The lightweight vest is one of the most versatile articles of clothing for cold weather layering.
Layers look super stylish, and they're very practical. They let you add insulation to your outfit without adding too much bulk.
Plus, if you get too hot or cold, you can simply remove or add one layer.
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A typical fall outfit might include three layers: the base layer, the middle layer and the outer layer. For example:
The middle layer is crucial. Every guy needs to have a few versatile middle layers in his wardrobe. Most men default to sweaters, which makes sense because there are so many different types:
V-neck, crew neck, cotton, wool, cashmere, quarter zip, full zip, hoodie, cardigan, etc.
While sweaters make excellent middle layers, I believe that the lightweight vest is just as versatile – and often overlooked.
In fact, I find myself reaching for my lightweight vests more often than not, especially when I'm putting together a casual layered getup.
Now, there are many different types of lightweight vests, from cotton to down-filled polyester.
In terms of fit and style, my favorite vest is the J. Crew Factory Walker Vest.
It's an insulated, quilted vest, but it's not nearly as thick as most down “puffer” vests you can buy.
This makes it perfect for shorter men, as it adds visual interest and warmth without being too bulky.
This kind of lightweight vest can be worn under any light/medium weight jacket. It looks fantastic with field jackets and leather jackets.
Of course, you can also wear it as an outer layer over a button up shirt, sweatshirt or henley.
Here's one thing I love about vests: you don't have to worry about the sleeves being too long!
Just make sure the length is correct (just below the waistline), and make sure the vest fits close to the body.
Many vests (like the Walker Vest) have side adjusters that let you cinch the vest for a closer fit around the lower torso.
If you don't like the look of this vest, here are a few other options that may work better for you:
- Arc-Teryx Atom LT Vest (super thin, high quality, expensive)
- Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest (affordable, lots of color choices)
- Patagonia Classic Fleece Vest (soft, high quality, classic “outdoorsy” look)
I've tried thicker, warmer vests in the past, but the extra bulk made it impossible to use them as middle layers.
If it's that cold outside, I'll probably just wear a heavy coat like a topcoat or parka.
Do You Wear Vests?
If you've never tried layering with vests, you might want to give it a shot. If you simply don't like them, I get it. They're not for everyone. You do you!
Do you wear vests? Let me know in the comments below!