Updated: After such great response to our fall guide to how to wear a vest, we’ve updated this to be more season specific for the warmer months. Enjoy!
We’ve gotten some vest questions, which line up with confusion that we’re seeing on the streets. So we’ve put together a quick guide on how to look your best when wearing a vest (yes, it rhymes …).
What’s confusing about the vest is that it would make sense that you could wear it just like you would a jacket or blazer, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up looking like a sideline photographer at a football game … or a Girl Scout.
There are two types of vests, generally speaking, that women are wearing this season: a short vest and a long vest. The long vest is a bit more forgiving, but here are some general rules for both.
As a general rule (and we’ll show you how to break it in just a sec), stick to sleeveless tops beneath your vest or long sleeves. As explained with the Girl Scouts, it just looks better to avoid the short sleeve nine times out of 10.
In fact, when we looked at what Nordstrom offers online in the fall, out of the 344 vests they have for women, all professionally styled to make you want to buy each and every one, only 20 were styled with short sleeves. All the rest are styled showcasing bare arms or long sleeves. This was even when cold weather was coming! There’s a reason: it generally looks better to pick longer sleeves or no sleeves.
If you are going to wear a short-sleeve T-shirt or blouse with your vest, one way to keep it polished is to match your top color to your bottom color, providing a column of color under your vest. You can also wear a sheath dress under the vest for the same effect.
Or wear one with a white tee (or tank) and your jeans, as that is just a classic look.
Wearing a vest (especially the military-inspired green vest) with a striped dress or striped top just plain works. Do it! Here are some examples:
Why is the short sleeve so hard to wear with a vest? The vest has its own visual breaking point at your shoulder. When you add another breaking point, the one of the short-sleeve top, a few inches down the arm in a different color, it’s a lot for your eye to take in. Add a different neckline on both and a different place where it ends across your hips or legs, and the short sleeves end up adding a bit of chaos that many times tilts the outfit into being off balance. But if the top is the same color as the bottom (i.e. white jeans + white tee + your vest OR gray pants + gray short-sleeve top + your vest) you can pull off the short sleeves more easily. Or match the color of the top to the vest as another option.
Vest options that are the easiest to work with are black, white, army green and faux fur (for cooler months). After these options, consider adding a color that works with your favorite colors or perhaps a rich suede or leather.
Now go buy a vest or take that one you haven’t been quite able to get right and wear it with confidence!
A great shoe to pair with your vest? Check out this article we just wrote on the lace-up flat. It’s fabulous: Lace-Up Flats: The On-Trend Shoe You Need NOW!