A Rugged Roll-Neck Sweater Is the Only Layer You Need Right Now

Like the turtleneck, the roll-neck sweater boasts a history that goes back centuries. The version you’re probably familiar with skews nautical in origin, a chunky, intricate knit favored by fisherman for its distinct low collar that allows for easy on/off access.

Unlike the turtleneck, though, the roll-neck promises plenty of rugged appeal without making you look like a Berlin-based art director. Where crewnecks keep your torso warm but leave your neck exposed to blistering winds—and turtlenecks feel like overkill when the sun pokes out again—the roll-neck is a meet-in-the middle layer that feels just right.

Seven Roll Neck Sweaters Worth Your Dollars

Another key differentiator? The fit. Roll-neck sweaters skew slouchier and more relaxed than their counterparts, a vibe that endeared them to the artists of the swinging ‘60s and well-heeled undergrads two decades later. (When J.Crew introduced its now-legendary take in 1988, ditching the wool for a dense, breathable cotton that could stand up to the hustle-and-bustle of campus life, it emerged as one of the catalog brand’s biggest hits.)

So to help you keep your cool—and protect just the right amount of your neck—we rounded up seven of the best what-season-is-it roll-neck sweaters on the market right now. If you’ve been struggling to hack the winter layering game, it’s time to meet your new star player.

The OG Pick


1988 Heritage Cotton Rollneck Sweater

If you didn’t manage to snag one of the true-blue vintage riffs J.Crew dropped last week, don’t fret: the brand offers plenty more that will scratch your retro itch. Thanks to a dense ribbed knit cut to resemble the version that hit its stride in the ’80s, the revamped 1998 Heritage roll-neck sweater is a legend in the making for a new generation.

The Temperature-Regulating Pick

January weather can be unpredictable—one day it’s snowing, the next day there’s a downpour, and the day after that it’s a sunny 40 degrees again. If pulling on a wool knit puts the sweat in sweater, Alex Mill’s roll-neck, cut from a chunky-but-breathable lived-in cotton, will keep you comfortably toasty.

The Eclectic Grandpa Pick


Signature Organic Cotton Rollneck Sweater

Older folks have plenty of wisdom to offer when it comes to getting dressed. Take, for example, their steadfast devotion to sweaters exactly like this—and then take a page out of their style book when it comes to wearing it, too.

The Eclectic Grandson Pick

Abercrombie’s roll-neck is for fellas that want to harness the style’s retro energy without kowtowing to it. The cotton-wool blend promises to keep the shivers at bay, but the hint of nylon keeps the whole shebang as comfortable as a fleece zip-up. Pair this cozy, lived-in knit with baggy jeans and and aughts-era sneakers and make like a ’90s-era A-lister leaving LAX.

The Office-Friendly Pick

Plenty of roll-neck sweaters are rugged, but only a few of ‘em are refined. Todd Snyder’s falls firmly into the latter camp thanks to its heavyweight merino wool make and speckled texture—hardy enough to wear solo with jeans on the weekend, luxe enough to layer under a suit jacket during the week. Extra points if you tuck it into a pair of pleated trousers to really nail the landing.

The Sweatshirt-Like Pick

Les Tien’s supremely chilled-out roll-neck combines the respectability of a sweater with the comfort of a sweatshirt. Ditch the hoodie and throw it on over a threadbare tee—or under a rumpled button-up—the next time you get called into a last-minute Zoom, and no one will suspect you’re swaddled in some of the coziest French Terry on the market.

The Spring-Ready Pick

Acne Studios

Floral Intarsia Wool Blend Sweater

Plenty of roll-neck sweaters go the subtler route, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from a funkier contender designed to elicit double-takes. Acne’s is made from a shaggy wool-mohair blend decked out with an eye-grabbing floral motif (and key hits of subtle distressing, for added texture) to remind you of sunnier days ahead.

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