The best men’s crewneck sweatshirt is, if you’ll excuse the cliché, essential. Plenty of fashion-minded outlets like to use that term pretty liberally, but when it comes to the gray crewneck it’s actually true—next to a plain white T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans, it really is about as essential as it gets. It’s basic in the best way—cozy as a camp fire on the beach, never not wearable, and an integral part of menswear (not to mention cinematic) history.
The Best Crewneck Sweatshirts Shopping Guide
The humble gray crewneck helped Steve McQueen evade capture in The Great Escape, cemented John Travolta’s heartthrob status in Grease, and made Eddie Murphy a badass in Beverly Hills Cop. Paul Newman, the patron saint of laid-back menswear, wore one religiously. And today, a roster of famous—and famously stylish—dudes still put their trust in it. The only difference now is that it comes in a rainbow of different colors and silhouettes, not to mention fabrics far beyond the staid French terry. But for our money, every-dependable gray is still the shade to beat.
The allure is equal parts form and function, a distinct mix of hard-earned ruggedness wrapped in the blanketed exterior of a fine cotton knit. But the style’s enduring popularity also means the market is flooded with spins on the athletic-inspired classic, and finding the right one can feel like more hassle than it’s worth. So to help you chase a menswear icon status of your own, we hunted down the highest-quality, supremely versatile, absolute best men’s crewneck sweatshirt available today. [Insert endlessly quotable movie line here.]
The Best All-Around Crewneck Sweatshirt
Chief among Todd Snyder’s talents is that he knows how garments should fit on actual humans, not stick-thin male models named Sven. This sweatshirt hugs in the right places (biceps, back) and is relaxed where you want it to be (neck, belly). Snyder also isn’t the type to phone it in; every detail on this crewneck, from the wider cuffs to the thicker waistband hem to the chest pocket to the “V” stitch under the collar to the raglan sleeve (the kind that’s attached on an angle to the neck rather than the shoulder), is culled from the kinds of standard-issue sweats guys wore in gymnasiums and on the weekend 50-plus years ago, just reimagined the right way for today’s tastes.
Like most of our favorite sweatshirts, it’s crafted from a cotton-and-polyester blend (in this case 80/20) that provides the right mix of structure and softness (as nice to the touch on the outside as it spongy on the inside). All of that—coupled with a perfect shade of heather gray—makes for a sweatshirt that looks good in every situation imaginable, whether you’re hanging out in jeans and Chucks on the weekend or pairing it with an Oxford and tweed blazer at the office.
The Best Affordable Crewneck Sweatshirt
If your sweatshirt budget is decidedly smaller, your first stop should be Russell Athletic, the Alabama sportswear stalwarts who literally invented the crewneck sweatshirt way back in 1926. Almost a century later, they’re still turning out the best bang-for-your-buck fleece crew on the market. It’s got all the classic details that made Russell a household name: ribbing at the cuffs and hem, a V-insert collar, and a classic cut (size down if relaxed ain’t exactly your thing). The midweight 9 oz. fleece is pleasantly soft and warm, and it’s got moisture-wicking properties so if you run a little hot, it won’t emphasize the sweat in ‘sweatshirt’.
The Best Deceptively Dressy Crewneck Sweatshirt
At first glance, this cozy mid-weight crewneck might look like a regular sweatshirt, but upon closer inspection the subtle detailing—elegant dropped shoulders, a gently curved neck opening and smooth banded cuffs at the wrist, all in baby soft cashmere—give it away for the deceptively fancy sweater hybrid that it truly is. This Italian-made crewneck is like the fine leather goods of sweatshirts, meaning you can throw it over your most busted denim or pair it with your finest slacks and you’ll manage to look put together either way. It just has that effect. Oh, and did we mention it’s cashmere? Leave the regular sweats at home and throw this on when it’s time to flex your style muscle—quietly.
The Best Bonfire-Ready Crewneck Sweatshirt
Outerknown, the sustainably-minded California imprint founded by pro surf legend Kelly Slater, makes easy-wearing Angeleno staples that won’t make you look like a beach bum. (Or, for that matter, the beach bum.) Naturally, the brand’s best-selling sweatshirt is cut from a supremely cozy French terry fabric crafted from a blend of slubby hemp and plush, good-for-the-planet organic cotton.