The J. Crew Factory Walker Vest is one of my most worn articles of clothing, ever. Here's why I love it, how to wear it, and a higher quality alternative.
When you buy new clothes, you never really know how much wear you're going to get out of them. This is especially true when you buy a new type of garment.
Before buying the Walker Vest, I'd never owned a lightweight, quilted vest. In fact, I'd never really owned any type of vest, other than a couple of waistcoats that came with three piece suits.
SEE ALSO: How to Layer Up With Lightweight Vests
Since J. Crew Factory is pretty affordable, and most of their stuff is always on sale for 30% off, I decided to pull the trigger on the Walker Vest, figuring it wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't like it.
Fast forward a few years, and this simple quilted vest has become one of my most worn wardrobe staples. Turns out I'm a vest guy…who knew?
J. Crew Factory Walker Vest Quality
Before I show you some examples of how I wear the Walker Vest, we need to talk about its quality. This is not the highest quality vest in the world.
In fact, it's not even close. After a couple years of hard wear, both of my Walker vests were showing signs of age.
My grey vest darkened substantially around the collar (the part of the garment that was exposed to the elements). My navy vest ripped at the bottom of the zipper one day.
Bottom line: it's a cheap article of clothing, so don't expect it to last forever. If you want a higher quality version of this vest, the Peter Manning NYC Flatiron Vest is a great choice (I wear a size 1).
J. Crew Factory vs. Mercantile
It's also worth noting that there are a couple different versions of this vest. Since J. Crew started experimenting with new branding and merging Factory items with regular sale items, it's become hard to figure out what you're buying.
What's the difference between J. Crew and J. Crew Factory? Why are we seeing Factory items in the J. Crew sale section? What is “Mercantile” anyway? Should you buy these vests on Amazon?
I know, it's really confusing and, in my opinion, sort of a weird series of moves by J. Crew. For the sake of this article, here's all you need to know:
- The vest I'm talking about is called the J. Crew Factory Walker Vest, although some of them say Mercantile on the label.
- The versions I have just say J. Crew on the label (they don't mention Factory or Mercantile).
- J. Crew has sold higher quality vests under their normal label in the past, which I haven't tried on.
I've only worn the Factory Walker Vest, so I can't really comment on the differences in quality or tell you if you more expensive version is worth the price.
If money isn't an issue, I'd probably go with the Peter Manning NYC Flatiron Vest over anything from J. Crew. If you're on a budget or aren't sure if you'll like wearing a vest, the Walker Vest is an excellent choice.
If you do buy the Walker vest, don't pay full price. It's almost always on sale, either on J. Crew's site or Amazon.
Walker Vest Outfit Examples
If you want more in-depth thoughts about wearing lightweight vests, read this article:
Or just check out these outfit examples, featuring the Factory Walker Vest:
If you just need a little warmth and want to add visual interest to your getup, this vest looks great over a long sleeve wool sweater or polo.
It really can serve as your outermost layer during spring and early fall (or winter, depending on where you live).
But I really love wearing it as a middle layer. It's so thin, so it sits perfectly under a jacket and over a shirt.
It almost acts as a zip out lining for whatever jacket you're wearing, providing just a little more warmth and texture.
I'll also wear this vest over different types of light outerwear, like a hoodie or fleece zip up.
I really like using this vest with other light layers like fleece zip ups and flannel shirts. I think the layered textures look really cool, and you get a lot of insulation without a ton of bulk.
Try On the Walker Vest
Like I mentioned above, I wouldn't buy the Walker vest for its full retail price. Wait for a sale, then grab it for at least 30% off.
If you only buy one, go for a neutral color like black or navy. Wear it well!