Menswear is tricky. You want your look to be fresh, but not trendy and certainly not avant-garde. That said, the recent move towards a more casual professional wardrobe makes it easier to introduce an updated look into your wardrobe without straying too far from a traditional aesthetic. Now, vests are the ideal solution to update your wardrobe.
The days of the Michelin Man- adjacent puffer vests are long gone; today’s choices are sleek, stylish, and multi-seasonal. They’re the perfect combination of form and function—you can style the same vest for a day in the woods or a casual day in the office, and they provide an extra layer of warmth against the brisk New England weather.
In this guide, we’ll explore the various types of vests, and show you how they’ll work with almost anything in your wardrobe.
What Exactly Is a Vest?
For years, a “vest” was part of a three-piece suit. The correct term for such a garment is “waistcoat” as it ends at your waist. However, many older gentlemen still think of that suit component when they think of a vest. They’re not completely incorrect, as the modern man’s vest can also be worn more formally with a dress shirt and blazer.
Most vests are made from synthetic fiber and filled with down or another form of insulation, but there are some lighter-weight options in natural fibers. The thing is, the modern vest is as versatile as your life. Indeed, it can go from a business casual day to a morning on the soccer fields to an evening out.
The Traditional Quilted Vest
This is the workhorse of your vest wardrobe. It provides warmth, but without the bulk of a heavier jacket. If you’re moving about, it also gives you a better range of motion than a coat with sleeves.
Styling Quilted Vests
This is the ideal first vest since you can style it with just about anything, from business casual to a day out with the dogs. Pair it with any casual pants, but here’s a good rule of thumb: the puffier the vest, the slimmer the cut of the pants. This balances you out and avoids that overly-upholstered look.
You can also wear a quilted vest with just about any shirt that doesn’t demand a tie. Running out to grab the paper and coffee? Toss it one over a tee. There’s a chill in the air when you’re teeing off? A vest isn’t bulky, it allows movement, and is easy to stash in your bag later. If you like to layer your shirts, add a vest over a polo and henley-collared shirt.
A vest in natural fiber, such as linen, cotton flannel, or corduroy, dresses up a bit better than its nylon cousin. You can take this vest to the office with a blazer and dress pants (again, in an athletic or slimmer cut) and loafers.
How to Wear a Linen Vest
If you’re ready to up your vest game, a lightweight version in linen keeps you comfortable on days when a quilted vest is too much, but it’s cool enough to warrant another layer. Wear a linen vest with jeans or chinos or even shorts on a warmer day.
There’s no reason you have to give up your vest when the temperature warms up a bit; you can wear a linen vest until early summer, and even throughout the summer for cool nights.
If you want to be super casual on the weekends, try a hoodie vest. Layer it over a textured shirt, a linen shirt, or a tee, but stick to jeans or shorts for this relaxed look. Athletic shoes are your best option for footwear or a driving shoe.
This vest would be a stylish and modern look for outdoor cocktails and dinner, or out walking the dogs.
Accessories for a Final Polish
These are super easy to accessorize. A baseball cap or a Stetson both look at home when you’re wearing a quilted vest with jeans. Plus, boots will complete an effortless look if you’re sporting the Stetson. Driving shoes with a vest gives off a very insouciant vibe like you’re taking the Aston for a spin in the country. Add a cashmere scarf on a chilly day, but remember not to over-accessorize.
Find Vests for Any Style
Family Britches has vests to suit any man, with a selection of styles and weights. Visit our online lookbook today to find your vest style for an updated look.