Not too long ago I talked about one of the easiest ways to upgrade your casual game. While I stand by the crewneck sweatshirt as the ideal option for a man’s casual style, I firmly believe that one of the easiest ways to separate yourself from all the beta schlubs of the world is to dress both more intentionally and a bit more formally. Essentially, a man should have his default style skew more towards a four or five on the casual-to-formal scale as opposed to the two or three level on which his peers reside.
To that end, I present what should be your default fall attire.
Cardigans can be tough to pull off, so I’ll tell you the keys to doing so.
If you’re going to wear it as a single piece and not as a layer under a jacket or blazer, you want to find a cardigan that is made of a thick wool and looks heavier and chunkier. Larger, bulkier sweaters originated with working-class men like dock workers and fishermen. As a result, their appearance comes across as much more traditionally masculine than the thin versions worn by Mr. Rogers.
To take that pacifist avoidance even further, you’ll want to make sure you’re following the advice of the rest of the crew here and getting larger. This means eating better, hitting the gym, and having some self discipline. More muscular men look better in cardigans than their scrawny brethren. Part of this is because of the consistency provided with the heavier cardigan’s workwear origins, and part is the contrast inherent in a more rugged man wearing something that’s now considered to be a bit more nerdy and soft.
As always, a good fit is imperative. Shoulders should fit correctly, the length of both the body and the sleeves should be spot on, and it should fit without either appearing baggy or being so slim it constricts movement.
Try to find buttons or toggles made from natural materials. Wood, leather, horn and others all appear more masculine than their plastic counterparts.
Opt for neutral colors. You want to the focus to be on you, not on the sweater itself.
Use this as your outermost layer. As you can see in the picture above, the man is wearing a lighter sweater as a layering piece beneath his cardigan. An item this substantial will look silly if it’s stuffed beneath a jacket or coat.
Wear it as often as you can. Pieces like this look better over time. As they shape themselves to you, they’ll take on more character and help you look like a man with stories to tell, as opposed to someone who simply knows how to take advantage of the best sales at the mall.