3 Ways to Style a Vest

Versatility, function, fashion – vests check all the boxes when it comes to completing the ideal outfit for any outing.

6 Min. Watch | Get Outside Guide

Hi, I'm Cristina. And I'm a wardrobe stylist at the L.L.Bean headquarters here in Freeport, Maine. I'm so stoked to show you my styling tips for men and women's vests. Pops of color, layers, elevating your look, this is going to be so much fun. So when I come into the workroom, I get really inspired by the pieces that I have in it.

The textures of the fabrics, the colors that they bring, swipe, old catalogs-- it's really wonderful to be able to draw all that inspiration. And that's what I'm going to do today when we style out vest. Versatility, function, fashion, this is what vest is all about. And I'm going to show you how we do that with our two lovely models who are L.L.Bean employees, Emma and Isaiah. Hey, guys.

Hey. Hello.


I'm so excited for this. Are you guys too?


Oh my God, we're going to be vesties.


So when I style out for the catalog, we typically use neutral vests for our images. So they'll be in the blues or in the brown colorway. What I love about the versatility of L.L.Bean's puffer vest specifically is that they come in these bright, vibrant colors. As we can see here on Emma and Isaiah, they really accentuate what they have on underneath without distracting from the full look.

She's got these overalls on, which I absolutely adore. And honestly, a puffer vest with a pair of shorts, you can go from a hike and then go grab a coffee like in 2.2. But what'd also be really cool too is if you guys swapped. Because I think they might actually work the other way around too. Absolutely.

I'm not normally a person that wears yellow, but I kind of pulled it off right now.

You actually really do, yeah. I love when I see that light bulb go off. But honestly, I want you to go out and buy this outfit. And then I want photos.


So typically, people think vests are just for outerwear. What I like to do is flip it on its head. May seem a little unconventional to maybe wear it underneath a jacket or over an outerwear piece. But it's definitely universal for everyone to at least try once. Like here for instance for Isaiah, he's got this structured really simple sherpa vest, keeping it really streamlined. But why not turn it into three-piece suit by putting a jacket over it?

Having the jacket a little bit oversized and structured keeps the vest feeling really clean underneath. And the way that it's colorblocked and having a little pop of color too just gives it some dimension and really makes it feel elevated. And Emma has a structured jacket with her puffer vest over it. And what I love about the idea of layering this way is that the jacket still is the main piece, but the puffer is the hero.

It's an accessory that doesn't feel like it's overwhelming the look. But it ties in the colorways of the sweater that she has underneath, literally from the jacket color down to the chestnut of the boots. Don't be afraid to show your teeth when you smile. Yeah, there it is. Super cute. Love it. Yes, girl.

Finally, let's talk about high-low. This is a technique that I like to use to either take an outfit from casual to elevated, or from sophisticated to relax. Let me explain. This is a super casual outfit that Isaiah is wearing. Beautiful cable sweater, a T-shirt underneath, denim, really laid back and relaxed. But what really elevates this-- and this is the high portion-- is the quilting of the vest, the detail of the corduroy of the neckline. This brings it up from a more casual to a little bit more sophisticated vibe.

Emma over here, the richness of the colors of the greens, the texture of this wool, the embroidery of the sweater really makes this outfit feel extremely sophisticated. But then we add a casual vest to it. That's the low. Completely changes the look but still feels put together. Can we do it one more time, please? So we've covered color. We've covered layers. And we've covered high-low.

Honestly, that's all you need to know when it comes to styling vest. Isaiah, Emma, thank you so much. You guys were amazing today. I hope you feel really great about the looks that we did. I hope you can take some of these tips back to your friends.

Yeah, definitely. You're a stylist like every day.

Consider that done.

And we need to go shopping like now.

I guess that's our cue. Later. So what's your favorite way to wear a vest? Tell us in the comments below. For more styling tips, outdoor how-tos, and expert advice visit llbean.com/explore. Don't forget to like and subscribe.

When we first introduced our colorful collection of Trail Model Down Vests back in ‘82, we didn’t just give people a throw-on-and-go jacket alternative; we gave them a fashion statement that’s endured for decades and a versatile outerwear piece that can be styled in so many ways. Want to learn how you can live your best vest life? Try these three styling tips for men and women, courtesy of wardrobe stylist Cristina.

Tip 1. Invest in Color

Building a look around a vest is all about experimenting with color. Neutrals will almost never let you down, but even vests in bright, vibrant tones have the ability to play nice with – and even accentuate – the colors and patterns in the rest of your outfit.

Use a bold pop of color to accentuate what you’re wearing underneath without distracting from the full look.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with color – you might be surprised at what you can pull off!

Tip 2. Take a Layered Approach

People typically think of vests as outerwear, but what if we flipped that concept on its head? It may seem a little unconventional to wear a vest over a jacket or under another outerwear piece, but it’s a next-level tactic for adding warmth and style that our wardrobe stylist lives by – and you should too.

Wearing a simple vest under a slightly oversized jacket will give you a cool “three-piece suit” look, with super laid-back vibes.

Try putting a puffer over your jacket. Consider it an accessory that ties your outfit together, but won’t overwhelm the look.

Tip 3. Go High-Low

High-low is a popular styling technique that mixes casual pieces with more formal ones to give an outfit a specific mood. Vests are the perfect vehicle for dressing an outfit up or down, requiring only a couple of simple strategies to take you from a hike to brunch and beyond with almost no effort at all.

Choose a vest with classic details like quilting and corduroy to take a casual look to the next level.

Adding a more active vest can bring a sophisticated look down to earth, while still feeling totally put together.

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