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Question: How do you wear a vest in the summertime?

Answer: Are you ready to bring the ‘90s back? Well, there’s one trend that’s retro chic and sure to stick around for seasons to come: the denim vest. Yes, in this case, sleeves are totally puffed up. So ditch them and your spring denim jacket in favor of this summertime staple. No article of clothing is quite like a vest in its simplicity, comfort and versatility. Not only can it be worn with virtually anything for an edgier look, but a denim vest can also be used for layering. Of course, you don’t have to stick with the common denim vest, as there are military-inspired or utilitarian, menswear, striped, vintage lace, faux fur and moto-style vests to add to your closet, too. But if you’re stumped on how to style a vest for summer, you’ve certainly come to the right place. Here’s how the denim vest can upgrade your wardrobe.

Back to the Basics

You already know a denim vest is great because it allows you to wear another piece under it. But what you may not realize is that it gives your entire ensemble structure, and most importantly, it hides the dreaded muffin top. Keep in mind when it comes to denim, it’s best to keep it simple. Go ahead and play with color and prints, but be careful to not over-accessorize.

Although a denim vest looks good on just about every shape and size, the devil’s in the details as far as the cut and wash. If you want a more restrained look and don’t want to show off your body, pick a longer denim vest. For a trendier and more daring approach, choose a cropped or frayed denim vest. It’s always a safe bet to go with a darker wash, because light wash or an acid wash print leans more toward the youthful side. Also, a vest with a darker wash won’t clash with most outfits. And if you’re the creative type, you can embellish a denim vest with badges or iron-on patches. But there’s a fine line between ornamentation and looking like a member of a Girl Scouts troop.

An Extra Style Boost

Whether you dress it up or down or wear it opened or closed, a vest is super easy to wear. And you can make a huge fashion statement with this must-have piece on top, depending on how you style it. Just because a vest is simple doesn’t mean your outfit has to be boring, so think outside the box beyond the classic vest layered over a sleeveless top using these style guidelines:

  • Try a vest with a simple tank and a patterned skirt for a fun, adventurous look.
  • A vest over a floor-length maxi dress or flowy skirt is a bit sassy (a la Jessica Alba below).
  • A cute duo like a vest paired with a floral sundress is sweet and charming with a bit of punk rock edge.
  • Bring your worn-in vintage or graphic tee to life with a vest layered over it along with denim cutoffs or high-waisted shorts.
  • An unexpected way to dress up a tough vest is by wearing it over a feminine, long-sleeved blouse for a night out with the girls.
  • Solid combinations like black, white and denim are classic. Go for a vest with a strapless, white lace dress, or break up a head-to-toe black ensemble with a denim vest.
  • My personal fave is a denim vest worn over a LBD.
  • When things really start to heat up—and if you’re feeling a bit naughty—you can absolutely pull off a denim vest without a top underneath, as long as the vest stays closed and is expertly tailored.

The perfect scorching temperature solution, vests are a cool (literally) way to add more dimension to your outfit. Embrace your inner rock star with a denim vest, and it won’t be long before you discover that the sleeveless topper is timeless and definitely a worthwhile investment.

Are you into vests? How would you style a vest for summer?