It’s easy to vividly picture the stereotypical embarrassing dad. He’s standing there holding court at a family gathering, sipping on a Bud Lite, haplessly misjudging the room while cracking awkward jokes about politics. But wait! As words slur out his mouth, a slightly jarring thought occurs to you that, despite his questionable humor, controversial beliefs, and the fact he is drunkenly humiliating himself in front of the entire room, here is a guy who knows how to dress.
The signifier is not his ice-white Nike Monarchs or Levi’s 501s, but his classy half-zip sweater.
When it comes to foundational basics that every guy should keep in their wardrobe, the half-zip sweater is often criminally overlooked. Unfairly associated with rapidly aging dudes like the one I imagined above and Silicone Valley bros who inexplicably wore it with a shirt underneath, the half-zip is a layering dream. Think of it like the fleece’s little, altogether lighter brother — the outerwear piece you reach for when doing the hungover bodega run and it’s still balmy out. Conversely, if it’s cold and you require some extra insulation, wear it under a jacket. Throw in the fact it looks good with both sneakers and smart shoes, and you have a secret weapon to be reckoned with for the problematic spring/summer transitional season.
Finding a nice half-zip sweater needn’t break the bank. For example, walk around the Highsnobiety office at any given time of the day and you’ll see, like, 47 different people wearing this $30 staple from workwear king Dave’s New York. If you do want something slightly more exorbitant, however, Acne Studios, Maison Margiela, and (for those who really want to nail that DILF-enjoying-himself-at-a-ski-lodge-fondue-party-in-Saint-Moritz vibe) Bruno Cucinelli all have dope options. My favorite, however, is Ezra Koenig’s navy blue Dries Van Noten bad boy that he’s been wearing a ton, often with no T-shirt underneath, on Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride tour. What a vibe!
If you’re still struggling for inspiration, peruse our list of the best half-zip sweaters for men below.
Han Kjobenhavn Half-Zip Sweat
Denmark’s most Danish sounding brand comes through with a slightly baggy, ’90s-inflected take on the classic half-zip sweat. Bring the rave!
Carhartt WIP Walker Half-Zip Sweater
If Carhartt WIP was an automobile, it would be a Land Cruiser, i.e. the ultimate workhorse. This $120 half-zip will last for years.
Champion Polar Fleece Half-Zip
And the heritage names just keep on coming. Let this olive green baby from Champion be your secret weapon when drunken summer days in the park segue into slightly chilly evenings.
PacSun Half-Zip Polar Fleece Pullover
We never knew we wanted a caramel polar fleece until now. Huge Werthers Originals energy!
Prada Half-Zip Cotton Sweater
This chunky cable knit looked great on the SS19 runway. It’ll look even better on you.
ADER Error Oversized Half Zip
Is there anything cozier than an oversized half-zip? Take advantage of the unintentional modular construction by using it as a sleeping bag.
C.E Block Fleece Half Zip Sweatshirt
Quite simply, you won’t find a better quality fleece for the money anywhere. In fact, we’d probably spend more on a night out.
Brain Dead Half-Zip Hooded Sweatshirt
Not even the ropey styling in the photo above can detract from the fact this half-zip is a banger. Talk about a roomy pocket!
Norse Projects Alfred Half-Zip Pullover
A reasonably priced alternative to Ezra’s Dries half-zip (see image above), this minimalist offering from Norse Projects can be layered with basically anything. Yes, even a leather jacket.
Martin Asbjørn “Andrew” Zip-Up Sweater
The “Andrew” Zip-Up Sweater from Martin Asbjørn is a considered mix of collegiate and high-fashion cues, making this piece perfect for just about any occasion.
Rassvet Fleece Zip Pullover
Last but not least, Russian skate brand Rassvet comes through with this woolen beauty. Soft to the point people will be forming a queue to hug you.
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