Where are all of the professional WARM sweaters?
October 24, 2020 8:51 PM   Subscribe

I need some professional sweaters for work that are WARM. I say "WARM" because all of the professional looking sweaters I see are delicate and lightweight and simple won't keep me warm. I'd love to wear Patagonia or REI outdoor sweaters all winter long because they'd keep me warm, but they aren't professional. Help?
posted by Toddles to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Tangential, but have you considered wearing merino wool thermals/undershirts under the fancy lightweight sweaters? IMHO that combination is even more toasty than a fat sweater! ‘Merino base layer’ should gets you lots of results. Smartwool and Icebreaker are big brands but there are lots of options.
posted by The Toad at 9:32 PM on October 24, 2020 [12 favorites]

Similarly, my secret professional weapon is alpaca: super warm, stylish and soft. i like the Novica brand which seems to have an association withNational Geographic and ethically sources from Peru.
posted by mollymillions at 9:42 PM on October 24, 2020 [5 favorites]

Could you work with one of these? My SO has an office job, it fit in there.
posted by vrakatar at 9:52 PM on October 24, 2020

Does your aesthetic lean more masculine or feminine?
posted by mollymayhem at 10:50 PM on October 24, 2020

Pure high-quality, cashmere is warm, just not cheap.
posted by whitelotus at 4:17 AM on October 25, 2020 [16 favorites]

Perhaps you could layer a cashmere sweater like this under a wool blazer?

FWIW I have a couple of the Everlane sweaters and they’ve held up well for two years of regular wear (once a week during fall and winter).

Also nthing the long underwear suggestion. Silk long underwear was a game-changer when I had a cold commute followed by a cold office. Not only was I warmer, it was easier to get dressed every day because I didn’t need my office clothes themselves to be as warm.
posted by brackish.line at 4:51 AM on October 25, 2020

I often wear a lightweight merino wool sweater as a layering piece (Lord and Taylor is my usual go-to but other department stores sell similar stuff). Can be worn with just a t shirt (ideally long sleeve and insulating) or you can also add a shirt/blazer/cardigan or some combination of the above over top.
posted by mskyle at 5:00 AM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by Toddles at 5:12 AM on October 25, 2020

Depending on how "country" you can go with your look, I recommend Woolovers. The lambswool line of sweaters are good, but you want a shirt underneath them (which you need anyway for warmth.) They're machine washable but I would hand-wash. Don't get the cashmere-cotton, it pills. If you can go a little more rustic, the warmest (yet bulkiest) are the Pure Wool. I also used to get the men's cardigans when "boyfriend" was in style.

Still nothing works like cashmere in terms of lightweight warmth. I usually bought the "house brand" from department stores, particularly Lord and Taylor, when it went on sale in January. Yoox also has good ones in their house brand 8. For my most formal "stealth cardigans" under a suit jacket, I have some of these, and many brands do a similar cut.

I also always wear a Uniqlo HeatTech t-shirt underneath them, and often a collared shirt of cotton, plain flannel, or silk as well.
posted by Hypatia at 5:41 AM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is my go-to:

It’s not cheap but it’s well-made and it’s on sale now if you email the site with a picture of some proof of voting - even voter registration works!
posted by honeybee413 at 7:13 AM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I have a thick, gray long cashmere shawl sweater (with sleeves, but doesn’t close or button) that lives in my desk drawer. It was expensive, but I got it on sale, and it has lasted me 10 years. It is similar to this sweater.

It layers nicely and professionally on anything and it the equivalent of a work appropriate blanket when it’s cold.
posted by slateyness at 7:17 AM on October 25, 2020

Uniqlo cashmere. If they don't have stores in your area, they ship. I've been wearing them for work for several years and they're study, hold up considerably longer than most other brands I've tried, and are surprisingly cost-competitive. Looks like they're currently on sale for $59.90 (wow, I need to restock).

I would suggest learning how to wash them properly at home - they'll stay nicer looking longer and you'll avoid the dry-cleaning charges. A sweater shaver is also a cheap purchase that helps you get more life out of a sweater, because even the nicer ones will eventually pill.
posted by pie ninja at 7:46 AM on October 25, 2020 [4 favorites]

Forgot to say: My warmest cardigan is made of a mohair blend. It's incredibly warm and looks gorgeous but unfortunately I don't wear it much because it's scratchy. If you pay extra for a kid mohair-silk blend cardigan though, it would presumably be both warm and non-scratchy. Kid mohair is from shearing baby goats and is finer, more expensive and less scratchy than adult mohair.
posted by whitelotus at 8:20 AM on October 25, 2020

Seeing Uniqlo mentioned reminds me I bought a heat tech fleece turtleneck from them once that was comfortable for below-freezing temperatures and is so warm that I haven't been able to wear it in California hardly at all. Definitely recommend checking out their stuff. Doesn't look like their full winter collection is in on the website yet.
posted by Lady Li at 8:20 AM on October 25, 2020

Yes to uniqlo cashmere, merino.

For an inexpensive option, I got some wool sweaters from H&M’s conscious collection last winter and they were surprisingly warm and less than $30.
posted by beignet at 8:28 AM on October 25, 2020

I'm a big fan of Cashmere or merino wool, which I often end up wearing under a blazer.
posted by notjustthefish at 10:18 AM on October 25, 2020

If Eileen Fisher fits your style, you can filter the Eileen Fisher Renew website by material. Lots of merino, cashmere, alpaca, silk (and yak!) of various weights for layering. Renew is gently used clothes from their circular take-back program, so it's cheaper but not cheap, but this stuff is made to last. I have a sweater very similar to this chunky but loosely-knit merino one and it is amazingly warm and breathable at the same time.
posted by doift at 12:02 PM on October 25, 2020

Fine spun pure merino wool.
posted by wwax at 12:18 PM on October 25, 2020

Silk is a shockingly great insulator. A silk shirt under a sweater will boost the warmth tremendously.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 12:52 PM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Seconding the recommendations for baby alpaca and cashmere, which are soft and very warm. The one pure cashmere cardigan I have is so warm that I only wear it when it is very cold. I wear a base layer under it, always, so I can go longer between washing it. (This is the same for any of my natural fibre sweaters.)

You might already know this, but just in case, these are the care instructions I use for cashmere, alpaca and merino sweaters: I only wash it with a biodegradable no rinse wool wash (I use Soak). I use the recommended dilution, gently squeeze the suds through and let soak for 20 minutes, gently squeeze the suds through again, roll in a towel to squeeze out excess water, lay flat to dry. After it’s dry I steam out the wrinkles by laying it flat on an ironing board and holding a steam iron an inch or so above the surface to get the wrinkles out. Again, I always wear a base layer so I’m not washing these sweaters too often.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2020

Boden is an English brand I like, and I've found their sweaters to be high-quality, professional-looking, and generally way too warm for my Los Angeles winters, so they might be cozy enough for your needs!
posted by erst at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2020

Garnet Hill has cashmere sweaters, now I covet one. Nordstrom Rack. Lands' End. LL Bean has silk long underwear that is very light and comfortable and pretty warm; their seach is horrible, so not finding a link. A wool pashmina is office-worthy and quite warm. You have to shop carefully and get wool, the acrylic ones don't look as nice and are not as warm.
posted by theora55 at 3:12 PM on October 25, 2020

Naadam also has very nice, warm cashmere sweaters. There's a mix of styles, but some would be very good for a professional setting.
posted by eviemath at 6:57 PM on October 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yep, merino wool. I've had good luck with Smartwool clothing.
posted by nosila at 12:57 PM on October 27, 2020

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