The best men’s shawl collar cardigans take the coziness their daintier counterparts are famous for and crank it up to 11. For decades, they were the domain of unwittingly stylish geezers (and mood board fodder for guys who worshipped Steve McQueen), beloved for their unbeatable winter-busting powers and slightly professorial appeal. It’s easy to see why: Wearing the right shawl collar cardigan should feel like wrapping yourself in a big ol’ blanket, if nan-nan’s quilt could also double as a swerve-y piece of outerwear when a jacket seems like overkill. They might not layer as easily as the collar-less joints you already know and love, but it doesn’t matter—buy one of the beefier versions on this list and you can ditch the mid-weight trucker entirely.
But the real appeal of the shawl collar cardigan is its ability to reach across the aisle, dressing down an OCBD and wooly paisley tie when the occasion calls for a business casual get-up that just won’t quit, or lending you a few extra “wow, that dude looks fantastic” points when you toss one on over a T-shirt and yesterday’s sweats to hit the bodega. There are, of course, the tried-and-true versions that look like they just leaped off the set of The Cincinnati Kid. But there’s also an abundance of options if you’re jonesing to really freak it, ones with zippers and Western design motifs for extra graphic intrigue. And the best of them all right here, in this handy-dandy list of our favorite men’s shawl collar cardigans on the market right now.
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