How-To Style Guide: Vests 3 Ways

Thankfully vests are back on trend this year, and when I say vest, I really mean is waistcoat. Vest has become the vernacular, although this term is commonly used incorrectly. Did you know, the term “vest” dates all the way back to the Ottoman Empire?! I sure didn’t.
Did you also know that vests were traditionally sleeveless jackets worn by men in women? Or how about the fact that the term for a vest-waistcoat, or “gilet”, comes from the Arabic jalīkah (a jacket worn by prisoners)?!! How crazy is that? And to think, now we wear them as a statement piece for date night!
Back to the matter at hand...vests are so incredibly versatile.
They can be dressed up or down, even worn on their own or as part of a three-piece suit! This is where the term “waistcoat” comes in because it is sleeveless, worn over a shirt, under a jacket AND should have a tie as well. Waistcoat...fancy vest...statement piece. Call it what you will. The name is way less important than how to style it.
Let’s see how to style this classic wardrobe essential!

Three-Piece Suit

The most common, and classic, way to style a vest is as part of a three-piece suit. Traditionally, vests were made to cover suspenders. They are actually a better choice than wearing a belt as belts can make your suit look cumbersome. Yikes! So don’t be afraid to toss on your cutest pair and leave the belt at home. 😉
As with any outfit, take the time to consider colors, patterns and materials. For example, pairing cool colors with warm colors will clash as would mixing certain types of patterns. The colors in your ensemble should have some similar properties to really go together – like the undertone or intensity of color.
If you’ve read my other posts, such as 7 Secret Tips for a Flawless Outfit, then you’ll know the best thing to do (ALWAYS) is to keep it simple. Make sure the pattern goes with the overall look. You wouldn’t pair a red and black flannel vest with a navy-blue suit, would you? (No. You wouldn’t.)
Also, another thing to look out for when selecting a vest for your three-piece suit is the lapel. A fully functional collar would, much like a belt, add unnecessary bulk to the ensemble. Opt for no lapel or if they’re your thing, go for one that is peak or notched.

As a Statement Piece

Another way to style that sexy new vest you got during the Prime Day Sale is to use it as a statement piece. (You didn’t miss it did you??) In this instance, you would pair your vest with slacks or chinos. Again, please please keep an eye on your colors, patterns and materials. For your sake and mine!
And don’t forget, vests hide suspenders, so ditch the bulky belt once again. If you’re not a fan of suspenders, which is totally ok, then try to find a thin belt that will do the job. Of course, if your pants don’t need any help staying up, you can avoid this part all together!
When styling a vest as a statement piece, ties are optional – unlike with a three-piece suit. This will not only keep the focus on the actual statement piece (your vest), but it can also be more comfortable for you. On the other hand, adding a tie can dress up the outfit say for the ballet or a fancy date night.


Finally, vests CAN be styled casually these days. Our society as a whole continues to move toward more casual apparel, even for special events. Therefore, all you really need are a nice pair of jeans – no holes, discoloration, please iron them, and a flattering fit – a button-down shirt and your stylish vest. Belts are ok to wear with jeans, as you should not button the bottom button of your vest, but our recommendation is to keep it slim.
Pretty easy right? I thought so too.
You may be wondering what the basic do’s and don’ts are, or if there are any that apply to all three styles. Naturally there are, and we’ve got them for you right here!


Make sure your clothing fits properly. While this may seem like an obvious suggestion, men's clothing isn’t exactly made to fit all body types; however, masculine apparel is! Search for companies, like HauteButch, who provides a tailored look, just for you. 😘
To determine a “proper fit”, check the following things:
1) Are the sleeves too big? Do they look puffy near the arm openings of your vest? If so, your shirt is too big.
2) Do your clothes feel too tight or uncomfortable? That’s because they probably are.
Adjust your vest to slightly hug your waist. There should be either buttons or a traditional cinch adjuster strap on the back to help with this.
As previously stated, save full collared vests for statement pieces. Wear them casually with jeans or dressed up with slacks or chinos, and maybe even a tie.
Your jacket should always have one more button than your vest. For example, if your vest has three buttons, then your jacket should have four.


It’s not recommended to wear a double-breasted jacket with your vest if you opt for a three-piece suit or blazer. Vests for suits (or under blazers) should always be single-breasted and visible through the neck of the jacket.
Do not pair your vest with a tee shirt or polo, and if you can, try to wear long sleeves. You can always roll them up if you get hot, which instantly increases the allure of your entire outfit.
Stay away from bulky belts and shirts that are too big or darker than your vest. A good rule of thumb is to select a shirt that is lighter than your vest and select suspenders instead of a belt when possible.
Did I miss any?? Tell me your styling tricks in the comments!