The Best Crewneck Sweatshirts for Men Deserve Their Wardrobe Essential Status Best Stuff is GQ's destination for finding the perfect version of whatever you need, like the best gray crewneck sweatshirt you can wear with everything. You can thank us later.
The phrase "wardrobe essential" is almost as overused as "streetwear" right now in the menswear universe, but there's still one style that deserves the label: gray crewneck sweatshirts. They're basic in the best way: cozy as a camp fire on the beach, never not wearable, and an integral part of menswear history. The humble gray crew neck sweatshirt helped Steve McQueen escape in The Great Escape, cemented John Travolta’s heartthrob status in Grease, and made Eddie Murphy a badass in Beverly Hills Cop. Paul Newman, the patron saint of laidback menswear, wore one. Today, a roster of famous stylish dudes trust in the gray crewneck sweatshirt (see: Ryans Gosling and Reynolds, Justin Theroux, Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Michael B. Jordan). The allure is equal parts form and function, rugged vibes housed in a fitted cotton knit (like a perfect baguette, hard on the outside and soft as a cloud within). Right now, the market is flooded with spins on the athletic-inspired classic and at every price but none gets every detail right better than the one Todd Snyder designed as part of his ongoing collaboration with Champion.
1. It comes from the guy who knows how to make real clothes for real guys: Before he worked with Champion, Snyder established himself as a menswear savant at Old Navy, J.Crew, and later, his namesake brand. Chief among the designer's talents is that he knows how garments should fit—and fit well—on actual humans, not stick-thin male models named Markus. This sweatshirt hugs in the right places (biceps, back) and is relaxed where you want it to be (neck, belly). Of course no one will notice any of that when you have it on—they'll just notice you look good wearing it.
2. Every last detail has been thought through: Snyder isn't the type to phone it in if he's designing the best version of an iconic piece of menswear. Every detail on this crewneck, from the wider cuffs to the thicker waistband hem to the chest pocket to the "V" stitch under the collar to the raglan sleeve (the kind that's attached on an angle to the neck rather than the shoulder) is culled from the kinds of standard-issue sweats guys wore in gymnasiums and on the weekend 50-plus years ago, just reimagined the right way for today's tastes.
3. It's cozy AF: A great gray crewneck sweatshirt should fit well. It should be sporty. It should be stylish. But it must be cozy. Luckily Todd Snyder's sweatshirt is very much so. Like most of our favorite sweatshirts, it's crafted from a cotton-and-polyester blend (in this case 80/20) that provides the right mix of structure and softness (as nice to the touch on the outside as it spongy on the inside).
4. You can get away with it at the office: We're not advising you pull on this crewneck sweatshirt and head to a black-tie wedding, but one of the reasons we're such big fans of the item is that you can dress it up and even get away with one at the office come casual Friday. Thanks to the aforementioned fit, plus some subtle contrast stitching, and the fact that this shade of gray looks damn good with everything from a white oxford and a plaid button-up, this sweatshirt feels richer than the rest, which means it will look like it belongs sitting under your go-to tweed blazer.
If you have a little less to spend on a ruggedly cool new crewneck sweatshirt, Uniqlo's got you covered—literally. The Japanese-based retailer's sweatshirt doesn't have all the bells and whistles (no contrast stitching, standard menswear proportions) or silhouette (or pocket) that our top pick comes with, but it's still a solid choice—especially if you want to save a few dollars buying one. Not only is it extremely affordable, but it holds up to repeated washes like a pro. The 100% cotton body is very breathable, which is nice whether you're working out or just working through a season of BoJack Horseman on the couch. Plus, at this price, you won't just be able to afford to get sweaty with it, you'll be able to afford to buy one in every color.
If you're a stylish guy in the Demna & Kanye tribe then you know that a looser, baggier fit is where it’s at in 2017. But there’s a big difference between the oversized trend and a sweatshirt that's too damn big. Fear of God’s sweatshirt features drop shoulders and a longer body for that just-right slouchy silhouette that looks dope instead of undone. Jerry Lorenzo's stock in trade is turning sportier, off-duty-ier menswear pieces into luxury garments and this is up there with the best of them. It's cut from a smoother fabric mix (cotton/polyester/rayon mix) than our top pick (this thing feels expensive) and it's made in America. If you've got the cash and the desire to get street style photographed next fashion week, then this is the sweatshirt for you.