colors.

It’s incredibly soft, and in my experience makes a great lightweight layer on warmer days.

It’s available in regular and plus sizes at Nordstrom for under $100.

An Affordable Cardigan That Feels Like a Blazer: Karen Scott Shawl Cardigan

plus-sized model wears a gray sweater jacket with a shawl collar, a white blouse and black work pants

This one is super affordable — in fact, it often comes down to under $20. We’ve featured it in our full roundup of our favorite sweater jackets for the office, but in truth this feels a bit softer and less structured than most sweater jackets. I have it in purple and have given it to two other women in my family for gifts; I find it adds a dash of polish to everything from trousers to jeans.

It comes in many colors in regularpetite, and plus sizes, and it’s $49-$54 full price. This one goes in and out of stock all the time, especially as it often dips pretty low on sale — all links are good as of Oct. 2023.

Readers, what are your favorite classic sweaters for work?

Like this feature? Check out other recent installments!

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