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Cable Knit Sweaters – Let’s Pull Out The Heavy Artillery

Nobody likes cold weather but what if you’re stuck in a region where you’re constantly fighting low temperatures?

Meet the cable knit sweater – a classic whose only purpose is to keep you warm… and stylish.


Where is the “cable knit” coming from? If you look closer at its texture, you’ll notice thick vertical “ropes” traversing it. This unique pattern is probably the “deepest” you’ll ever meet in an item of clothing.

I’m not going to bore you too much with this. It suffices to say this was considered a fisherman’s sweater and it did a good job at keeping men warm and dry out in the sea. The most well-know cable-knitted sweater is the Aran sweater. Some say it originates from the Aran island in Ireland, where it was traditionally worn by fishermen.

While most sweaters were knitted by hand in the past, this isn’t the case anymore. The vast majority are machine-sewed so, if you’re looking for a sweater made in the traditional way… you’ll have some searching to do.


The stitches have a wide variety and, if you take the time to browse the stores for these sweaters, you won’t see any two that are alike.

Let’s see some examples. We start off with the actual cable pattern:

And here’s another common pattern. You’ll often see the diamond pattern in tandem with the cable pattern.

Here’s another interesting one, which I’m sure you’re already familiar with: fishbone:

These are just a few, you’ll see a lot more when you go shopping for cable-knit sweaters. Remember: if the pattern is tridimensional, it’s only suitable for the cold season. The rest of the patters which don’t bring that depth into an outfit are suitable on all seasons.


I’m sure you guessed this one, heavy cable knit sweaters are made of wool. This means you won’t get too hot in it because wool will allow your body to breathe and feel comfortable.


Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This will will make me itchy. Not necessarily, unless you decide to wear a traditional cable-knit sweater. Otherwise, the sweaters made by the designer houses will feel just like cotton on your skin. You should only have reasons to worry if you’re allergic to wool – that’s it.


OK, let’s see how the cable-knit sweater has made its way into men’s style.

Let’s start with this shawl-collared cable-knit sweater from J. Crew.

And how about this one, with a zipper?

Agreed, not my first choice. It looks to big on the hands and too long on the waist. Still, nice color and texture.

To make things more interesting, go for a sweater in a color such as light blue:

And here’s one with some interesting brown buttons. You’ll see these type of buttons on a lot of cardigans these days but, because they’re pretty heavy, the make a great addition to an Aran sweater.

Is this sweater too boring?

I don’t know about you but, personally, when I was little, I always thought these sweaters were kind of geeky. They always made me feel uncomfortable and itchy whenever my mom had me wear them. back then, I didn’t know how to dress.

Cable-knit sweaters seem to dull, don’t they? Let’s see how we can change that.

I saved the best for last. Here’s how applying known style principles can make a boring item of clothing look amazing.

photo: ralphlauren.com

You may not want to roll-up your sleeves like that when you’re going outside but notice the big buckle on that belt and the winter boots. Everything is in harmony.

The first option to making an Aran sweater work is to match it with chino pants. The two can either match to some degree and/or make good contrast. Just make sure they aren’t both of the exact same color and luminosity.

The second is to add a shirt underneath your sweater. This may work if the collar of the sweater allows for the shirt to be noticed.

Third, wear a great overcoat on top of it. If you have, say, a dark brown cable knit sweater, go for a camel-colored coat. You get contrast and the two colors are in the same color family. Bingo!

Fourth, get a nice belt and boots. You can, for instance, wear a belt in an interesting color to make the entire outfit look more stylish. Just make sure the sweater isn’t too big so that it hides your belt completely.

George Lavas

George is dedicated to fashion and style for men. Based in the UK, George enjoys writing about lifestyle and fashion from both sides of the pond. George created BeStylish.org to help readers create a strong sense of style with minimum effort believing that everyone can look and feel good, all day, every day.

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