Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Hoodies Versus Sweatshirt: Style Differences Explained

The sweatshirt and sweatpants combo that so many of us cherish as our weekend loungewear wardrobe has really become a mainstay of every day.  That’s great news as offices get more casual, working from home becomes an option, and because, hey, why not be comfortable all the time?! The best news is there are plenty of options out there from classic to contemporary styles and extending from budget to luxury price points.

Here’s our guide to helping sort out the hoodies vs. sweatshirts debate, and everything else you need to know to understand the subtle differences between all sweatshirt styles. We’ve also picked out a few that we think are great finds to update your wardrobe this season. 

Sweatshirt Fabric Guidance

Three young men in hoodies sitting on wall.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The first thing to understand about what sets sweatshirts apart is fabric. Typically sweatshirts are made of comfortable cotton, often with a bit of polyester or stretch fiber added for durability and comfort. Designer Norma Kamali elevated the fabric to runway status in the 1980s, and continues to include pieces in her regular collection. Of all sweatshirt companies, Champion probably has the most recognized fabric with it’s trademarked “Reverse Weave.” It’s a little confusing because if you understand fabric structure, a sweatshirt is actually made of a knit fabric (more like a sweater than a dress shirt). All you really need to know is that, because of the process that Champion patented back in the late 1930s, the brand’s sweatshirts are extra tough and resist shrinkage.

The next classic sweatshirt fabric is a soft cotton knit done in a luxuriously thick fabric with a fleece-like interior. Beyond that, more lightweight versions are more like t-shirts and geared toward late spring days or are used for layering. Other modern sweatshirt fabrics now include everything from performance features like moisture-wicking technology to winter’s best friend Polartec fleece, and luxury fabrics and fibers like French Terry or even cashmere. 

The Classic Sweatshirt Silhouette: Russell Athletic Crewneck

Russell Athletic offers the epitome of a classic sweatshirt.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The classic weathered gray crewneck sweatshirt is kind of a wardrobe requirement. Buy one and wear it forever. The inset V-shaped panel just below the collar is a required detail: It was originally added in ribbed fabric to add some stretch, so it would be easier to pull on. These days, spandex takes care of that, but it’s an authentic throwback detail. Russell’s Dri Power is your workout’s best friend, pulling moisture away to keep you warm and dry; but we think you’ll appreciate this sweatshirt’s simplicity to wear every day. 

Read More: Best Crewneck Sweatshirts for Men

The Classic Hoodie Silhouette: Champion Reverse Weave

Champion's Reverse Weave set the standard for hoodies.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Of course, the main difference between a sweatshirt and a hoodie is the addition of, well, a hood. At Champion, this classic hoodie shape, in its classic Reverse Weave fabric, is updated with a classic font. Or two. The Champion silhouette features heritage details like a double-layer hood to keep you extra warm, a kangaroo pocket, durable double-needle construction, and, another Champion signature, stretch side panels for extra movement. 

Read More: The Best Hoodies for Men

The Luxury Option: Ron Dorff Zipped Cashmere Hoodie

Ron Dorff presents the luxury of cashmere in a comfy hoodie.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

As if lounging in sweats weren’t luxurious enough, why not lounge in cashmere? Ron Dorff combines the elegance of cashmere with the clean, casual styling of a zipped, hooded sweatshirt for a top that is hedonism embodied. It’s soft enough you’ll want to wear it right next to your skin, but this hoodie also makes an elegant layer worn over a dress shirt or layered with a sports coat.

Read More: Best Cashmere Hoodies for Men

The Neighboring Hood: Alo Highline Hoodie

Alo Yoga's hoodie is a more ergonomic model.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

A classic hoodie usually uses pretty simple construction with a simple seam up the back. More contemporary versions include an additional center panel, making the hood more ergonomic and more likely to stay put on the top of your head. Alo offers other modern updates to the form with a cowled neckline, a more secure zippered front pocket, and a flat ribbon drawstring. It’s also executed in a luscious soft French Terry that’s so comfortable you’ll practically want to sleep in it.  

The Classic Zip-front Hoodie: Hanes Eco-Smart

Hanes offers the convenience of a full zipper hoodie at a great price.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Another absolute classic, and perhaps the ultimate look for casual layering with a no-slacker-denied appeal. The full-zip hoodie is a lot easier to get on than a pull-over version, yet offers all the comfort, warmth, and movement you’ll need for your workout warm-up or a day on the couch. Wear it like a cardigan with a dressier shirt and trousers for a clean, sporty look. It’s also got punk appeal layered with jeans, a graphic t-shirt, and denim. We particularly like this one from Hanes because it’s 50% cotton and 50% polyester made from recycled plastic bottles. 

The Fashionable Sweatshirt: Goodlife Funnel Neck

This fashionable hoodie from Goodlife features soft, sueded jersey and a unique funnel neck.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

This is just one of many, many alternatives that you’ll see in the sweatshirt space, taking the concept of fleecy comfort and “making it fashion.” This soft, scrunchy, funnel neck lends itself perfectly to the medium, and Goodlife makes a practice out of creating sumptuous casual cotton clothing. 

The Warmer Weather Sweatshirt: Todd Snyder + Champion Sweatshirt 

This Todd Snyder + Champion pullover strides the line between sweatshirt and T-shirt.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The collaboration between Todd Snyder and Champion has resulted in some of the most exciting pieces to hit the sweats category in decades. The designer’s flair for creating a completely modern silhouette with an undeniably vintage look is legendary, and he doesn’t disappoint here with this piece where sweatshirt meets short-sleeve t-shirt. The marled gray French Terry is soft and comfortable, and the top-stitching detail makes it look authentic and tough. 

The “I’m (Almost) Too Sexy For My (Sweat) Shirt:” Victorious Sleeveless Hoodie

This sleeveless hoodie from Victorious shows off a lotta muscle.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

If you’ve got the guns, we’ve got the sweatshirt. A sleeveless hoodie is a perfect option for days when a t-shirt or a tank top might be a little too cool, but when you’re still feeling the need to show off all that work you’ve been doing in the gym. It’s also a great piece to layer over a t-shirt, or under a jacket when those huge arms won’t let you pack in another long sleeve. We particularly like this one for its letterman jacket stripes on the bottom ribbing, contrast zipper detail, and Victorious’ wide selection of colors.  

Editors' Recommendations

John Jones
John Jones is a Jersey City, New Jersey-based writer who enjoys covering design in all its forms, from fashion to…
Apple Watch Series 9 vs Apple Watch Series 8: Should you upgrade?
The Newest Apple Watch Comes with Siri Built In
Apple Watch S9 with Nike bands

Apple has debuted its next generation of smart watch, promising more power, increased functionality, and an all round upgrade on previous generations. But if you dropped around $400 on an Apple Watch less than a year ago, is it really worth opening your wallet again?

There are several arguments against buying new tech every time it comes out. There may not be that big a performance leap between one or two generations of a device, or in the case of an iPhone changes may actually be minimal from year to year. Then there’s cost to consider. A device like a smartwatch is a significant purchase, so why buy another if you really don’t have to?

Read more
Overland is the king of ski towns: Celebrating 50 years of American mountain west outerwear
How did Overland win over the mountain town
Taos Storefront 2023

Every industry has its mainstay brands that only get stronger with more competition. There will always be some new and fresh idea that challenges all those before it and tries to change the industry. Then there are those brands they face, who have been around for decades, weaving in and out of competition and outlasting every challenge thrown their way. For every new and exciting watch brand, there is a Rolex standing strong. While there are plenty of explanations for why a brand outshines every other around it, Overland Sheepskin Co. has an explanation all its own. On this, their 50th year, we look back and try to understand how this family-owned business became the King of the Mountain towns and what keeps them on top.

Back in 1973, the flagship store in Taos, New Mexico, took a bale of sheepskin and a sewing machine and began creating coats, hats, and mittens for the surrounding area. As word began to spread about their quality, the whole family had to pitch in to help out to meet the growing demand. Five decades later, with 17 stores throughout the Rocky Mountains and across the country, they have become a mainstay in the mountain and ski towns for their quality and dependability. We got a chance to sit down with Monty Goodson, manager of the Santa Fe store and a buyer for the company, to find out how they did it and how they maintain the culture that has made them who they are today.

Read more
Bell & Ross BR-03, its flagship watch, updated for first time in almost 2 decades
A classic design gets a much-deserved update
BR 03 Military Ceramic watch Bell & Ross

In the realm of luxury watches, Bell & Ross holds a unique place. The brand is renowned for its meticulous craftsmanship and innovative designs, which have consistently pushed the boundaries of watchmaking. One of their most iconic watches, the Bell & Ross BR-03, recently underwent a significant update, marking a milestone in its nearly two-decade history.

Founded in 1992 by Bruno Belamich and Carlos A. Rosillo, Bell & Ross quickly gained recognition for its dedication to producing professional timepieces tailored to specific needs. Their watches are often inspired by aviation and military aesthetics, characterized by a perfect blend of form and function. Over the years, the Bell & Ross BR-03 has become a symbol of precision and reliability, earning its place among the finest luxury watches.
The timeless design of the BR 03
The Bell & Ross BR 03 has always been celebrated for its distinctive square case design, paying homage to cockpit instruments. Its robust and bold appearance sets it apart from traditional round watches, and the BR 03 has been a favorite among those who appreciate a timepiece that makes a statement. The signature square case, clear numerals, and luminescent hands make it not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly legible.

Read more