What if we told you there was a piece you could add to your closet for less than $60 that would actually change your life? (Or at least the way you dress.) It exists, and what it is might surprise you: a sleeveless sweater. In a soft crewneck style that's not too loose or too fitted—we're partial to this shell from J. Crew—a sleeveless sweater can be mix-and-matched with the rest of your wardrobe straight through all four seasons.
Right now, in this balmy summer weather we've been having, knit shells act as a slightly elevated version of that T-shirt or muscle tank you love to wear with jeans and skirts. When fall hits, however, it neatly layers under your longline coats; for extra insulation in the winter, simply pull it on over a turtleneck bodysuit for warm without bulk. And that's just a tiny fraction of the ways you can wear it.
To illustrate just how much of a hero piece this design is, we dreamed up five different outfits to get inspired. In fact, we may have just convinced ourselves that we actually need three or four sleeveless sweaters in our rotation, like, immediately.
1. For Summer Brunching With Girlfriends
During the warm summer months, a sleeveless sweater acts as a polished alternative to your favorite T-shirt. For a brunch or weekend adventure that calls for a more pulled together look, tuck it into a feminine, pleated skirt and complete the ensemble with a structured bag and jaunty scarf around your neck.
Shop the look: J. Crew shell, $50 (originally $60); jcrew.com. Topshop skirt, $60; topshop.com. Superga sneakers, $65; nordstrom.com. Dolce & Gabbana scarf, $225; net-a-porter.com. Loeffler Randall bag, $395; loefflerrandall.com.
2. For Happy Hour In The Spring
It's no secret that the editors of InStyle have been obsessed with cropped kick-flare jeans for a while now—and we aren't cooling on the look anytime soon. If you're right there with us, consider working your favorite pair into sleeveless sweater ensemble numero duo, along with a cool collar necklace, chic (adult-appropriate) backpack, and killer block heel mules.
Shop the look: J. Crew shell, $50 (originally $60); jcrew.com. The Great jeans, $265; matchesfashion.com. Jeffrey Campbell slides, $130; shopbop.com. Fallon necklace, $530; barneys.com. Zara bag, $30; zara.com.
3. For Going Out to Dinner All Year
Can you imagine a time when the above look wouldn't work for dinner? (Just add tights on super-cold nights.) Us neither. Although the soft grey color will play well with just about hue and pattern in your closet, we particularly love how it looks against a black-and-white lattice pattern and rich, forest green leather.
Shop the look: J. Crew shell, $50 (originally $60); jcrew.com. Maje skirt, $295; maje.com. & Other Stories shoes, $135; stories.com. Mansur Gavriel bucket bag, $610; mansurgavriel.com. Levi’s denim jacket (sunshine indigo), $70; levi.com.
4. For Fall Travel
Ah, the stop-start, rush-relax process of air travel. The key to surviving is a smartly layered outfit that goes straight from a sweaty run to your gate to the freezing cold terminal. Enter the sleeveless sweater: the ideal top to pair with stretchy white denim and ankle boots you can easily take on and off at security.
Shop the look: J. Crew shell, $50 (originally $60); jcrew.com. Topshop jeans, $74; topshop.com. Rag & Bone booties, $495; nordstrom.com. Mango coat, $230; mango.com. Away carry on luggage, $225; awaytravel.com.
5. For Winter Layering
When the brutal cold of deep winter really sets in, more than one top is the secret to survival. The least bulky combo? A sleek turtleneck bodysuit with sleeveless crewneck on top, for a cozy, color-blocked combination that won't bunch under your coat. To avoid looking like you just stepped of the ski slopes try a pair of wide leg trousers or flares instead of your go-to skinny jeans.
Shop the look: J. Crew shell, $50 (originally $60); jcrew.com. Theory bodysuit, $160; net-a-porter.com. See By Chloe corduroy trousers, $280; matchesfashion.com. JW Anderson earrings, $405; net-a-porter.com. Acne Studios boots, $600; net-a-porter.com.