How to style a vest: winter layering 101

The temperatures have dropped, and you may be looking for a bit of guidance on how to style your favourite cosy vest? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you have a favourite puffer, faux fur, wool or quilted vest, we’re sharing inspiration and tips on how to nail your favourite winter layering piece.

Head to toe. Connect the top and bottom using tonal colours. If your vest is open, wear the same colour top and pants to draw a line and the eye lengthways. If you prefer your vest closed, then wear matching pants to your vest. This will avoid the way a closed vest really chops you in half, making you appear shorter and wider than you really are.

Scarf placement. You may be tempted to tuck your scarf in flat under your vest. This can look good but usually only if that scarf isn’t too bulky. During winter, you may have a chunky scarf though so place half the fabric haphazardly over the edges of the vest to connect the layers. The trick to layering is to make it look as if they are blending or somehow connected.

Angles and drapes. If you can find a vest that drops to a point at the front or is a drop-hem at the back, then you might like to try these figure-flattering styles for size. The angled lines give the elongating illusion that we love! These drape styles can look good gently and loosely closed and secured with a pretty brooch to one side. Play around with shapes and drapes and see what works for you.

Belts. Try a belted vest or add your own over the top if you want to create shape or accentuate an hourglass figure. The key to adding your own belt is to ensure the vest is wrapped totally flush to your body before adding the belt. This typically only works with slimline vests also, not puffers. Don’t blouse out the vest over top, let it wiggle its way out on its own for a natural fall. If your vest comes with a tie belt, then wear it slightly off centre and not in a perfect bow.

Avoid doing up your vest. Sorry, we know it’s extra warm but it really cuts you in half. If it’s super chilly and it’s a necessity, then we suggest adding a long scarf as a layer to sweep down the body. Ensure the ends sit unevenly, your scarf is asymmetrically tied or it at least doesn’t finish at the same point as your vest. Otherwise, it will reinforce the optical illusion of being cut in half whereas mismatch ends create angles and, therefore, you appear longer/taller.

Pair with a striped long tee. If your vest and pants are a block colour, we just can’t go past a stripe long-sleeve tee underneath. It breaks up the blocks of colour and gives a fresh nautical touch to an otherwise wintery look. It’s a tried and trusted styling method because it simply works!

Formally. To wear a vest dressed up, it’s best to opt for the longer styles and avoid short pieces and look for lush fabrics such as a faux fur or a silky finish. Generally, avoid patterns in formal looks, but if you do love a print, keep them monochromatic as busy graphics can be less sophisticated. The rest is in the elevated extras, such as fancy footwear and don’t forget the bling!

A vest can be a beautiful addition to a formal look and handy for many places where the air conditioning is too cool.

We hope you enjoy the many ways you can wear a vest for different occasions.

All images via Pinterest

Rebecca O’Hearn has had a long career as a fashion and beauty editor at Yours, Woman’s Day and FHM magazines and has styled some of Australia’s most famous faces. Her mission now is to help women of all ages feel confident that their wardrobe and beauty choices are the best they can be. Her website,, is packed with fashion, beauty and styling tips. This article first appeared on her website.

Is a vest a wardrobe staple for you during the cooler months? Or any time?

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Written by Rebecca O’Hearn


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