Sweatshirt vs. Sweater: The Differences

Last Updated on December 20, 2023

Sweaters, crafted from knitted materials like wool or polyester, offer warmth and style with intricate patterns, while sweatshirts, made from a single piece of fabric, prioritize comfort, absorb sweat efficiently, and feature a seamless construction for casual wear.

In fashion, the terms “sweater” and “sweatshirt” are often used interchangeably, confusing both customers and retail professionals alike.

As someone working in retail, I understand the challenges of helping customers find the right garment when they might need to learn the proper names.

Sweatshirt vs. Sweater


  • Warm and Knitted or Soft and Seamless: Sweaters are warm, knitted, and often have visible holes, while sweatshirts are soft, seamless, and lack visible holes.
  • Crafted Patterns vs. Solid Comfort: Sweaters showcase crafted knit patterns, while sweatshirts offer simple, solid comfort with a soft interior.
  • Woven vs. Sewn Together: Sweaters are woven together, creating a unique look, whereas sweatshirts are made by sewing solid pieces for durability.
  • Knitted or Printed Designs: Sweaters feature knitted designs, while sweatshirts may have printed ones, providing different style options.
  • Material Matters: Sweaters often use wool or polyester, while sweatshirts favor cotton or blends. Knowing the material helps choose based on comfort and style preferences.

Sweatshirt Vs. Sweater – What is a Difference Between Sweater and Sweatshirt?

Sweatshirt Vs. Sweater
Sweatshirt Vs. Sweater

Sweaters are knitted, warm, and stylish, often with visible patterns, while sweatshirts are comfy, made from one piece of fabric, and great for casual wear, absorbing sweat easily. 

Here, we’ll look at the differences between sweaters and sweatshirts, shedding light on their distinct characteristics and why these distinctions matter.

1. Construction

Sweaters are intricately knit, with pieces woven together, while sweatshirts are seamlessly constructed from a single, solid piece of material.


  • Constructed through knitting, resulting in a fabric that unravels when cut.
  • Visible holes in the knit, offering a unique aesthetic.
  • Weaving technique used to connect pieces at seams, not sewn or serged together.
  • Often made from wool or polyester, influencing texture and qualities.
  • Intricate knit patterns, with designs incorporated directly into the garment.


  • Crafted from a single, solid piece of material (usually fabric), preventing unraveling when cut.
  • No visible holes in the fabric, providing a seamless appearance.
  • Seamlessly constructed by sewing together solid pieces of material.
  • Commonly made from cotton, polyester, or a blend, impacting texture and feel.
  • Focus on comfort, with a soft, often fleecy interior.

2. Material and Texture

Sweaters often feature wool or polyester for varied textures, while sweatshirts, commonly made of cotton or polyester blends, prioritize softness, especially on the inside.


  • Commonly made from wool or polyester.
  • Texture varies based on the type of knit and materials used.
  • Tends to be less soft on the inside compared to sweatshirts.
  • Not designed to absorb sweat, prioritizing warmth and style.


  • Frequently made from cotton, polyester, or a blend of the two.
  • Generally softer, especially on the interior, often featuring a fleecy material.
  • Designed to absorb sweat, suitable for casual wear and physical activities.

3. Purpose and Design

Sweaters focus on warmth and classic style, with limited transparency, whereas sweatshirts emphasize comfort, versatility, and practicality, often accommodating printed designs.


  • Primarily designed for warmth and style.
  • Weaving technique makes it less suitable for printed designs.
  • Limited transparency, with varying levels of knit tightness.
  • Focus on traditional and classic styles.


  • Emphasis on comfort, versatility, and practicality.
  • Suitable for printed designs, often featuring logos or patterns.
  • Generally opaque, with a smooth and even appearance.
  • Adapted for casual wear and athletic activities.

4. Durability and Care

Durability and Care
Durability and Care

Sweaters may require careful handling due to their knitted construction, while sweatshirts with solid and seamless designs tend to be more resilient and easier to care for, often machine washable.


  • Knitted construction may be more prone to snagging or damage.
  • Careful handling required to maintain the integrity of the knit.
  • Washing instructions often include gentle cycles and air drying.


  • Solid construction and seamless design contribute to durability.
  • Generally more resilient to wear and tear.
  • Easier to care for, often machine washable.


In the ongoing confusion between sweaters and sweatshirts, understanding their differences becomes crucial for both shoppers and retail professionals.

ConstructionKnitted, unravels when cutSolid piece, does not unravel
Visible HolesYesNo
Seam TypeWovenSewn together
MaterialsWool, polyesterCotton, polyester, or blends
TextureVariable based on knit and materialSofter, often with a fleecy interior
AbsorptionLimited sweat absorptionDesigned to absorb sweat
Design IncorporationKnitted patterns, not printedSuitable for printed logos or designs
PurposeWarmth and styleComfort, versatility, and practicality
DurabilityProne to snagging or damageMore resilient, suitable for wear and tear
Care InstructionsGentle cycles, air dryingOften machine washable

Sweaters, with their intricate knit patterns and warmth-focused design, cater to a different audience than sweatshirts, which prioritize comfort and versatility.

Knowing these distinctions ensures that you get the cozy knitwear you desire when you ask for a sweater. When you seek a sweatshirt, you end up with a comfortable, all-encompassing garment perfect for various occasions. 

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