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One of the more underrated pieces of clothing in a men’s wardrobe is the vest. What once was a common piece of everyday clothing for men back in the 1920’s the vest has re-emerged to be a versatile part of men’s outfits today. They can be casually worn on their own or as a complementary piece in a suit.
If you’ve always been somewhat curious about vests in general, then you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about vests. We’ll also highlight seven of the best vests out there that can be worn in different scenarios.
After we’re done reviewing our favorite vests, we’ll let you in on some tips as to how to wear and look your absolute best in a vest. If, after all this, you still have more questions, we’ll try our best to answer them in our section of some of the most frequently asked questions men have about wearing a vest.
Let’s get started.
In A Hurry? The 7 Best Men's Vests 2019
- Best Vest Overall: Patagonia Windproof Vest For Men
- Best Vest For Fall: Howler Brothers Rounder Outdoor Vest For Men
- Best Affordable (Cheap) Vest: Columbia Fleece Hiking Vest
- Best Vest For Hiking: Arc’teryx Atom LT Vest For Men
- Best Down Vest For Men: The North Face Down Vest For Men
- Best Golf Vest For Men: Bonobos Golf Vest For Men
- Best Sweater Vest For Men: Mizzen+Main Belson Dress Vest For Men
What to Know When Buying A Vest
The first thing you need to ask yourself when buying a vest is what is your intent for wearing it? As we touched on, the vest is an underrated yet versatile piece of clothing that can be worn in many different settings. Here are just a few considerations.
Formal/Office – vests can be worn in formal settings, such as a corporate work environment. Generally speaking, you’ll want something that is comfortable to wear and the vest you choose should be lighter in fabric. You’ll want a vest that is not too flashy (i.e. pinstripes), so one with a solid color should do the trick. And if you’re working in a professional environment, you don’t want to wear a vest that is baggy or loose, so either go to your tailor to get your vest altered or purchase one that is tailored to your body type.
Casual Weekend – the vest you should rock when going out to a bar with friends or at a brunch is one that is relaxed and more textured. You’ll want a vest that provides comfort and may include patterns such as checkers and stripes, to name a few.
Outdoors – outdoor vests can be an ideal piece of clothing for keeping you warm. These vests are much thicker than the previous two and offer some thermal insulation to keep the cold out. They also tend to have a more rugged shell to be able to withstand the outdoor elements.
Formal – when you hear the term three-piece suit, the third piece of the suit often refers to the vest. For these vests, the materials are thinner and tend to be of a solid color without any sort of patterns or styles.
The material of the vest itself is a good indicator of its quality. There are a variety of materials of which vests are made of. Let’s take a look at them.
Polyester/Fleece – great for the outdoors, the polyester or fleece vests are wind-resistant, quick to dry when it gets wet, and very easy to wash.
Proprietary Blends – this includes a combination of materials that is blended into one name. An example of this is Primaloft, who have a patent on creating a synthetic microfiber thermal insulation material. This material is primarily used in vests that are meant for the outdoors.
Wool – vests made of wool are naturally very breathable and good for many occasions. This fabric has moisture wicking qualities which allows you to retain heat in the vest while drawing sweat away from the body.
Down – down vests are composed of layers of fine feathers under the shell of the vest. If you plan on going for a hike up a mountain, down vests are good at keeping you warm and will provide you with excellent insulation. The only downside is that after a bit of wear and tear, you might notice some feathers start to naturally fall out between the seams of the vest.
Cotton – one of the more natural fabrics that is breathable and light is cotton. However, it’s not a fabric you’ll generally find in vests because they’re usually meant for outerwear as opposed to directly on skin (i.e. a tank, a t-shirt, etc).
Vests are an uncomplicated piece of clothing to wear and thankfully, there are only two ways of closing it up.
Zipper – the traditional zip-up method of closing your vest is the most common, casual, and convenient option.
Button – the button-up look is more commonly found in formal vests and tend to present a much more dapper look.
4. Collar Height
Some vests have collars that extend all the way up to the neck. These vests are normally for outerwear and they provide a bit of extra style. How you wear it depends on your personal preference, really. Some men choose to wear the collar straight up while others prefer to have it folded down.
Aside from keeping your neck warm, the collar doesn’t really have much functionality and should really just be seen as some added style to the vest.
It’s not imperative that vests have some sort of logo or brand identifier on them. It serves no purpose to the vest aside from letting others know what company made that particular vest.
However, the emergence of vests as a fashionable and trendy piece of clothing has led some to become a symbol of status. A good example of this are Patagonia vests.
As a company that prides itself on the sustainable and ethical production of clothing, owning a Patagonia vest is associated with men who work within the financial services industry. Now, not every man who owns a Patagonia vest works in finance, the perception, however, does exist.
While some men prefer showing off the brand name of their vests, other vests, have no such logos or markings on them. These vests tend to be more formal and the inclusion of such a marking would be considered a fashion faux pas.
If we’re being honest here, when it comes to the usefulness of vests, there aren’t a whole lot of reasons. That being said, men who choose to wear vests aren’t looking for it to do wonders for them. Men choose to wear vests today as a fashion statement more than anything else.
If you’re wearing a vest that’s more inclined for outdoor activities, you may find that it helps to keep your body warm. Most outerwear vests will come with side pockets which you’ll be able to fit most everyday items in, such as your car keys, mobile phone, and wallet.
Formal vests however, may or may not have side or chest pockets. If they do have these, they are simply there for a splash of style and you should not expect to fit much or anything in there at all.
When it comes to the fit of the vest itself, unfortunately, there’s little variance. Purchasing a vest is unlike buying a dress shirt or blazer where you’ll have the luxury of moving up half an inch for dress shirts or moving down from a size 42 to 40 for suits.
For vests that will be worn in more formal settings, such as a corporate office, you’ll want to find a vest with a more tailored look. Having this form fitted vest will give off a more professional appearance and ensure you’re wearing a vest that wraps comfortably around your torso.
For outdoor vests, they typically come in regular sizes (i.e. small, medium, large, etc) and the size you choose to wear should be comfortable for you.
If you’re purchasing a vest online, a good rule of thumb is to check out that company’s recommended size guides. Not all companies create their vests the same and you’ll want to ensure the right size for your particular body.
For example, one company may recommend moving up one size for men with athletic builds so that it won’t be too tight around your chest or mid-section regions.
As we touched upon earlier, the vest is now being utilized more and more as a versatile piece of clothing in men’s fashion. The last few years have seen men’s vests become a symbol of status for some and because of this, prices have started to significantly increase.
Generally, vests tend to range in price from around $25 to $150. From basic vests to designer brand name ones, you’ll find any and all vests within this price range.
The 7 Best Vests for Men of 2019 Reviewed
1 Best Vest Overall: Patagonia Windproof Vest For Men
As we touched on earlier, a premium brand and one that is leading the way for a fashionable choice in men’s vests, is Patagonia.
The Patagonia Windproof Vest for Men is exactly what it sounds like: a high-quality choice for preventing those chilly breezes from making you feel cold in this well-composed, plush fleece vest. It has a zip-up closure that can go all the way to the top of your neck, providing you with more warmth.
There are three different color options to choose from but aside from that, there’s not much in the way of intricate patterns or designs with this vest.
We also mentioned earlier that owning a Patagonia vest means you’re probably in finance and while that may not necessarily be 100% true, the intent of owning one is to flash a bit of style and show off as it proudly displays that Patagonia logo just above the left side of the chest.
If you are in finance, you’ll benefit knowing that you’ll be able to keep your work near you at all times as this vest includes two front and one chest pocket. Perfect places to keep your mobile phone in.
Premium quality products from premium brands will cost you and so be prepared to pay top dollar for one of the best overall vests out there for men.
- Made of premium materials
- Fully windproof
- Style is expensive
2 Best Vest For Fall: Howler Brothers Rounder Outdoor Vest For Men
The Howler Brothers Rounder Outdoor Vest for Men is one that draws its inspiration from “the courageous cowboys of the wild west.” It sports a familiar cowboy look with its dual-colored, rugged design.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a cowboy to wear this vest. It features a button-up closure that goes up to the top of your neck. The neck area has a stand-up collar which can also be folded down according to your style preference.
If you’re looking for a vest to keep you warm and is breathable, you’ll be glad to know that this will do a good job of providing your body with insulated protection.
This vest does come in two distinct colors, with the body of the shell comprising the primary color while the upper chest and collar regions showing a secondary color. There are three different bi-color variations you can get and they are all fairly different from each other.
If you’re inspired by the cowboy style and want a solid, lightweight, breathable vest, the Howler Brothers Rounder Outdoor Vest for Men is a worthwhile option. Just know that you’ll be spending closer to the higher end of the price range that we outlined in the previous section.
- Throwback, cowboy style
- Sturdy, stand-up collar
- Provides insulated protection
- A bit pricey
- Not many color variations
3 Best Affordable (Cheap) Vest: Columbia Fleece Hiking Vest
One of the more trusted names in providing dependable outerwear for men, Columbia has been a mainstay in this arena for decades. And it’s no different with the Columbia Fleece Hiking Vest.
This vest is most notable for being very durable and very affordable as well. That shouldn’t take away from the fact that this vest is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a no-frills kind of vest.
It’s very simple in design with a full zip closure that extends to the top of the neck area. It is made of 100% polyester that is soft to the touch and comes with two handy side pockets that are also a zip-up.
With this vest, you’re not exactly trying to impress anyone or flash any style. Rather, you’re buying this because it’s a great addition to your wardrobe and is a nice complementary piece of clothing to wear on a leisurely or long hike.
You won’t have any problems finding a color you like as there are 20 different colors that also come in different designs as well. They range from solid colors to ones with various patterns and designs.
If you’re on a small budget for a solid, regular vest, you should absolutely consider the Columbia Fleece Hiking Vest.
- Fantastic value buy
- Simplistic design
- Lots of color and pattern choices
- Lacks any sort of style
- Doesn’t have any standout features
4 Best Vest For Hiking: Arc’teryx Atom LT Vest For Men
Arcteryx is a premium outerwear brand from Canada that has really captured the belief of consumers when it comes to top-end, outerwear products. They are known for their forward-thinking designs and high-quality products and that’s what you get with the Arcteryx Atom LT Vest for Men.
Much like wearing a Patagonia vest, wearing an Arcteryx vest is very much about the quality of the vest as well as the Arcteryx logo on it.
This high-end vest is made up of a combination of materials including fleece, nylon, polyester, and elastane, to give it a slight bit of stretch.
To say this vest fits comfortably would be an understatement. With Arcteryx’s own Coreloft insulation, this vest retains heat in the core and hugs the body to preserve warmth while the fleece in the side panels help to provide enhanced ventilation. The result is an incredible vest that keeps you warm and provides breathability.
Patterns and different designs aren’t really what Arcteryx is known for so you’ll only be able to buy this vest in a solid color. This vest can be purchased in five different colors, and mostly on the darker scale of colors. But in buying this premium-quality vest, expect to pay right at the high end of the pricing range.
- Made of combination of best materials
- Features their patented Coreloft insulation
- Side panels enables your body to breathe while retaining heat
- Not much color selection and only comes in darker colors
5 Best Down Vest For Men: The North Face Down Vest For Men
Another trusted and familiar name in outerwear fashion is North Face. Making more than just outerwear, the North Face brand encompasses many different products including backpacks, jackets, and apparel, to name a few.
But in terms of vests, you’re getting one of the more stylish ones around with the North Face Down Vest for Men. This vest was born out of their wildly popular Aconcagua jacket and is the vest version of that jacket.
The Down Vest is a really simple and sleek-looking vest that is made with a regular fit with just a tad bit more breathing space in the chest and torso area.
Like many, but not all, North Face products, this vest comes in the familiar all black color with the white North Face logo in the left chest area. It’s made of 100% polyester and the big feature of this vest is that it is fully lined with down feathers.
In terms of style, this vest sports something the previous four does not: parallel bubbles. This does little if anything but add a stylish element to the vest.
In buying this vest, you’re paying for the brand name and an incredibly slick and trendy product. This is a great value buy as it is priced somewhere in the medium range of prices for vests.
- Down feathers in vest helps keep you warm
- More spacious in the chest and torso area
- Good value
- Only comes in one color
6 Best Golf Vest For Men: Bonobos Golf Vest For Men
If you’re out playing a round of golf with some buddies and you find yourself a wee bit chilly, then you might want to consider the Bonobos Golf Vest for Men.
While it doesn’t sport any fancy features like moisture-wicking capabilities it does, however, provide you with something lightweight and comfortable to wear while you’re out golfing.
This really simple and elegant vest is made of 100% polyester and there’s not much substance in terms of style with this vest. One notable aspect of this vest, that we haven’t seen in the other vests we’ve reviewed, is that the Bonobos logo is displayed on the back of the neck collar and not in the usual top-left chest area we’re used to seeing.
If you’re looking for some pockets to carry your golf balls and tees, there are two, open side pockets on this vest with a full zip closure in the front. On the inside, it is very comfortable as it is lined with fleece material.
This vest only comes in the one, navy heather color and it is an affordable option, especially if you only plan on using it on the links, as it is priced right in the middle of our range.
- Light and comfortable
- Different style with logo placed on back of neck
- Warm fleece material on the inside
- Only comes in one color
- Doesn’t have any standout features
7 Best Sweater Vest For Men: Mizzen+Main Belson Dress Vest For Men
Established in 2012 and relatively new to the fashion scene, Mizzen+Main is known for making performance menswear. From dress shirts to blazers, Mizzen+Main has made our list with their Belson Dress Vest for Men.
It’s all about the details and quality with this vest. Providing superior comfort, it is composed of a blend of materials including 55% cotton and 45% modal. It is incredibly soft to the touch, is easy to dry, and features heat-absorbing and wind-resistance qualities. All fantastic stuff if you plan on wearing this everyday at work over your dress shirt.
It’s a full zip closure vest that comes with two side pockets which you can casually tuck your hands in.
If you prefer your style to fly under the radar, you’ll love the subtle style with this one. It has a very unassuming, single-color, checkered pattern on it that provides just a splash of style but is not over the top by any means.
The Belson Charcoal Heather only comes in the one grey color and we’re not sure if the subtle checkered pattern would really be all that noticeable with any other color. So, despite the one color, it is probably the best color for this vest.
If you’re okay with spending a bit more for a vest loaded with great features that you can easily wear everyday, then go ahead and splurge on this vest that is on the higher end of our pricing scale.
- Great, subtle style
- Dries quickly
- Absorbs heat and is wind-resistant
- Only one color
How To Care For & Wear A Vest
1. When Washing Always Follow Care Instructions
When it comes to washing clothing, men often get a bad rap for often throwing it in the washer and dryer without really paying attention to the settings. While it may be tempting to do that with your vest, we’re here to advise you that you absolutely need to read the care instructions. When researching a variety of vests, here are some general care instructions that you will need to be mindful of:
Variety of fabrics – not all vests are made from the same kind of fabrics. Some are made with a blend of materials, while others are made of 100% polyester. Therefore, you should be diligent about reading the tag before cleaning as instructions will vary from one vest brand to the next.
Regular Washer/Dryer – if your vest is made of cotton and or polyester, it should be safe to wash it in a washer or dryer.
Washer (No Dryer) – wool is a good example of a fabric that is okay to be washed in your washing machine but is not okay to be dried in your dryer. You’ll often have to either hang or lay flat when drying.
Dry Clean Only – there will be the odd vest that requires you to wash it at the dry cleaners only. This is often found in down or hybrid blend vests that may contain animal fibers such as cashmere.
2. Match Your Vests With The Right Clothes
Vests are a unique piece of clothing in that they usually will never be the focal point of your outfit. But, given that it’s so prominent to the viewers eye, you should still give a minute or two to think what you can wear in your wardrobe that will complement it well.
Here are a few suggestions based on some different scenarios:
Rugged Outdoor Vests for Camping/Hiking – for those trips into the wilderness, wearing a vest that is durable and warm enough for the outdoors is key. But it shouldn’t be your main source of warmth either.
The vest should be comfortably worn here as a complementary piece to your warmer clothes underneath.
Sweater Vests or Semi-Formal Vests – if you find yourself debating about what to wear to that dinner party, consider a sweater vest or a semi-formal vest. These vests are a great addition to an outfit consisting of a button-down shirt, chino pants, and your choice of loafers or dress shoes.
Casual Vests – for more casual outings like a birthday party at a restaurant, consider wearing a casual vest with your outfit. Typically, this casual outfit will consist of something resembling a button-down or long-sleeve shirt, jeans, and leather or canvas shoes.
3. Where To Find Vest Inspiration
There are many different ways to rock the vest. If you’re stuck on how to wear a vest or what to wear with it, consider seeking some sources of inspiration. Two of the best ways to find out how to wear your vest is by taking a look at Instagram and Pinterest boards. These two platforms are tremendous resources for different styles and ways to confidently wear this unique piece of clothing. If you’re on Instagram, consider searching for the following hashtags to find some ideas:
For those that prefer using Pinterest, you might want to check out the following links to some creative boards:
The following are questions that are most frequently asked when it comes to vests. Let’s take a look at some of the common ones.
What are the best vest brands?
We reviewed seven different vests from seven different brands and each are unique in their own right. Thus, determining what the best vest brand is comes down to what your preferences are and is quite subjective. While we won’t recommend one brand over another, as there are just too many things to consider, we say, that whatever works best for your needs is the best brand. But as we saw in the previous section, some of the more notable brands include:
- Howler Brothers
Where is the best place to buy a vest?
There are a few sources from where you can purchase a vest. You can easily buy one directly from the company that produces the vest themselves. Most, if not all, companies sell their vests either in their physical store or online on their websites.
Another great source for buying vests, and sometimes at a lower price than the original manufacturer’s website, is from online clothing merchant websites. Some of these online retailers include Mr. Porter, Nordstrom, Huckberry, and Macy’s, to name a few. A few of the links we provided from some of the vests we reviewed will take you directly to these websites.
What are the different types of vests?
Men don’t often think of vests being a versatile addition to their wardrobe. But they really should be considered this way. You can easily wear a vest in just about any given situation and the different types of vests allude to this. There are primarily three types of vests.
Jacket Vests – these are the ones we mostly took a look at in our review of the best ones out there. We think very highly of these because they can be worn in a number of different situations and for different reasons. They can be worn as outerwear, much like a jacket, and are the perfect item to throw on when fall hits and it starts to get chilly outside. When winter rolls around, these jacket vests help to provide that extra layer of warmth as well.
Suit Vests – the third piece in a three-piece suit, suit vests are a dapper addition to your traditional suits. They are generally made of the same materials as your suit jacket and pants and help to provide a nice bridge between the two. In some situations, you can even lose the suit jacket and just rock the vest and suit pants look.
Casual Vests – think of your favorite folk band or singer (i.e. Mumford & Sons, Lumineers, etc) and chances are, they might be wearing a casual vest. They are usually made of tweed or wool materials and are commonly worn in casual settings.
How We Chose The Best Vests
In our research of choosing the best vests, we looked at a number of factors that we outlined in the first section to help us make our determination. Some of those factors might have had a bit more weight than others but nonetheless, we tried to look at the vest in its totality to figure out if it would make our list. The factors we identified as important included:
Intent – this one was easy as all but one of the vests we reviewed were outdoor vests.
Materials – the fabric and composition of the vest was important because it helped us determine whether or not it was made with quality materials. Some were made with just one type of fabric like polyester, while others included a blend of different materials.
Closure – was it a zip-up or button-up closure?
Collar Height – some vests have collars that go up to the top of your neck whereas some end at the bottom of your neck. Having a vest with a collar can offer warmth to your neck but not much else.
Style/Pattern/Color Choices – we found an array of vests with different styles, each distinctive in their own way. A good example was the cowboy-inspired vest by Howler Brothers. We also looked for vests that had different patterns and color choices as well but as we found with some vests, in particular the Mizzen+Main Belson Dress Vest, less was definitely more.
Fit – when it came down to fit, outdoor vests generally come in your normal small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. Some vests had a bit more room in the chest area and we looked at that as well.
Utility – since most of the vests we reviewed were outdoor vests, they generally served a purpose of keeping men well-insulated. Some provided a bit more functionality in terms of moisture-wicking features but aside from staying warm, there wasn’t much else in the way of utility.
So, there you have it. In this comprehensive guide, we took you on a journey of what to look for in a vest for men and we pinpointed seven of the best ones to buy. The key takeaway of this deep dive is that vests are a nifty and underrated addition to your wardrobe. It can be used in an array of situations and can add a nice touch of style to your outfits.