15 Ways To Style A Vest To Add Interest To An Outfit

Vests are the fashionable underdog of your closet. They might not always be the first thing you reach for, but every time you do, they are typically the piece that pulls an outfit together. There's an option that works with almost any style aesthetic, from minimalist to boho-chic to grungy (and everything in between). Cozy sweater vests, athletic puffer vests, cropped denim vests, and preppy waistcoats are just some of the options you'll come across. Since there are so many choices and just as many different ways to wear them, you might feel overwhelmed with how to style a vest, so we've rounded up some inspiration for you to make this versatile piece a closet staple.

Vests are easy to wear, both in terms of style and practicality. They come in a range of silhouettes, from cropped and fitted to long and oversized. Their sleeveless design makes them comfortable to pair with just about anything (if you've ever tried to layer a bulky shirt or sweater, you know how much the sleeves can make a difference). Wear them as a top on their own, layered over a T-shirt or long-sleeve shirt, or under blazers and outerwear. The versatility in designs means you can wear vests year-round, with options available for every season. From light linen vests for summer to classic knit sweater vests for winter, there are endless ways to style a vest to elevate your look.

Denim on denim

Canadian tuxedos have a tacky reputation, and whether you love them or not really comes down to your personal style. We happen to be fans of denim-on-denim looks, but we also understand if jeans and a jean jacket feels like too much. Here's an alternative: Try a denim skirt and a denim vest instead. It's a whole lot more chic, but takes advantage of the jean-on-jean look.

Oversized waistcoat

Waistcoats have a formal vibe to them, so they can be intimidating to style in your everyday looks. One way to tone down the formality is by choosing an oversized waistcoat. A roomier option is easy to throw over most outfits, as long as your base look is put-together. A white button-down shirt and fitted trousers are always a good option. Swap out trousers with leather pants to give the outfit an edgier feel.

Vest over a dress

Not sure how to style a vest into the warmer months? Throwing one over a dress is one way to bring this staple into your summer wardrobe. For transitional seasons, you can get away with sweater vests and other knits over dresses — they're a good way to add just a bit of warmth if it's too hot for a jacket but too chilly to go without a second layer. In the summer, you'll want to opt for lighter waistcoats, linen vests, or thin denim vests, which add interest to your outfit without adding too much heat.

Sweater vest and a button-down shirt

This is the classic combination that comes to mind when most people picture a sweater vest and a long shirt. Sweater vests have a preppy look to them, so they pair perfectly with a collared button-down shirt. If you have a button-down long-sleeve that has been sitting in the back of your closet waiting to be worn, then the perfect way to do so is under an adorable knitted sweater vest.

Puffer vest with a cozy sweater

Vests don't have to be formal, and the puffer vest proves it. This is one of the most casual vest options, ideal for if you have an athleisure or minimalist style. Puffer vests add a lot of warmth as well and you can wear them as your outer insulated layer or underneath a jacket on those really chilly days. They pair nicely with a baggy sweater, long-sleeve shirt, or fitted turtleneck.

Fitted vest shirt

A vest doesn't need to be layered over anything — it's perfectly acceptable to wear a vest as a shirt. Fitted options are popular because they have a corset-like look that accentuates your torso. If you'd rather go for an oversized look, choose a more flexible material, like a thin linen vest or a knitted sweater vest. These types of vests will drape nicely so you won't feel the need to wear other layers underneath to make the outfit look put-together.

Layered under a jacket

Many of us think of vests as something to be layered over something else, like a T-shirt or sweater, but you can also consider how the vest looks layered under your favorite outerwear. A knit sweater vest can add a cozy element under a winter parka, trench coat, or jean jacket. Best of all, if you're layering for warmth, this means you can add style without needing to worry about the extra sleeves.

Sweater vest and frilly top

Sweater vests and cozy style aesthetics go hand-in-hand, so it's no surprise that you can incorporate knit vests into a cottagecore style. A frilly or lacy shirt with a large collar is the right choice to get a slightly more rustic look (as opposed to preppy, which is how sweater vests and collared shirts tend to look). To complete the outfit, choose flowy pants, corduroy pants, or a maxi skirt to really lean into a cottagecore or boho aesthetic. Or you can't go wrong with classic blue jeans, which will make this combination feel more modern.

Rock a sweater vest on its own

If you have a sweater vest that's just too soft to resist, wear it on its own. You'll want a vest that's fitted or not too oversized (although we do think a peek-a-boo bralette moment can be cute, too). Style the vest untucked for a more relaxed feel or tuck it into the top of jeans, trousers, or a skirt for a preppier look.

Sweater vest with a long button-down shirt

When the weather warms up, or if you just want to look a little more dressed up for a night out, opt for a sweater vest with a long button-down shirt as a dress. This outfit is a bit more revealing and sultry, and looks especially cool when paired with combat boots or platform boots. To make sure you're covered, wear a pair of fitted shorts under the shirt.

Waistcoat with casual wear

Waistcoats are generally associated with formal outfits, but there are ways to make them a lot more casual. Pair a waistcoat with relaxed but preppy elements to get a toned-down look that's still cohesive. A miniskirt, tailored shorts or trousers, and stylish trendy sneakers are all good choices, and you can also add preppy accessories like a headband or leather bag to really tie the varsity look together.

Sweater vest and white T-shirt

When it's too warm to rock your favorite sweaters, reach for a sweater vest and a white T-shirt instead. It's a great way to bring knitted pieces into warmer seasons. You can go for a fitted silhouette or opt for a looser and boxier style. The former has a boyish charm that we love, but either can work with a range of bottoms, including jeans, skirts, and shorts.

Belted vest

Just like with any outfit, accessories can take a vest look to the next level. The easiest way to accessorize is with a belt around your waist, which will instantly give a boxy vest more shape. This outfit idea works best with long and oversized vests — they'll have enough fabric to actually belt and give you an hourglass shape.

Oversized sweater vest

There's something charming about a super oversized sweater vest. Plus, some of the coolest sweater vest patterns can be found in the men's section of thrift stores, which really helps expand your options. Pair an oversized sweater vest with other boxy items, like loose pants or a maxi skirt. This type of outfit combination is so comfortable for those days when you don't feel like wearing anything fitted.

Sweater vest over a black long-sleeve shirt

A white button-down shirt is popular for layering under a sweater vest, but a sleek black long-sleeve is just as versatile. A tight black top adds a bit of an edgier look while sticking to preppy roots, with the knitted sweater vest stealing the show. This option can be better for layering since a fitted long-sleeve is easier to slide into other sweaters and jackets. Choose a turtleneck to make this combination look extra cozy.