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Pullover vs. Sweater: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 8, 2023
A pullover is a type of sweater that is put on by pulling it over the head, whereas a sweater is a generic term for a knitted garment for the upper body.

Key Differences

The distinction between a pullover and a sweater lies in the way they are worn and sometimes in their design. A pullover, as the name suggests, refers to a knitted upper garment that is worn by pulling it over the head. Conversely, a sweater is a knitted garment designed to keep the upper body warm and can have varying styles, including pullovers, cardigans, and more.
Pullovers can be considered a subset within the larger category of sweaters. They lack an opening in the front, distinguishing them from other types of sweaters like cardigans, which feature buttons, zippers, or hooks. Sweaters can have various neck designs such as crew neck, v-neck, or turtleneck, accommodating various style preferences and weather needs.
In the context of climate and wear, pullovers often provide a cozy, casual aesthetic and might be chosen for their ease of wear. Sweaters, with their varied styles and designs, cater to a range of occasions, from formal to casual, by offering an assortment of wear options, such as zipped, buttoned, belted, or open styles.
Design-wise, pullovers often feature a range of patterns, textures, and materials but are uniformly designed to be worn without opening or closing fastenings. Sweaters, meanwhile, cater to a variety of design needs, with options ranging from simple, unadorned styles to those embellished with buttons, zippers, or belts, expanding the style, functional, and thermal possibilities.
Lastly, pullovers generally present fewer stylistic choices since they lack front fastenings, adhering primarily to differences in material, color, and pattern. Sweaters embrace a wider range of style choices due to the inclusion of various garment fastenings, necklines, and fits, allowing wearers to incorporate them into numerous outfit combinations and styles.

Comparison Chart


A sweater pulled over the head
A knitted garment for the upper body


No front opening
May or may not have a front opening


Primarily varies in material & pattern
Varies in material, pattern, & opening style


Pulled over the head
Worn in various ways depending on design


Casual, usually no fastenings
Can be casual or formal, may have fastenings

Pullover and Sweater Definitions


A pullover often lacks buttons, zippers, or hooks.
The simplicity of a pullover makes it versatile.


Sweaters can be designed with buttons, zippers, or left open.
My zipper sweater allows for adjustable warmth.


A pullover is a sweater that is put on over the head.
I prefer a pullover because it's easy to wear.


A sweater is a knitted garment worn on the upper body.
I wore a sweater to stay warm in the chilly weather.


Pullovers often have varied neck styles, like crew or v-neck.
I chose a v-neck pullover for a slightly formal look.


Sweaters come in a range of styles, including cardigans and pullovers.
I own sweaters in several styles to suit different occasions.


Pullovers can be made of wool, cotton, or synthetic fibers.
My cotton pullover is perfect for cool summer nights.


Sweaters may feature a multitude of patterns, colors, and neck designs.
I chose a solid-colored crew neck sweater for a classic look.


Pullovers can feature various patterns and colors.
The festive patterns on my pullover are great for holiday gatherings.


A garment for the upper body of wool, cotton, or synthetic yarn, typically knitted, having long sleeves, and worn in cold weather.


A garment, such as a sweater, designed to be put on or taken off over the head. Also called slipover.


One that sweats, especially profusely.


A sweater that must be put on by pulling it over the head; a sweater without buttons or a zipper in front


Something that induces sweating; a sudorific.


(weightlifting) An exercise performed lying on the back in which the arms are extended behind the head and exertion lifts the weight above the head.


A knitted jacket or jersey, usually of thick wool, worn by athletes before or after exercise.


An exercise in which the gymnast pulls up from a hang lifting the legs up and over the bar thus rolling into a support position.


(US) A similar garment worn for warmth.


An instance of a vehicle being pulled over.


One who sweats (produces sweat).


A sweater that is put on by pulling it over the head


One who or that which causes to sweat.


A diaphoretic remedy.


(historical) An exploitative middleman who subcontracted piece work in the tailoring trade.


(archaic) One who sweats coins, i.e. removes small portions by shaking them.


A London street ruffian in Queen Anne's time who prodded weak passengers with his sword-point.


(transitive) To dress in a sweater.


One who sweats.


One who, or that which, causes to sweat


A crocheted or knitted garment covering the upper part of the body


A person who perspires


Sweaters are made from various materials, like wool, cotton, or synthetic blends.
My wool sweater is incredibly warm and cozy.


Is a cardigan a type of sweater?

Yes, a cardigan, with its open front, is a type of sweater.

What denotes the quality of a sweater?

The quality of a sweater can be determined by material, knitting technique, and overall craftsmanship.

What is a common neckline for a pullover?

Common necklines for pullovers include crew necks and v-necks.

Do pullovers always have long sleeves?

No, pullovers can have various sleeve lengths including short, long, or none.

Are sweaters only for winter wear?

No, sweaters can be made from lighter materials like cotton, making them suitable for other seasons.

Are pullovers usually more casual than other sweaters?

Generally yes, pullovers often have a more casual appearance.

Can sweaters have zippers or buttons?

Yes, sweaters can have zippers, buttons, or other fastenings, unlike pullovers.

Is a pullover considered a sweater?

Yes, a pullover is a type of sweater.

Can all sweaters be referred to as pullovers?

No, only sweaters without front openings are pullovers.

Can a sweater be worn in a formal setting?

Yes, certain sweaters like finely knitted cardigans or vests can be formal.

What is the defining characteristic of a pullover?

A pullover is defined by being put on by pulling it over the head without unfastening.

Are pullovers typically made from wool only?

No, pullovers can be made from various materials including cotton, synthetic fibers, and more.

Is a hoodie a type of pullover?

Typically yes, a hoodie is a type of pullover if it lacks a front opening.

Can sweaters accommodate various styles and occasions?

Yes, the vast variety of sweater styles can cater to numerous occasions and preferences.

Can a sweater be sleeveless?

Yes, some sweaters, often referred to as sweater vests, are sleeveless.

How do you generally care for pullovers?

Care for pullovers depends on material but often involves gentle washing and flat drying.

Can a sweater be made from synthetic materials?

Yes, sweaters can be made from synthetic materials like acrylic and polyester.

Can pullovers feature additional elements like pockets?

Yes, pullovers can have various design elements, including pockets, hoods, or additional embellishments.

Is it common for pullovers to have patterns or prints?

Yes, pullovers often feature various patterns, prints, or solid colors.

Can sweaters be hand-knitted and machine-knitted?

Yes, sweaters can be produced both by hand-knitting and machine-knitting methods.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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