The Ultimate Guide To Men’s Hoodies
One of the most significant garments of the last 100 years, and something no man’s wardrobe should be without.
When it comes to casual comfort, a hoodie is the gold standard. Relaxed and easy to wear, this athletic piece transitioned from track and field into the modern man’s everyday rotation. It’s the definition of a contemporary classic; one of the most significant garments of the last 100 years, and something no man’s wardrobe should be without.
An under sung pillar of menswear, the hoodie is so much more than just a hooded sweater. It’s a layering tool for cold weather, a quick and easy way to dress down certain outfits, something to wrap yourself up in for lazy afternoons on the sofa, and a trusty companion for workouts and weekends.
So, where did it all start? And how did the hoodie go from public enemy number one just a couple of decades ago to earning its indisputable ‘essential’ status? Below we’ll address these questions and more as we delve into the details of menswear’s most humble wardrobe hero.
The hoodie is a modern must have
Are you going to drop dead if you don’t have a hoodie hanging up in your wardrobe? Obviously not. However, not to own one would be a serious sartorial oversight for any style-minded man.
It may not look like much, but a hoodie is a highly versatile multipurpose garment that can be called on in all sorts of situations. It’s something that can be thrown on without a great deal of thought, and goes with almost anything. Quite at home with shorts, sneakers and weekend casualwear, but style it with care, and it can even mingle with soft tailoring.
For this reason, it’s fair to rank the hoodie alongside garments like an Oxford shirt, a good pair of jeans or a knitted crew neck sweater in terms of importance. It’s what you might call a staple piece, which means arming yourself with a decent one is highly advisable.
What to know before you buy a hoodie
Thinking of adding a hoodie to your rotation, or just looking for a new one? Before you dive in, there are a few key things to consider in order to make sure you get the one that’s best for you. From fit to fabric, here’s what you need to think about.
How a hoodie should fit
Whatever the garment, fit is the single most important thing to nail. Even the fanciest, most expensive pieces will look bad if they’re hanging off you or too tight, so try to get this right above all else.
As for how a hoodie should fit, there are two ways to go: classic or oversized. An oversized fit is deliberately slouchy, which makes it great as a cosy, casual top layer. The downside is that it can look a little too sloppy for some, and the added bulk makes it tricky to layer on top of.
For a classic fit, ensure the shoulder seams sit at the point where the arms join the body, the hem falls a couple of inches below the hips and the body is trim without being tight. This will make it nice and easy to layer on top of.
Choice of colour
Hoodies are available in every conceivable colour, so it really is a matter of personal preference. That said, some shades are much more versatile than others and choosing one of these will ensure you get the most wear out of your garment.
Classic colours for hoodies are mostly grey, navy and black. Opting for one of these means there’ll be little in your capsule wardrobe that won’t work with it, giving you the best bang for your buck. Alternatively, choose a subtle neutral or earthy shade, or go all-out with a statement colour, ensuring the rest of your outfit is nice and muted.
Branding or plain?
Historically, hoodies are sporting garments. Since the very beginning, they bore team names, crests, insignias and slogans. Streetwear brands expanded on this late in the 20th century, experimenting with graphic prints and designs, and today branding is more prevalent than ever, with many labels, particularly in high fashion, choosing to adorn theirs with oversized logos.
Again, it boils down to a personal choice, but a hoodie without a logo will always be easier to style and more versatile than one that has a huge brand name stamped across the chest.
Jersey is the primary fabric from which hoodies tend to be made. It’s soft, comfortable, stretchy, and brushed on the back for comfort and insulation. It comes in different weights, from lightweight to extremely thick and heavy. Generally, around 12oz would be classed as a heavyweight hoodie – great for the winter, but somewhere around 8oz will be better for layering and see more use in the warmer months.
It’s also a good idea to go for a pre-shrunk fabric. This means that there’ll be less chance of any nasty surprises when you pull it out of the wash for the first time, as jersey is prone to shrinkage.
The best men’s hoodie brands for 2024
It’s difficult to think of a modern menswear brand that doesn’t produce a hoodie, but there are a select few that do it better than the rest. These are the brands that either make hoodies a key part of their offering, have been doing them the longest, make some of the coolest options, or some combination of the three.
From the heritage of Champion to the iconic box logos of Supreme, these are the best men’s hoodie brands out there right now.
British brand Sunspel makes upscale basics and essentials designed to lay a solid foundation for great style. The materials used are high quality and the construction is premium. There’s also a firm focus on fit – garments are designed to be sharp, trim and flattering, with an emphasis on classic style and versatility.
Its hoodies use a cotton loopback fabric, which is less prone to shrinking than regular jersey and great at wicking moisture away from the skin. They’re also available as either a pullover or a zip-through.
Champion claims to be the first brand to have introduced hooded sweatshirts to the market, and it’s still one of the key names in the hoodie game today. It’s a solid mid-range option, known for its patented ‘Reverse Weave’ construction that’s designed to eliminate shrinkage.
The hoodies mostly come in simple, block colours with subtle branding, but there are plenty of bolder options too, with large logos and prints if that’s what you’re into.
Reigning Champ draws inspiration from traditional athletic garb, filtered through a streetwear lens. The Canadian brand does use modern technical fabrics in some of its garments, but classic heavyweight jersey cotton has always been at the core of its collections.
As far as hoodies go, the colour palette is simple, the branding is minimal and the fabric comes in a variety of weights, ranging from lightweight terry cotton to thick, heavyweight fleece.
Carhartt WIP (short for Work In Progress) is the style-minded sub-brand of USA-based heritage workwear label Carhartt. It takes the label’s trademark durability and functionality and applies them to modern silhouettes while reimagining traditional blue-collar garments with contemporary tweaks.
Hoodies are a key part of Carhartt WIP’s output, including the best-selling Chase design, which is made from thick jersey fabric with no visible branding other than a small ‘C’ logo to the sleeve.
Wardrobe essentials, plentiful colour options and organic fabrics are what it’s all about at Colourful Standard. Hoodies (and everything else for that matter) are handmade in Portugal and there’s a focus on sustainability with things like environmentally-friendly dyes, recycled packaging and a zero-waste policy.
The brand only deals in simple block colours, and the collection is permanent so you’re able to replenish your favourite hoodie when you’ve worn it through.
The biggest name in sportswear, Nike is always a solid option when it comes to hoodies. The range includes everything from performance garments in technical fabrics, designed for training and athletics, to simple jersey options for casual wear and lounging around.
Californian brand Stussy is widely credited with having invented the concept of streetwear. It did this by slapping graphic prints on T-shirts and hoodies in the early 80s, and although the product range has evolved a lot since then, these simple pieces are still a key part of the label’s output.
Look out for hoodies featuring the iconic Stussy script logo for some cotemporary style kudos.
The marketing machine that is Supreme is famous for having fans queue up for hours to get their hands on clothes, off-beat accessories and even a brick bearing the NYC skate label’s famous box logo.
The box logo hoodies are a streetwear grail and sell out instantly, so you’ll have to pay resale prices if you want to get your hands on one, but there are plenty of arguably better styles that tend to sit on the shelves and can be picked up for retail.
It’s hard to beat Uniqlo when it comes to good-looking, well-fitting basics at competitive prices. The Japanese retailer is known for its wardrobe essentials like selvedge jeans, Oxford shirts and pima-cotton T-shirts, all of which come with surprisingly low price tags.
It also makes some rather nice hoodies, from simple everyday options in classic cuts, to fashion-forward oversized versions as part of the Uniqlo U range.
Italian luxury label Stone Island is famous for its stunning outerwear, which incorporates innovative dyeing techniques and experimental fabrics. But behind the big-ticket pieces lies a foundation of everyday staples, like denim, knitwear and, of course, hoodies.
Expect thick jersey fabric, garment dyeing and iconic compass-patch branding as standard.
Casual luxury might sound like an oxymoron, but it’s a concept that James Perse has built an entire brand around. The American label crafts simple staple pieces that blend a laid-back feel with an unmistakable touch of indulgence, making it the perfect place to pick up a quality hoodie you’ll want to wear every day.
A Short History Of The Hoodie
The hoodie’s origin can be traced back to the early 1900s, when a brand called Champion (then called Knickerbocker Knitting Company) created the very first hooded sweatshirt. In 1919, Champion’s founder, Harold Lipson, designed the hoodie to originally protect athletes and labourers from the cold. Football players and track athletes would wear them on the sidelines, and it wasn’t long until the hoodie’s comfort and practicality saw it venture off the pitch too.
By the mid 1970s, the hoodie had become the unofficial uniform of the emerging hip-hop movement. Graffiti writers in New York City would wear them to stay warm while out tagging in the dead of night, while rappers sported them alongside Adidas Superstar sneakers and tracksuits in music videos. Skateboarders and members of the hardcore-punk community also embraced the hoodie during the 80s and 90s, making it a symbol of the outsiders and an anti-establishment icon.
Unfortunately, criminals also took a shine to the hoodie. Burglars, muggers and drug dealers began wearing them to conceal their identities while engaging in illicit activities, and before long the media was whipping the public up into a frenzy, demonising the garment and those who wore it.
The emergence of athleisure marked a turning point in the hoodie’s history, bringing it back into the mainstream and making it socially acceptable as casualwear. Today, you’re just as likely to see West London yoga mums in hoodies as you are teenage skateboarders, and the social stigma around the garment has all but disappeared.