The term "sweater" is a catch-all for a variety of knit garments. Although the term often refers to a pullover, it can also refer to a cardigan, a garment that opens and fastens down the front. Within either group, there is a great variety of design. Various necklines are found, although the V-neck, turtleneck and the crew neck are the most popular. The waistline is typically at hip height or slightly longer, just overlapping the waist of one's pants or skirt, but can vary significantly. It can range from just below the bust in women's garments to mid-thigh in either sex, or even longer in a knitted variation of the poncho shirtdress. The sleeve length is also variable, ranging from full-length or three-quarters to short-sleeved, cap sleeves or sleeveless. The front seam or opening of a cardigan allows for further different styles, such as a surplice or a bolero jacket. All hems may have various types of borders, such as picots, ribbing and frills.
Knitted fabrics are generally somewhat elastic and have a softer hand (feel or drape) than woven fabric, sweaters that are more tightly fitted or have a soft drape may conform well to the body without requiring tailoring necessary in a woven garment such as darts, flares and gores. Even when such shaping is used, it can be knit into the fabric itself, without requiring seams.