A vest is a sleeveless garment that you often wear over either a short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt and under a coat. Vest stylings run the gamut, from those that are styled as a pullover or those that feature buttons or a zipper on the front. Although vests were once the domain of formal events or work functions, they now serve a purpose in a man's wardrobe as a casual, functional or fashionable garment.
Wearing a Vest
A properly-fitted vest is long enough to cover your waist, so there's no sign of a shirt peeping through between the vest and your belt area. On the other hand, a vest's cut is longer in the front, so it's acceptable for a small portion of your shirt to peek through at the sides and back. Tuck your shirt tightly and neatly into your pants so it doesn't blouse out under the vest and over your belt.
Formal vs. Casual
Vests that are a part of a three-piece suit are made from the same material as the suit's jacket and pants. Vest material may also include silk or a silk blend. These vests feature a deep V-neck and three to nine buttons in the front. If you have pockets on your suit vest, they are typically placed toward the bottom of the vest or high on the left chest. The latter is usually accompanied by a handkerchief for added flair. A more casual vest that you can also wear with a suit, the sweater vests can be worn for a number occasions. Whether to add a layer of warmth on a cool spring day or to complement your favorite pair of golf knickers, sweater vests are versatile in color, knit or pattern. Typical sweater vest material includes cotton, wool, cashmere, acrylic and fabric blends.
Vests for Activities
Outerwear vests are built for outdoor use and usually include extra pockets for added functionality. Many outerwear vests for snow and winter-related activities are made of synthetic down fibers or natural goose down and offer exceptional warmth. They may feature pockets for a ski lift pass, a cell phone or portable music player. Other outerwear vests for fishing or hunting are lightweight yet expandable. They are made of water-resistant material and include specialized pockets and webbing to hold lures or ammunition. When you're working out, weighted vests enhance athletic performance and strengthen your body. After you take off your weighted vest, your body continues to perform with the same intensity and strength as if the weight was still present. Professional athletes, firefighters and people who want to add physical resistance to their daily activities don weighted vests to aid performance.
Other Kinds of Vests
Biker vests, cowboy vests and fashion vests round out the types of men's vests available. Biker vests are made from heavy denim or leather to withstand the arduous elements of the highway; wind, sun, rain or concrete (if a spill on the road occurs). Cowboy vests are usually made of suede with fringed bottoms for visual appeal. Both biker and cowboy vests may include embroidered graphics on the the front or back. Fashion vests are lightweight and worn simply as an accessory. They serve no other purpose than to make a fashion statement and enhance your outfit. They can be solid colors or patterned, and are worn over a short-sleeved t-shirt.
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Diane Bautista has more than seven years of professional experience writing for a variety of industries including fashion retail, communications technology and nonprofit. She currently works as an advertising copywriter and holds a B.A. in English from Washington State University.