You’ve definitely seen it in the wild, perhaps as recently as today. Chances are, there’s at least one or two hanging in your closet. Hell, maybe you’re wearing one right now: The quarter-zip sweater. Is there a garment that better epitomizes dressing as a father? Probably not. Thank wardrobe stylists who dressed stick-in-the-mud dad characters in them. But who cares? Because the best quarter-zip sweaters and pullovers for men are smart, wear-anywhere staples that stand the test of time.
A hybrid sweater with a stand-up zip collar, the quarter-zip pullover is made to move around in, a bit more cleaned up than a crewneck sweatshirt, and more office-ready than a hoodie. It’s also a useful piece to have in your transitional wardrobe: The best quarter-zip pullovers are often softer and lighter than standard winter sweaters, making them easy to layer over a button-down shirt or t-shirt. They’re also a great mid-layer beneath a blazer or a quilted field coat.
The style first came to prominence as fleece found its way into more wardrobes in the ‘70s, but zip sweaters were also prized by adventurers and mariners for the extra coverage the stand-up collar provided. It’s still a popular style on the golf course or as a running top, too, especially when it’s made of moisture-wicking material.
Here, we’re concerned with the more casual offerings. And these eight quarter quarter-zip pullovers, each made with ultra-soft fabric and seasonally friendly colors, are our favorites.
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Marine Layer bills this pullover as a blend of a sweatshirt and a thermal shirt, judging by the close-knit waffle weave for both durability and lightweight-yet-warming comfort. Organic cotton is a nice sustainable touch you can feel good about wearing, while ribbing at the cuffs and waists helps the sweater stay in place as you move – it won’t ride up or expose your midriff. Bonus points for the spring-friendly Green Gables color, too.
The quarter-zip pullover, long before it became an easy-to-wear piece for guys on land, was trusted at sea and made with rugged quality by French outfitter Armor-Lux. Armor-Lux helped outfit the French Navy, and this aptly named sweater is a prime example of its utility in the wild, from the bold and easily visible stripes to the thick 100 percent wool construction. The zip placket is also shorter than other quarter-zip sweaters, providing more coverage around the neck in blustery weather.
Faherty has a magical formula on its hands with its Legend Collection: The fabric itself, whether in sweater form or as a stretch flannel shirt jacket, is ridiculously soft and wildly comfortable. It’s all wrapped up in one “throw on and go” package with the neutral, versatile Navy Twill Quarter Zip. The relaxed fit through the body makes it easy to layer over a henley or a soft-washed buttondown. Tapered sleeves provide a snug fit and protection from spring breezes, too.
This quarter-zip sweater features a burly but not-too-heavy cotton-blend build and sherpa lining for plenty of warmth. The end result is a speckled fleece pullover that looks like you unearthed it at a surplus store. It’s never a bad casual style move to wear a piece like this alongside broken-in denim with rugged leather boots on a cold spring night.
Out of all the brands on this list, Peter Millar makes the widest variety of quarter zip pullovers, in enough fabrics and colors to please even the pickiest shopper. The Stealth Performance Quarter Zip is also the pullover you should choose if you want a more active-minded version for golf or day hikes: The 92 percent polyester, 8 percent spandex blend is super-stretchy and easy to move around in. Note the Tailored fit and four-way stretch fabric, which is well-suited to wear over a lightweight, moisture-wicking polo. UPF 50+ sun protection is baked into the fabric.
The quarter-zip pullover makes plenty of sense as a functional and surprisingly rugged layer, and few companies are better suited to bring the style into the great outdoors than Scandinavian outfitter Fjallraven. Made from super-warm lambswool, the durability of this sweater is amped up even further thanks to abrasion-resistant elbow and shoulder patches made using Fjallraven’s famously weather-ready G-1000® fabric. The taller ribbed collar is designed for outstanding warmth and wind protection in blustery conditions, and even the reinforced chest pocket is designed with G-1000 fabric reinforcements to safely stow your EDC.
Searching for a quarter-zip sweater polished enough to handle Zoom calls and IRL meetings? This quarter-zip is a great choice. It’s made from 100 percent cashmere (take it to the dry cleaners if you run into any pitfalls) for a remarkably soft-to-the-touch finish. The color choices also give you some leeway in terms of style – go bold and fresh for spring with Blue Haze, or sleek and sharp with the “Black Caviar” option.
Fashioned from polyester and yet looking more polished than sporty, this is a helpful stretch pullover you can throw on at a moment’s notice without missing a beat. Think of it like a laidback layer when you need to catch a train on a cool day without the added bulk of a thick puffer jacket.
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