A sweater (or jumper) is a warm knitted garment that covers the chest and arms. Generally, it is looser and lighter than a woven jacket or coat, but it may still be tailored with darts and other tailoring features that are used in woven garments. Knitted fabrics may also be more elastic and have a softer hand than woven textiles.
The sweater has become one of the most prevalent wardrobe items in both women’s and men’s closets, largely because of its comfort. Its warmth can help reduce the need to use a heater or air conditioning at work or home, making it an energy saver. Its style and fashion have varied, too, with designers offering both traditional options and more relaxed alternatives.
During the 1920s and ’30s, sweaters grew in popularity, particularly when celebrities – including The Prince of Wales and designer Coco Chanel – wore them as part of their golfing attire. The modern shawl collar sweater is descended from military or “infantry” sweaters that were given to American GIs, and many are cable-knit and offer 1-3 buttons or toggles that can be functional or decorative.
Sweaters are often made from natural fibers such as wool, cashmere, and cotton. However, synthetics – such as nylon and polyester – are increasingly used because they stretch more easily, feel good against the skin, and cost less than their natural peers. Whenever possible, try to find natural-fiber sweaters and avoid synthetics.