23 Ways To Style A Waistcoat To Look Chic Year-Round

Tailored and trendy, a waistcoat instantly makes an outfit look put-together. But have you ever felt stuck on how to style a waistcoat? Their formal reputation can make them feel intimidating to wear, but waistcoats are more versatile than they look. You can pair them with much more than just dress pants, and we've rounded up some waistcoat styling ideas to prove it.

When it comes to wearing a waistcoat, there's no need to stick with their original intention: a vest as part of men's formalwear. Women's waistcoats come in a range of styles so you can wear them alone as a top, layered over a shirt or long-sleeve, or as an eye-catching detail under a chic blazer or overcoat. They come in fitted and oversized silhouettes and in neutral tones or funky patterns, and their androgynous look suits feminine and masculine styling. Even with the simplest outfits, they can give a model-off-duty vibe that looks effortlessly cool. Best of all, since they're such a fabulous layering piece, you can incorporate them into your look in any season. 

Rock a monochrome set

If you're not sure how to style a waistcoat, one of the easiest ways is by buying a monochrome set. Monochrome outfits pretty much always look stylish — they're just so intentional that people can't help but notice the effort behind them (even if matching sets are so low effort!). A waistcoat set takes the difficulty out of styling this formal vest: You know the waistcoat and pants will always match each other perfectly when they're part of a set. Beyond a perfect color match, the trousers will also be nicely fitted to match the waistcoat's length and silhouette.

With a preppy miniskirt

There's a certain level of formality typical to preppy style, so it's no surprise that waistcoats fit right in with preppy outfits. Pinstripe, plaid, and gingham miniskirts all look gorgeous with a plain waistcoat. You can either choose a cropped silhouette to match the skirt, or go for a slightly oversized waistcoat if you want to feel a bit more covered up.

Mix patterns

A patterned skirt and a plain waistcoat are easy to pair together, but if you want your outfit to be more distinctive, why not try mixing patterns? Mixing patterns can be a hit-and-miss experiment, so the easiest way to try it out is to just throw the outfit on. The combinations that "work" might just surprise you! Choose a waistcoat and trousers with similar patterns for a subtler take on this styling idea.

Try a vintage waistcoat

Waistcoats can feel a little stuffy, especially when they're plain and fitted. If your style leans more boho or old-fashioned, rock a vintage waistcoat. Embroidered, patterned, or beaded designs tend to look a bit more decorative rather than formal, so they can add a ton of interest to an outfit.

As part of a sleek all-black outfit

All black outfits don't need to be boring — you can add a lot of visual interest with layers and accessories. A black waistcoat makes a stunning layering piece to your sleek and dark outfits. Wearing black from head-to-toe always gives a certain cool factor, and a waistcoat can up the formality of your look to suit almost any occasion, from an important work meeting to dinner with friends.

With a maxi skirt

Looking for a new way to elevate your maxi skirt outfits? You can't go wrong with a tank top or T-shirt, but for a whole new look, try pairing a maxi skirt with a waistcoat. You can wear the waistcoat layered over a shirt, but we think it looks fabulous worn on its own. A maxi skirt already has so much flow and fabric, so there's no need to add extra — rock a cropped waistcoat with a long skirt for a stylish and comfortable summer outfit.

Over a little black dress

A little black dress is a closet essential, but it's another piece that can start to feel boring if you wear it too often. One way to upgrade your little black dress is to add another layer, such as a waistcoat. You can play with color combinations, adding a colorful waistcoat over your favorite LBD. Or, if you want to stick with an all-black theme, consider a waistcoat with decorative accents or a textured material like leather or velvet, which will add dimension to your outfit.

With jeans and heels

Blue jeans are a classic, and jeans and heels are the perfect pairing for when you want to dress up but still feel comfortable. Though it might not be the first thing you reach for, a waistcoat looks fabulous with jeans and heels. This type of outfit is perfect for a date night or dinner with the girls.

Keep comfy in jeans and sandals

Once you realize there's a way to pair a waistcoat with even the most casual pieces, it makes this formal vest feel way less intimidating. Trusty blue jeans go with just about everything, including waistcoats. And you don't need to pair this combination with a formal shoe, either. It can look just as stylish with trendy boots, sneakers, or sandals, depending on the season.

Under a blazer

If you don't like to stray too far from styling traditions, then wear your waistcoat under a blazer. This styling gives it a formalwear vibe, aligned with the traditional use as part of a men's three-piece suit. It's a little more versatile, though, since you can rock it to more formal events, the office, or a fun night out with friends, all depending on how you accessorize.

Style a linen set

Waistcoats are usually associated with fall fashion, but you can actually wear them year round with the right outfit and materials. Linen is a lightweight material that's perfect for summer, so for the hotter months, consider a linen waistcoat that won't trap heat. A waistcoat short set for summer is so effortlessly put together and it should help keep you cool as well.

Undone waistcoat

Part of what gives waistcoats their formal appearance is that they are neatly buttoned up. If you want to make your waistcoat outfit more casual, keep your vest undone. This styling works with both fitted and oversized vests. Keep your waistcoat the star of the outfit by pairing it with a neutral undershirt, which gives your look a plain base.

Over a dress

Another gorgeous and comfortable way to rock a waistcoat through the summer is to wear it over a dress. A cropped waistcoat can likely work with a range of dresses in your closet, ranging from mini to maxi. The best way to make this type of outfit look cohesive is by matching the waistcoat to one element of the dress, such as matching the waistcoat color to a flower pattern on the dress.

With classic black trousers

It's genuinely hard to go wrong with a waistcoat and black trousers. If you're still feeling iffy about the other styling inspiration on this list, then this is the classic combination to try. As a formalwear piece, waistcoats are meant to pair with fitted pants like trousers. You can opt for a neutral waistcoat for a minimalist look, or go for a colorful or patterned option to stand out — either will work beautifully with black pants.

With tailored shorts

Take the idea of a waistcoat and trousers and make it summer-friendly. You'll end up with a waistcoat and tailored shorts! Longer shorts make this outfit look more classy, but you can opt for short shorts with a fitted waistcoat. If you're worried about the heat, opt for light colors and lightweight materials.

With silk trousers

Loose and flowy silk trousers always look classy when they're styled just right — they feel vacation-chic, like you just stepped off a yacht in some beautiful seaside location. Plus they're also very comfortable. A waistcoat is a fantastic pairing with silk pants. It ties in with that elevated look and plays on the formal reputation of silk.

Over a collared button-down

Just like pretty much any other vest, a waistcoat will always look nice under a white button-down. It's clean, professional, and chic, so it's an outfit you can wear to work or to a nice brunch. To add even more interest to an outfit, consider choosing a colorful button-down rather than white. Vibrant colors add a ton of personality, while neutral and subdued tones add a little oomph without looking too bright.

Over a sheer shirt

A sheer shirt can be so stylish and sultry, but sometimes, you might want to be more covered up. If you're looking for a chic overshirt that adds to your outfit rather than just covers up, then a waistcoat is a stunning pick. It can make a night-out outfit look more put-together, and you can always shed the layer if you want to show off your look more.

With flowy linen pants

Another way to rock a waistcoat through summer is with linen pants. If you go for a light color and lightweight material, linen pants can help you keep cool in the summer, and are especially great for when you can't or don't want to wear shorts or a skirt. To make the outfit more classy rather than casual, a fitted waistcoat is the perfect pairing top.

With shorts and boots

Boots and a miniskirt are the go-to combination for a night out in warm weather — nice boots offer a sense of formality when you don't want to wear heels. To get a similar vibe that's more comfy, try boots and tailored shorts. A cropped and fitted waistcoat is a stunning top to finish off this look and make it party-ready.

Oversized waistcoat

Waistcoats don't need to be fitted to look good. An oversized waistcoat can give your outfit a more relaxed vibe, leaning towards boho. When paired with a boxy shirt and loose trousers, you can create an elegant masculine outfit that's also comfortable to rock out, whether that's for work or for a day with friends.

Over a summery skirt

A short skirt and comfy sneakers is a classic summer's day outfit for when you want to look cute but feel comfortable. It's a go-to outfit for running around town, whether that's doing errands or spending time with family and friends. If there's anything on your schedule that you want to look put-together for, wear this outfit with a waistcoat instead of your usual shirt or tank top — it elevates an otherwise simple look.

With patterned pants

Patterned linen pants are a summer staple, adding some interest to your look while keeping everything somewhat subdued and relaxed. Sometimes these pants can feel a bit too casual, so styling matters to make them look like a chic outfit rather than your cozy home pants. A neutral waistcoat is an elevated shirt option that will match any pattern.