Spearmint & Polka-Dots (And An Easy Way To Pair Button Downs With Sweaters)

My favorite item from the J.Crew sale this past weekend is definitely this Honeycomb Cable Sweater in Heather Spearmint. Right away, I was daydreaming about pairing the crisp, minty-blue with my other new favorite find, this H&M navy polka-dot button down (post coming soon). I really wanted to wear a different color pant with this (too much navy on navy I think) but nothing else looked right…note to self: find grey jeggings.

I won’t go into too much fit detail about this sweater since Jean already did such a great job, but I will say the sleeves fit really slim (had to tug a bit to get them on) and the torso fits a little loose, typical of J.crew sweaters. I don’t mind the relaxed fit since I’ll be layering under these.

I’m loving button-downs with sweaters, but couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to layer them without fumbling over twisted sleeves and endlessly tugging to straighten everything out. After asking for tips on Twitter, I learned a very helpful trick (many thanks go out to PetiteAsianGirl, oohtana, and Saimaeve!)

Instead of putting on the button down, and then pulling on the sweater, put the shirt inside the sweater, all nice and straight, and then pull both on over your head. I kept one button buttoned while I pulled both other my head (to keep the shirt in place), and then unbuttoned it before pulling on the sleeves. Then just reach under the sweater and button up. The sleeves and collar were perfectly in place without any twisting, tugging or adjusting. Genius!

Outfit Details: J.Crew Honeycomb Sweater, size xxs :: H&M button-down, size 2 :: Paige jeans, size 23 (hemmed) :: Cole Haan Shoes, size 5 :: J.Crew “Edie” handbag :: J.Crew necklace :: Timex watch :: Pearl bracelets (similar) :: Daisy Knights ring

Readers: Any other genius ways to layer a button down under a sweater?

Join the Conversation


  1. I’ve been waiting to see this pretty combo together! I love the tiny dots with the chunkier honeycomb knit. If you can’t find gray bottoms, would you ever wear winter white jeggings? I think it’d add a pretty fresh angle to this outfit, but I know white jeans in cold weather are not for everyone. Thanks again for the timely sale alert on these!

    1. You read my mind yet again! Yes, white is another option that I thought would look great (probably because of Khatu’s wonderful white pants that are now forever stuck in my mind). I just hate how hard a good, non-see-through pair are to find! I saw the Rockstars come in white…do you think they’d be really thin & see-through?

      1. says: Jen (@CasualChicMom)

        I second the white jeans with this outfit, but I’m liking the navy+navy plus pop of mint. Maybe also a lighter denim wash would work? I tried on the white ON Rockstar jeggings and they were semi see-through on me (visible pockets). It may be because I have thicker thighs and they’re more snug on me.

        Maybe you or Jean can make a tutorial video on how to put on the button down or sweater. I imagined it the way you described it but it helps to have a visual. :)

  2. says: Anonymous

    I second what Jean said. I have been waiting to see this post. Such a pretty combo and refreshing too. This is definitely my favorite outfit.

  3. says: Carrie

     Great tip on putting on the shirt and sweater smoothly. The necklace is perfect with that outfit as well. :) Hoping the cooler weather sticks around here for a little longer so I can try out that tip  … :)

  4. says: eann

    I got the same sweater as a Christmas gift, but I’ve found that it sheds like crazy! White fuzz all over the inside of my coat, the outside of the cami I wore underneath, my purse, the boyfriends coat. Nightmare! Did I get a faulty sweater or does yours shed on everything too?

    1. Wow! Your sweater shed everywhere! My navy button-down is fuzzy, and will need to be de-fuzzed, but that was the extent of the damage. Have you tried washing it yet? Maybe a quick tumble in the dryer will help (I haven’t washed mine yet, so I’m not certain it will help)? Although be care of shrinkage if it fits you the way you like.

  5. says: jeni

    oooh, thanks for the tip! and as long as I’m reading the comments, I’d love to find a part of white jeans/leggings too. (although I’m still a college student, so I suppose I could put white shorts to good use too.)

  6. The sweater really goes well with the polka dots shirt! Jane from extrapetite also wore a similar sweater that I love. I didn’t scored any sweater at Jcrew recently. But I do found a jacket from Ann Taylor that fits me very well. Thanks for the tips about hunting blazers and jackets again!

  7. says: Amber

    love this outfit! i was just checking out that sweater but it just didnt fit me right! oh well, im allergic to angora anyways, so its probably a good thing! i actually always put on sweaters like that. its because im too lazy to take them apart after the first wear.

  8. says: R.L.

    Love the navy polka dots with the mint!!  I don’t think it’s too much navy on navy, but maybe you could try black pants or the Loft wool pants.

    Also, I saw your instagram and noticed that you have 4 of these sweaters?  Lol, that good?  I got the pine bough today, and now I’m thinking of getting the warm ivory and bright dahlia too.  This is the first cable sweater that fits me well and I figure cable sweaters are winter staples, right?

    1. Good idea about the LOFT wool pants. I thought about black, but the navy shirt is so dark, that it almost looks black in certain light. Don’t want to look like I got dressed in the dark. =)

      I bought 3 of the sweaters…I had to have the spearmint, and I was needing some solid crew neck sweaters so I picked up the white and grey as well. Cable sweaters in those colors never really go out of style. Hehe. I love the bright dahlia as well and am kinda wishing I had picked that one up too. Oh well. =P

  9. says: Iris

    I might be a weirdo but that method sounds like wayyy more work than
    what I actually do all the time when layering long-sleeved tops under
    sweaters (both pullovers and cardigans). And mine is so simple and quick
    I feel like I misunderstood the question?

    So, at the risk of sounding silly, I literally just: put the long-sleeve
    or button-down on. Then tug my right sleeve down a bit so that I can
    grip the sleeve’s edge with my right hand’s fingers (feels slightly
    awkward depending how long/stretchy the sleeve is). Hold taut with
    fingers and put through right sleeve of sweater, even so that a bit of
    the INNER sleeve peeks through under the edge (could make for easier
    adjusting later). Repeat with left sleeve. Then pull the rest of the
    sweater over your head and tweak to taste (cuff/pull out collar/fluff sweater/etc). There shouldn’t be
    bunching if you’ve held the sleeves taut enough so that the sweater
    slides over them easily, and for me this generally means the torso area
    ends up pretty much in place too. This takes me mayyybe ten seconds. I
    tend to get dressed in a hurry and I totally would not have time to put
    the button-up in the sweater first, etc. Hahaha. I don’t always need the
    sleeves to peek through first either if I know I want them hidden (so I
    just align the edges), and sometimes if the sleeves are stretchy I grip
    both at the same time and it’s even faster :P In, in and over; fluff.
    Efficiency FTW!

    Anyway, is this even what you were referring to? Did I totally miss the
    mark? Did I elaborate on something totally useless? Did I even elaborate
    it well enough for it be useless? Does this only work for me and nobody
    else in the whole world? LOL

    On perhaps a more relevant note, I would also love this outfit with gray or white jeans! The mint with navy and polka dots is so delicious.

    1. Hi Iris! You’re right on mark. That is the exact move I just couldn’t ever get right! I’m still confounded that so many ladies can do that without tugging and pulling endlessly on sleeves and collars. My shirt sleeves would be straight from holding them tight, but my sweater sleeve would be all twisted, especially at the shoulder. That would cause the sweater torso to be out of line, and my shirt collar would always end up too far back. I would fuss with straightening things out for way too long. It’s much more time saving for me to now put the shirt inside the sweater first, and then pull them both on together. Weird right? =)

  10. says: Megan Gann

    I wear sleeveless buttondowns under sweaters. They do double duty as tops in summer, but that way I eliminate both overheating (living in the US South) and twisty sleeves. Love your color combo.

  11. says: LaCosta

    How do you get the sweater and button up to fit so nicely and get the sleeves and bottom to show? I love this look but can’t seem to achieve it! I am left wondering if my dress shirts are being bought too small or maybe my sweaters are being bought too big?!? Please help me, pretty please

    1. Hi LaCosta! The sleeves are easy…just gently bunch the sweater sleeve up a little ways so the cuff of your shirt shows. To get the length of the sweater to show your shirt hem, you can try cropped styles, or I sometimes just fold the sweater under so it appears a little shorter than it really is. Hope that helps!

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