With summer now well and truly in top gear, dressing appropriately to combat the rising temperatures is imperative. Yet doing it in style is a task that tests even the most seasoned of dresser.
Out of the numerous wardrobe staples available for constructing summer-appropriate outfits, the vest is arguably the most polarising in opinion. Especially as its stock is currently high with some undesirable style tribes: Geordie Shore, Jersey Shore, hipsters etc.
However, as Will pointed out in a recent article, the vest is a modern essential that is perfect for tackling high summer heat. He also reminded us all that it’s very much a case of ‘how you wear, not what you wear’.
Today we take a look at a variety of ways to style the vest, covering multiple aesthetics, scenarios and occasions…
Ways To Wear: Vests
Men’s Vest Lookbook
First, let’s get the creative juices flowing with some modern lookbook examples:
Look One: Simple Summer Style
The structure of the vest makes it perfect for the heat. Breezy, cooling and loose; the piece is a godsend when tackling temperatures over thirty degrees. When summer strikes, stripping back your style is often the best practice, so forget about intricate layering, heavy materials and the like for the few months of sun we see.
With that in mind, the vest can become an integral part of any simple summer ensemble. A print on the vest – whether it’s bold and brave (see tie-dye) or a sparse and subtle embroider – is a great way of injecting some personality and a focal point into your look.
Counter the unfavourable associations of the vest by combining it with a set of superbly tailored shorts. A pair with a streamlined cut that finishes a few inches above the knee is ideal – don’t go too short in length and resist the bulk of the cargo or board short.
Finish your outfit with a pair of minimal trainers, boat shoes or, if you’re feeling a bit more daring, leather sandals:
- Bellfield Vest With Floral Print
- Ami Straight-leg Brushed-cotton Shorts
- Common Projects Men’s White Original Achilles Sneakers
Look Two: Bold & Bohemian
The opposite of simple and minimal, try adding a touch of bohemian to your summer attire. Opt for a vest in a louche fit: one that isn’t sloppy and in danger of displaying nipple, but a more relaxed take that doesn’t border on indecent exposure. In this case the vest is kept plain and neutral and the statement is provided by a pair of printed trousers.
Once again, avoid extremely skinny cuts. Slim or straight fits will allow air to circulate between your trousers and legs, keeping you cooler in high temperatures. Not to mention a more relaxed silhouette lends itself extremely well to any boho-inspired aesthetic. We keep the light and airy feel of this ensemble going right down to the footwear with a pair of leather sandals.
You could always opt to cut the outfit there, but if you want the full bohemian look, in the manner of a certain Johnny Depp, then invest in some key accessories. Stick to the rule of three with two pieces of jewellery combined with a great piece of head wear.
A ring, bracelet and on trend Panama hat would be our three picks to complement this look, which oozes confidence:
- Allsaints Handro Vest
- Topman Multi Smudged Skinny Trousers
- Seagrass Broad Brim Hat
- Allsaints Bolt Ring
- Paul Smith Mens Silver Skull Bracelet
- Ancient Greek Sandals Thalos Sandals 143650
Look Three: Smart-Casual Layering
When the weather begins to turn and the temperature is in a mood of fluctuation, use the vest as a go-to layering piece. Helping to keep you cooler than a t-shirt, the vest often has a neckline that differs from its sleeved counterpart, making it a great way to mix up your look.
The blazer is undoubtedly this year’s key piece and even though mixing one with a vest is the ultimate formal/casual juxtaposition, it works staggering well. This combination could be used to dress up a casual look in the weeks leading up to summer, at night when temperatures drop or during the transition into autumn. Just make sure you keep the vest neutral and plain and stay away from styles that are tight fitting and/or skimpy.
A timeless navy blazer is a definitive wardrobe staple and would really demonstrate its versatility within this outfit. However, this look is also the perfect opportunity to inject bold statement tailoring into your attire – something that is very much on trend yet still completely unsaturated. Think colours and prints to really set your outfit apart.
Lightweight trousers, in cotton, linen or a blend of the two, should be your first port of call come the seasonal transition. Within this look they cement the smart-casual theme that runs throughout. Loafers or suede shoes are a considered and seasonally-appropriate choice.
Finish off with a rakishly tucked pocket square and, for the complete dandy accompaniment, consider something that has slipped off the sartorial radar of late: the neckerchief.
- American Apparel Big Pocket Tank
- Topman Red Cotton Skinny Suit Jacket
- J.crew 484 Slim-fit Garment-dyed Cotton-twill Chinos
- Reiss Holiday Triangular Print Pocket Square Blue
- Cotton Paisley Bandana – Navy Blue
- Florsheim Doon Suede Wing Brogues In Navy
Look Four: Sports-Luxe
The vest is traditionally considered workout gear, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be taken out of the weights’ section and inserted into a look ready for a casual day of errand running.
The sports-luxe trend took off last year due to the Olympic Games influence. This year we’ve been treated to another sterling summer of sport, meaning sports-luxe shouldn’t be discarded just yet.
Layer a bomber over the top of the vest to bring the outfit up a notch, and then make the contentious decision to wear your sweatpants outside of the house. Keep the sweats slim and contemporary (see our previous article on the subject) in order to maintain your style standards.
Complete the look with a pair of simple, sports-inspired sneakers. New Balance made the cut here but Jack Purcells, Chuck Taylors or Adidas Sambas are other astute choices:
- Sunspel Cotton Vest
- Topman Red Aztec Trim Bomber Jacket
- BAND OF OUTSIDERS SLIM-FIT LOOPBACK COTTON-JERSEY SWEATPANTS
- NEW BALANCE 996 NUBUCK AND MESH SNEAKERS
Look Five: Nautical Nuances
Nautical is a perennial summer trend that never fails to make an appearance. Work a vest into your look with a nautical-inspired version, complete with timeless Breton stripes, and prepare for a spout of wet weather with a lightweight rain jacket layered over the top.
Neutral, lighter tone chinos take the outfit down a slightly more refined route yet they work effortlessly with the top half – Riviera chic meets rugged, fisherman-inspired style.
Complete the look with low-cut suede boots. For those looking for something summer-appropriate, try boat shoes – they will help reinforce the nautical theme and could provide an unexpected injection of colour:
- Selected Vest With Stripe
- Farah Vintage Akin Hooded Jacket In Dark Fire
- Reiss Solace Soft Chinos With Garment Wash Beige
- Allsaints Dice Boot
- Worn By New Order Raw-cut Tank
- Suit Hampton Koi Print Tank In Burgundy
- American Apparel Drapeau Français Print Fine Jersey Tank
- American Apparel Stripe Tank
- Jack & Jones Stripe Slub Vest
- Adidas X Opening Ceremony Mens Blocked Vest
- Allsaints Gurand Vest
- Topman Blue Marl Classic Vest
- River Island Yellow Ones Supply Co. Floral Print Vest
- River Island White University Of Michigan Print Vest
- Topman Serge Denimes Floral Print Vest
- Pull & Bear Anchor Tank Top
- Pull & Bear Tank Top
- Allsaints Mirach Vest
- The Elder Statesman Fine-knit Cotton And Cashmere-blend Vest
The vest is a piece that will always cause a stir and polarise opinion. Whilst many swear by it come warm weather, others are either not confident enough to wear such a revealing item or consider it sloppy in comparison to t-shirt/polo shirt alternatives.
However, even though the vest currently has some unfortunate associations and its reputation has become somewhat tainted, this definitely shouldn’t stop you adding a few key styles to your summer wardrobe rotation.
But now it is time for you to give us your opinion:
- Do you reach for the vest come summer?
- Or are you more of a t-shirt man?
- Plain or printed – do you look to make a statement with your vest or not?
- Which of the five looks do you prefer and why?
Let us know in the comments section…