This Vest Could Change Everything (So Here's How To Not Eff It Up)

If blazers were your secret weapon for pulling everything together last year, the vest is going to your thing this year. Not only does it provide an extra layer of warmth without adding much bulk, but it's a piece that truly deserves that "versatile" prefix. Wear it with a sundress in the summertime, a tissue-thin turtleneck and jeans in the fall, a chunky knit and leather skirt in the winter, and a bateau tee and boyfriend jeans in spring. It could be your constant companion, if only you finally got it together and picked one up. However — and this is important — this vest we're talking about is a very specific one. Pick just any old thing off the racks, and you might end up looking like an amateur magician on her day off. To not mess this up, heed the following steps:
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Why You Need It: Like we said, it's versatile, functional, and quickly elevates an otherwise plain ensemble.
Non-Negotiables: The vest must be long. Like, past-your-hips long. The shape should be boxy enough that it doesn't pucker and pull when you button it, and the shoulder seam should go nearly all the way down the length of your shoulder. Anything less will give you Drunk Best Man vibes. As far as the lapel is concerned, look for cues from the blazers you own. If you can rock something wider, feel free to go big and bold with your vest. Lapel-less blazers and skinny, tuxedo lapels also work for someone whose style is more minimal. And, like blazers, choose a vest with one or two buttons. Never three.
The Dud Versus Damn Distinction: It's really about the boxiness. You want something that's long and lean, but still oversized. Leave the shrunken, cinched vests for another time.
How Much To Invest: Since this is a piece that's on the trendier side, you can get away with spending less on it (if you do, opt for a darker color like black or navy, which can mask lower-quality construction). But, if you plan on promoting it to the coveted front section of your closet, be prepared to dole out some change. Just because it's missing arms doesn't mean it's easy to make, and some can easily cost more than $1,000. For that reason, we think that a mid-priced vest — between $80 - $120 — will get you that perfect fit for a reasonable price.
Brands That Do It Well: Zara is great for affordable options. 3.1 Phillip Lim, Helmut Lang, and Theory all make beautiful designer versions.
DIY Potential: High. Take a boxy, oversized blazer you don't wear anymore to the tailor, and have them hack off the sleeves. It's a simple solution that's hard to mess up.
Thrifting Potential: Low. You could also tailor a blazer (which you'll find lots of), but finding this sort of vest will be difficult, as it's a more modern silhouette.
Shopping Hacks: When searching for one online, make sure you always type in "sleeveless blazer," in case you're turning up empty-handed.
Go The Extra Mile: Getting it in a double-breasted or moto-jacket style, or opting for some color or texture. Fuzzy camel wool vests are extremely popular these days, but an electric blue hue will be a statement that'll serve you well in countless situations.
Bonus Styling Tip: There are countless ways to wear a sleeveless blazer like this, but we like to stick to a minimal color palette and clean, single-hued basics.
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