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Hoodie vs. Sweatshirt: The Ultimate Style Guide

What's the difference between a hoodie and a sweatshirt? Are they not interchangeable, like clicker and remote-control, or sofa and couch? Don't they both accomplish the same goal of keeping you cozy and warm?
If these are the questions that keep you up at night---don't worry. You're not alone. There is some common confusion and misconceptions about hoodies and sweatshirts.
This guide will not only cover their similarities and differences but will also provide you with fashionable suggestions on how to style hoodies and sweatshirts. That way you can sleep at night knowing that when the brisk morning awakes you, you can put on a hoodie or sweatshirt knowing exactly what you're wearing and what to wear it with.

What's the Difference Between a Sweatshirt and a Hoodie?

There are notable differences between sweatshirts and hoodies. Before we get into their defining characteristics and what separates them into two distinguishable garments, let's address where a lot of the confusion comes from.

The Source of Confusion

The confusion comes from the use of the term "sweatshirt" as a category that includes garments such as hoodies, pullovers, half zips, and full zips.
If someone were to say, "I'm cold, do you have a sweatshirt I can borrow?" What are they asking for? Mainly, they're asking for something that will help them to not feel so cold. Whether you handed them a hoodie or a sweatshirt, they'd accept it gratefully. In this example, the sweatshirt is used as a category for long-sleeved tops made from warm heavy fabric.
However, while the term "sweatshirt" can be used to signify a category of clothing that includes warm, long sleeve tops, it can also be used to identify a specific garment within the category. Confusing, right? If you've mixed up the terminology before, no worries; it's easy to do.

Defining Characteristics of a Sweatshirt

sweatshirt is a long-sleeved, crew-neck top, usually made from a heavy fabric, without pockets or zippers. It's pulled on over the head. People wear sweatshirts for warmth, and they're also commonly worn for exercise. Sweatshirts may be part of a set with matching sweatpants or joggers.
A sweatshirt may also be referred to as a pullover. It's referred to as a jumper in England, one of many fun terms that Americans are missing out on.

Defining Characteristics of a Hoodie

Like a sweatshirt, a typical hoodie is a long-sleeved top made from heavy fabric. However, all hoodies have at least one feature that sweatshirts do not, the hood. Hoods are a practical addition to the sweatshirt that provides warmth over the head, neck, and ears. It's also nice to have if it starts raining, especially if it's made from water-resistant material.
The hood isn't the only feature that sets apart hoodies from sweatshirts. In addition, hoodies commonly feature kangaroo pockets, perfect for keeping hands warm. They might also feature zippered pockets, a zip-through design, and a drawstring through the hood.
Since its inception in the 1930s as a garment designed for utility workers, the hoodie has become a cultural icon, and a topic of debate in recent history.

What To Look for When Buying a Hoodie or Sweatshirt

Not all sweatshirts and hoodies are created equal. There are different features, fabrics, and designs to be aware of when picking out a hoodie or sweatshirt. In order to get exactly what you're looking for, you first have to know what's out there so you can decide which sweatshirt or hoodie is right for you.
The following characteristics are marks of a quality hoodie that will give you optimum comfort and performance:


It may seem obvious, but warmth is going to be one of the main factors to consider when selecting a hoodie or sweatshirt. While heavyweight sweatshirts and hoodies provide additional warmth, midweight and lightweight options are great for layering and exercise.
This full-zip hoodie is made from a midweight blend of 83% Pima cotton, 10% Polyester, and 7% Spandex. It's a perfect balance of materials that will change your idea of comfortable clothing.
This breathable hoodie made from a technical fabric blend of 69% Pima cotton, 23% TENCEL®, 8% Spandex is a fantastic example of a lightweight hoodie. It's ideal for workouts and layering under jackets.

Soft Feel

A sweatshirt that's not soft is like a flat soda. It's just not great and leaves a lot to be desired. You definitely want to seek out a hoodie or sweatshirt that's made of a soft material that is sure to be comfortable no matter how you wear it. Consider a hoodie made from a Pima cotton blend, known for its ultra-soft feel.


If you plan on moving in your hoodie or sweatshirt, you may want to choose one that will move with you. Modern performance blended materials will provide you with an unhindered range of motion so you can move freely in your warm clothing.
A sweatshirt shouldn't feel like a straight jacket, but if you've ever tried exercising in a clumsy and stiff sweatshirt you may have felt like you couldn't move. To avoid the restrictive feeling, try a sweatshirt or hoodie with the ability to stretch. Fortunately, if you shop within the athleisure style of clothing, you'll find that most hoodies and sweatshirts have some level of stretch to them.


A breathable sweatshirt or hoodie will help regulate your body temperature by providing a warm layer while at the same time allowing air to circulate. A hoodie or sweatshirt made with breathable fabric is ideal for working out or layering under an outer layer.

How To Style a Hoodie or Sweatshirt

Hoodies and sweatshirts both can be styled in a number of different ways. You can go for an athletic and sporty look, a minimalist casual look, or a street-inspired outfit.
Take note that a solid color crew neck sweatshirt can be treated similarly to a basic t-shirt; It's one of the most versatile and neutral pieces in your wardrobe. Some sweatshirts may even be incorporated into a business casual outfit.
Take a look at the style suggestions for men and women below to capture some inspiration for your next outfit that includes a hoodie or sweatshirt.

How To Style a Hoodie or Sweatshirt for Women

With Matching Joggers: A simple and perfect match for your sweatshirt or hoodie is to coordinate it with a pair of matching joggers. This combination is sporty, cozy, and versatile. Wear it with sneakers for a casual and comfortable look, or boots and a denim jacket to balance soft with rugged.
With Jeans: A sweatshirt and jeans are on the Mount Rushmore of casual outfits. You can wear this with any kind of footwear you like. Take it a step further with outerwear and accessories that compliment your shoes.
With Cozy Shorts: Another coordinated option for your favorite sweatshirt or hoodie is matching sweat shorts. Pair this Luxe Fleece Crew with these matching cozy shorts for a cute monochromatic outfit that can be worn inside and outside, for lounging and exercise alike.
With a Jacket: Sweatshirts and hoodies can be worn as a mid layer as well. Wear a sweatshirt under a duster or trench coat when the temperature drops. Let your hood pop out from under a jean jacket or blazer for a dynamic, layered look.
Cropped Hoodie and High-Waisted Joggers: Play with length in your silhouette by wearing a cropped hoodie with high-waisted joggers. The short-length hoodie and high-rise joggers will compliment each other perfectly to create a fresh and fit silhouette. This look is a perennial contender for the athleisure outfit of the year.

How To Style a Hoodie or Sweatshirt for Men

With Athletic Shorts: Athletic shorts and a sweatshirt work together to create an outfit perfect for light movement when it's a little colder out. Research shows it's important you don't skip out on a warm-up activity, and proper gear can help with that.
With Performance Joggers: Another pairing that will bring out the most athletic side of your hoodie or sweatshirt is to wear it with a pair of high-performance joggers. A lightweight, breathable hoodie and a similar pair of joggers is an athlete's favorite outfit.
With a Blazer: For a modern mix of dress and casual, layer a hoodie under a blazer. It's a stylish way to tone down a blazer into a casual outfit. Wear it with jeans and Chelsea boots and you're ready for dinner with friends.
A sweatshirt, on the other hand, can be styled up when paired with a blazer. Wear a solid, neutral sweatshirt under a dark blazer. Pair it with chinos and loafers for a sharp look that you can wear on the town or into the office.
With a Bomber Jacket: Hoodies and sweatshirts alike are perfect for wearing underneath a bomber jacket when it's extra cold out. Wear this combination with joggers and sneakers for a sleek and modern look, or get a more tactical look out of it by opting for cargo pants and combat boots. Any combination using the items mentioned will work as long as you stick to neutral colors.
With Office Clothes: You can mix sweatshirts in your business casual rotation. It can go a long way in the direction of sharp and professional with a pair of Workday Pants and oxford shoes. Or, as mentioned above, layer a sweatshirt under a blazer to instantly elevate the formality of the versatile, neutral sweatshirt.
With Matching Pants: Coordinating your hoodie or sweatshirt with pants or joggers will create a monochromatic, uniform look that can be styled in a number of different ways.
A neutral color is more reserved and can be styled with inspiration drawn from military outfits and workwear clothing that often consists of coordinated, neutral colors. This palette will create a space for a tactical bag or techwear accessories to complete your outfit tastefully.
Matching hoodies and pants that are more colorful takes inspiration from athletic warm up suits. Wear this with sneakers to play into the look, or tone it down with a neutral-toned jacket over top.

Hoodie vs. Sweatshirt: Both Are Winners

The hoodie and the sweatshirt, a marvelous duet of versatile and athletic clothing that is sure to keep you warm and in style. They can be worn as many different ways as you can think of. They're similar in what they provide but distinct in what they specialize in.
Although one of them is commonly mistaken for the other, and although they can often be substituted for one another, they're not the same thing. But they don't really compete with one another either. They're on the same team, and that team has a goal of making you the most comfortable, cozy, and stylish person you can be.
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