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The Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99) in Pelican.

Patagonia


Whether it’s a symptom of living a semi-nomadic lifestyle or a desire to buy fewer (and better) things, I tend to rely upon a rotation of quality basics most days. And one of the best basics I’ve invested in is the Patagonia Women’s Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99)

If you’re unfamiliar with America’s (quarter-zip) sweetheart, it’s a good case study in form, function, and feel-good shopping. It’s also a part of Patagonia’s popular Better Sweater collection and a staple for many people I know. 

The Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece is a hip-length, knit pullover made from 100% recycled polyester fleece. The simple silhouette is sleek, but not restrictive, and has one small pocket on the sleeve. 

While slim-fitting, it’s still roomy enough to be practical for camping, road trips, and transatlantic flights. Thanks to princess seams at the back, it has a tailored look that doesn’t feel out of place for weekend errands or low-key outings, too.

I find that it’s compact enough for a carry-on bag, and it has a good warmth-to-weight ratio for cool days — as well as a wind flap under the quarter-length zipper. Even though I’ve worn it around my apartment far more often than on hikes, it was one of the first things I packed for a long weekend in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota this past June. 

Like most of Patagonia’s core offerings, the Better Sweater is also relatively guilt-free as far as buying new clothing goes. Aside from the 100% recycled polyester material, it’s Fair Trade Certified sewn, and dyed with a low-impact process that reduces the use of dyestuffs, energy, and water required to make it. You can find out more about this process on Patagonia’s website

The Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99) comes in 13 colors and sizes XXS-XXL. The classic colors rarely go on sale — like most of Patagonia’s bestsellers — but some color options are available for as low as $49.50.

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The women’s Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece ($99) has princess seams in the back for a flattering, tailored look.

Patagonia


In terms of sizing, the slim fit means my standard small was surprisingly close-fitting, though not unpleasantly tight. If you prefer a looser fit or need room to add layers underneath, you may want to consider sizing up — or opt for the men’s version of the Better Sweater 1/4-Zip ($99), which doesn’t have the princess seams and includes a pocket on the chest.

Patagonia also has a famously generous returns, repairs, and exchanges policy in case you need a different size or don’t love it as much as you’d need to for the $100 investment. You can find the fine print here for returns, but the gist is this: If it doesn’t live up to your expectations, the company wants to make it right. 

The bottom line

Overall, the Better Sweater 1/4-Zip Fleece is one of the most comfortable, versatile, and frequently worn items in my rotation of much-loved basics. If you’re looking for something cozy enough for a weekend morning or chilly hike, but also flattering and nice enough to wear around town, I recommend checking it out.

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