Live Action Getup: How to Wear 1 Affordable Sweater 4 Ways

Live Action Getup: How to Wear 1 Affordable Sweater 4 Ways
More versatile than just for dressing up.

How to wear one sweater 4 ways   men's style inspiration

If you've been a reader of Primer for any length of time, then you know how much we love a great sweater. It's the perfect layering device to add texture, depth, and visual interest to any outfit, and of course, they're really warm too.

We're especially fond of sweaters that add thickness to the neck, be it a shawl collar cardigan, moc-neck, or a rolled shawl collar like this handsome lambswool number by J.Crew Factory. It's easy to see a sweater like this sitting on a store shelf and relegate its usefulness to only more dressy events. And while it works fantastically for that, as we'll make the case for below, this type of sweater can also be worn for all levels of dress, with a tie all the way down to… sweatpants? Heck yeah.

If you're not familiar with J.Crew Factory you may assume it's where irregular items from the flagship store go to be gobbled up by outlet go-ers who don't mind buying shirts with crooked collars. But it's actually one of the best kept secrets for affordable men's style. With similar styling of its full-priced older brother and price tags equivalent to full-priced Old Navy items, J.Crew Factory is a separate line, not old stock.  And with quality similar to that of Gap, it makes purchases like affordable suits or our featured lambswool sweater a no-brainer for guys who like great style on a budget. While currently not on sale as of publishing, (bummer) it was all the way down to $40 last week – and as you'll see with the wide range of looks below that's a price to versatility ratio that makes damn good sense.


The reason a sweater like this is so great is, while it's pretty minimalist in its style (no ornate knitting or patterns), the thicker, rolled neck with the 2 button placket adds a level of sophistication and intentionality a standard crew neck can't possibly achieve on its own.

Paired with a complementary green v-neck tee and moc-toe boots creates a decidedly casual Getup that'll still have you dressed better than 90% of the schleps at your destination.

A person standing in a room

Jcrew factory shawl sweater vneck t-shirt uniqlo Thorogood moc toe boot review Gap slim fit jeans
Casual shawl collar sweater outfit

Sweater: J.Crew Factory, $55 / V-neck Tee: Uniqlo, $7 / Light Wash Jeans: Gap, $70 / Moc Toe Boots: Thorogood, $169

An interesting note about this look in particular is the lighter wash denim: If we were to opt for our selvedge denim for this look, it would increase its smart casual level by a few points. Add a collared shirt to that and you'll get our next look…

Smart Casual

An outfit like this is a perfect fall uniform. Invited to a friend of a friend's party or a bar you're unsure of the ‘fanciness' of? Our sweater dressed up with a plaid shirt, dark selvedge denim, and our beautiful blackcherry Red Wing Beckmans will never steer you wrong.

Tan sweater outfit example with boots

Jcrew Shawl sweater Red Wing Beckman review Uniqlo stretch selvedge denim Gap plaid flannel shirt
Smart Casual outfit inspiration

Sweater: J.Crew Factory, $55 / Flannel Shirt (similar): Gap, $60 / Selvedge Denim: Uniqlo, $50 / Boots: Red Wing, $281

Super Casual, i.e. “Athleisure”

The introduction of uber casual elements like workout pants and designer athletic sneakers is now well-established in the world of men's fashion. Half of men rejoice, excited to include the sleeker, more minimalist styles and gain comfortability. The other half shun it as lazy. But it doesn't have to be either-or. Adding our sweater and henley takes these sweatpants from “rolled out of bed this way” to an intentional weekend outfit for donning on your more casual days off. Simply swap in your denim when it's time to head out in the evening.

Tan sweater outfit example with sweatpants

Jcrew shawl sweater Old Navy Henley New Balance sneakers gap sweatpants
Shawl collar sweater with sweatpants outfit inspiration

Sweater: J.Crew Factory, $55 / Henley (similar): Old Navy, $25 / Sweatpants: Gap, $60 / Sneakers (similar): New Balance, $80


This a really great versatile “dressed up” outfit. It's flexible, because while it has dress pants, dress shoes, and a tie, we've replaced a blazer with our lambswool sweater, making it an easy go-to when you're not sure how dressed up to be. Trying to figure out what to wear to the company holiday party? This is it.

Tan sweater outfit example with dress shoes

Aldo wingitp Jack Threads gingham shirt purple tie from the tie bar Stantt gingham shirt stantt shirt link Express Innovator pant jcrew factory shawl sweater
Fall dress outfit inspiration for men

Sweater: J.Crew Factory, $55 / Shirt: Stantt, $98 / Tie: The Tie Bar, $19 / Watch: MVMT, $95 / Pants (similar): Express, $70 / Shoes (similar): Aldo, $90

I'd love to hear what you think! Please share and chat with me in the comments!

Andrew Snavely

Andrew founded Primer in 2008 and brings 15+ years of men's style expertise. Known for his practical, relatable approach to style and self-development, he has been a recognized speaker at conferences and has styled work for top brands. Off-duty, he loves photography & editing, and enjoys road trips with his dog, Leela. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, educated in DC, and living in LA for nearly 20 years, Andrew's diverse experiences shape the relatable and real-world advice that has helped millions through Primer. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.