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The Compass  /  Ask a Black Lapel StylistStyle  /  How to Wear a Vest Casually

How to Wear a Vest Casually

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Q: “Enjoyed your How to Dress Down Your Suit Jacket story. Do you have any tips for wearing a vest casually?” – Patrick N. 
A: 

Often we get asked about how to wear a vest with a suit and we’ve written a whole article about how to wear a vest with a suit the modern way but we’ve also got some tips on wearing a vest casually. So go ahead and give that suit jacket or blazer a day off and give that vest a little moonlighting as a stand-alone piece. In fact, a vest can be a perfect candidate for achieving that dressy-but-not-too-serious-and-still-looking-better-than-99%-of-the-room look at the next after work social.

Here are a couple of our favorite ways to wear a vest for that casual, weekend warrior look:

How to wear a vest casually: Give the vest the spotlight.
  1. Give the Suit Jacket a Rest – Leave the jacket at home and wear that vest with a well-fitting button-down shirt and some suit pants. For an even more relaxed look, opt for a more casual button down like an oxford or a chambray. And if you’re knotting up, reach for something a little laid back like a knit or cotton tie, rather than a more formal silk tie. Feel free to keep your shirt collar unbuttoned with a loosened up tie knot to let people know you’ve switched from work mode to play mode.
  2. Go Vest + Jeans – If you’re pairing your vest with some jeans, you want to go for a dark wash with no fancy fades, major whiskering, holes or bagginess. Make sure the denim is a slimmer fit, so it’s consistent with your vest. With the right pair of jeans, you can achieve a smart casual look and avoid a jarring juxtaposition between dressy and casual. You never want to look business on top and over-relaxed on the bottom.

And please don’t attempt to pull off some 3-piece hybrid like this, which will make you look like you lost your pants and had to borrow some jeans from your dad.

As for the vest itself, make sure it fits snug, with the length long enough that the sides reach to your belt line. And remember to leave that last vest button unbuttoned.

So give your vest a chance to shine. It’s a great way to add some versatility to your outfit. Mix and match, get creative and see what you can come up with!

Got any questions or outfit suggestions on wearing a vest casually? Leave a comment below! 

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295 thoughts on “How to Wear a Vest Casually”

  1. I am looking for a personal smart-casual signature outfit to display a mix of competence and approachability. I think that white shirt (knitted tie or none – depending on the occasion), vest and chino would be an appropriate decision.
    The problem: I am carrying 5-10 kg more than I probably should but want to look good – nonetheless.
    What I like: Light brown shoes, navy chinos and rolled up shirt sleeves.
    The question: Do you have any suggestions or hints regarding color combinations and pattern of the vest?
    Thank you!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ll start with this: what color combinations and patterns you wear should be determined by what you look like, Phil. We call it dressing from the inside out and we recommend reading this article laying out the basics when building your wardrobe. Knowing what looks good on you is the key to dressing well.

      You did mention carrying a little extra weight. It’s a common problem. If you’ve got the look for it, which you can now figure out because you know how to dress from the inside out, then go with darker colors like navy or charcoal gray. While a brighter colored vest might call attention to your midsection, dark colors can slim your appearance.

  2. I am taking my Wife, daughter and her fiancee on a cruise in September to the Caribbean. I want to wear something other than a sports coat and slacks. I would like to wear a vest and a bow tie with some casual slacks for the dressier dinners. I am completely lost as to what would work together or what colors to go with. Maybe some slim cut slacks and a white button down fitted shirt? What would you do?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This sounds like a decent problem to have :) First off, we just want to say kudos to you for wanting your clothes to fit properly. A man after our own heart. Also, you’re on the right track with a white button down shirt and it’ll look especially good with a fresh tan. A white shirt will also match with a variety of different colored slacks. In fact, it may be smart to bring more than one white button down shirt. As for slacks, a pair of navy and khaki/tan are a solid base that should get you through most occasions on your cruise. Enjoy the vaca, Jeff.

  3. I am having a civil ceremony with my fiancée of which I will be wearing the same color and clothing type pictured above. White cloth dress shirt, medium grey vest, dark denim jeans, medium brown belt and medium brown shoes, my question would be for a tie choice. I would like to wear a tie but unsure on which to choose. Plain or simple pattern and do I match the tie to a dark color to my jeans or a light brown for my shoes or keep it a simple semi-light color to contrast my vest and shirt. Making sure not to blend the colors or completely having a dark bottom with light top as you said in your article.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Your thinking is on the right track here. As for what to match the tie color to, we think you should decide between matching to your denim or your shoes. If you choose to match to your denim, a plain or patterned tie will work equally as well. We like this dark blue knit tie with pink polka dots—it’s a little more fun, but still smart casual. If you aren’t a polka dot guy, you can stick to stripes. If you decide you want to match your tie to your brown shoes instead, we also have a tie for that. In this color family, we think you should stick to a solid colored tie. Just to throw in one last wildcard, what about this maroon tie? :)

  4. I am getting married soon and was wondering if a vest would look good. I am wearing a dark blue shirt with a light green bow tie and gray pants. The wedding is super laid back but I want to look good for my bride. Would a vest be a good option and if so what color?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Wanting to look good for you bride—good man, we applaud that. And trust us, she will too. Anyways, we see lots of guys get married in vests and they look good doing it. Determining if a vest is a good option for you depends on the other elements of your outfit. Your dark blue shirt is a little limiting (we usually recommend a white shirt under a vest), but you do have a few options. Are you gray pants dress pants or chinos? If they’re dress pants, we recommend choosing a vest in the same gray color. If your gray pants are more chino-like, you could wear a more casual vest, like this one, to smooth the transition between your shirt and pants. Be careful not to start adding too many colors to your look since you have a green bow tie. You don’t want your outfit to end up looking messy. Congrats and good luck on the big day!

  5. When wearing a vest formally with chinos, can you wear a vest with a buckle? If not, I can’t find one in any stores without one!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Even a Black Lapel custom made vest includes a closure in the back to adjust the fit to your taste, Erica. We don’t shop in stores much (why would we when we make everything custom for ourselves?) but we’d be skeptical of any vest that didn’t offer any adjustment in the back.

      If you’re really not into the look, you could always take your vest to your tailor and have them remove it.

  6. Dwayne B. says:

    I just stumbled upon this site and I must say I am impressed. I’m getting married in June and was wondering if dark jeans would go with a white button down shirt topped off with a black/ charcoal vest. We were originally going to go with a khaki type colored vest but the color combinatios just didn’t look right to me. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’ve got the idea, Dwayne, just got to narrow the focus.

      Imagine the vests you’ve considered on a spectrum from lightest (khaki) to darkest (black/charcoal). The khaki won’t work because it’s so light it can blend in with a white shirt. With dark pants and such a light top you cut yourself in half visually with this kind of look. On the other end of the spectrum, a black/charcoal vest doesn’t provide enouch contrast with dark denim and you start to look like you’re wearing overalls. The answer is to choose a fabric that is in the middle of these two extremes.

      The cool gray custom vest in the picture at the top of this article is a perfect middle ground between too light and too dark. In fact, the photo at the top is pretty much exactly what you’re planning to wear (dark jeans and a white shirt), so we’ve pretty much done the work for you by helping you to see how the whole outfit looks together in that photo. Pretty nice, huh?

  7. I am getting married in Ireland in September. I purchased an irish brown tweed vest (waistcoat) with a brown satin back, an off-white/vanilla dress shirt and brown slacks. The brown slacks are more of a bark brown which blends nicely with the front of the tweed vest but the brown satin back of the vest is a more red brown. He will not be wearing a jacket. Does this matter? I am unaware of rules regarding vest back and pant color.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Fear not, Amanda, there aren’t any rules to worry about in this situation. The colors you described in the different parts of the clothes are all in the same family. That makes clashing nearly impossible. Unlike him, you can have a look at him in his wedding outfit before the big day. So we recommend you have him put it all on and take a look. If anything stands out or looks off, you’ll see it then, but we doubt that will happen.

      Now go out there and knock ’em dead in your dress!

  8. Loved your suggestions they are very helpful. I am getting married in August ordered vests on line for the groom and groomsmen they are more of a kakhi color then a brown. (Not exactly what we wanted but the sale was final). I am having a hard time figuring out what color of dress pant to go with our now Kakhi vests. It is a very smart casual wedding.

    Please help!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Smart casual, very cool wedding dress code. Speaking of smart, how about medium to dark blue dress pants? A pair like these, with hints of green, would be easy to pair with a lighter khaki colored vest. We wouldn’t recommend a brighter shade of blue, because too much contrast could take away from your smart casual appeal.

  9. plat kapal bki says:

    liked your article post keep working splendid job very energetic blog good luck

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Glad we could help. Be sure to subscribe to our email list so you won’t miss an article.

  10. Joseph Brown says:

    I have to dress up for court next week and I want to appear confident but not arrogant, cool but not “hey look at me” and I definitely loathe going in too formal or stuffy. So I ordered a coral haze micro stripe slim fit dress shirt with slim fit charcoal slacks and a 2″ burgundy polka dot tie. I’m wondering will this complete the look or should I go with a light gray pima cotton sweater vest? I’m open to any suggestions on the color of the sweater vest

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Court calls for conservative power suits. Like this subtle gray pinstripe suit or the classic navy blue suit—an appropriate staple suit that should never be confused for being stuffy. Incorporating coral and burgundy already pushes the boundaries of court-appropriate attire slightly, so we encourage you to wear a full suit instead of a sweater vest. You could wear the sweater vest if this is your signature cool factor, but then you’ll definitely want to wear a full suit. If you go with the light gray sweater vest, we suggest you wear a matching charcoal gray jacket with your charcoal slacks. Now go do justice by these suggestions!

  11. Hello, neat websites you’ve gotten presently.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks! Have you checked out our suits? We think they’re pretty neat as well.

  12. I was thinking a matching charcoal vest and pants, with possibly a red/burgundy shirt no tie? Or if tie is worn what color do you suggest? And so you think the vest shirt combo is good.

    1. The vest and shirt combo is good, but it is a heavy look. Since those colors are dark, I would stick with the simple rule of contrast when choosing a tie. A light gray, textured tie (wool, knit) would be a great addition to this look.

  13. I was wondering if you could recommend wearing a long-sleeved shirt(not dress shirt) or even a sweater/turtleneck with a vest.

    1. Any non-collared shirt under a vest can look a little odd, Jack. Art Carney did it all the time on The Honeymooners but just like you shouldn’t trust everything you hear on TV, you shouldn’t wear everything you see on TV. We’re not fans of this look.

      We have seen the turtleneck and vest done well by a more modern screen star, but that was a dressier look overall. The three-piece suit with a turtleneck can be really suave. Just avoid adding a gold chain or you’ll end up on the next Lonely Island album.

  14. I wanted to know if I’m wearing a charcoal grey vest and dark royal blue shirt if I should wear grey pants or black pants? The shirt is solid. I wasn’t sure if it looks okay with three different colors. It’s for a work function.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Before we get into pants, some advice about the shirt: Beware the dark shirt and vest combination. There won’t be enough contrast between the shirt and vest and the whole look will come off muddled. You’re better off with a pale blue or white shirt and a charcoal gray vest.

      As for the pants, gray is more vesatile than black (you can wear black or brown shoes with gray pants), so we usually veer towards gray. Plus, black can be very jarring against bright colors, but with gray pants you can wear a wider range of colors.

      Glad we could help, now go out there and show your co-workers what’s what.

  15. Hello,

    With a vest (Grey) and long chino’s (Sand), is the shirt able to be white with small, not too outstandish patterns?

    Thank you.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You didn’t mention the color or type of pattern on the shirt but, actually, it doesn’t really matter. The neutral and solid vest and chinos combo means just about anything is possible. Go forth!

  16. Hi there ! :) I really liked what you have mentioned above of vests. Our School Promnight is coming up next week. I am of 17 years with a thin yet fit build. And I am planning to go with a Navy Blue Vest, Dark Blue Jeans along with a pair of White Sneakers on which my good friend would be drawing and designing on it. Could you please suggest a good shirt color that would match the above-said attire ? Also, necktie or bowtie (if required and of what color) ?
    Thank you so much for your help 😀
    Show the world it’s beauty :)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re going to suggest a white shirt with this outfit to give you a cool, crisp look for your prom night. As for adding a neck or bow tie, it’s not required. If you want to step up the formality of your look a little bit, go with a neck tie. You can have some fun with the color of it — maybe a blue pattern, maroon, or dark green. Show the world your beautiful outfit!

  17. Can I wear a vest unbuttoned with jeans and a t shirt

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Of course you can, Jeff. How will it look on you? That we can’t say.

      To get a sense of how it will look, it’s a look that was worn by Art Carney in his portrayal of Ed Norton on The Honeymooners (pictured here). If you’re a tall slim guy going for that 40s working-class Brooklynite look, a vest with a T-shirt might be the way to go.

  18. What if I wear a long sleeve button down untucked with my vest unbuttoned? I am currently wearing a black and white small, checkered shirt with a black vest, black jeans, and black leather converse.

    1. Are you wondering if we’re down with untucked shirts and unbuttoned vests? Nope. Sorry, not our thing, but we respect your right to rock that look.

  19. First I would like to say that I love the atmosphere of the commenters here. Great job everyone! I work as a network specialist (help desk plus technician plus network administrator) and also own my own game studio. The usual outfit for work has been “dress pants and dress shirt” but I would love to start adding a vest. I found one that fit comfortably and I am trying it out. While I and my wife like the look, most sites I read say it’s a no-no so I was curious on your thoughts.

    I also have a habit of rolling up my dress sleeves to the elbow as I HATE the feeling of sleeves on my arms. Furthermore I don shoulder length dark hair and a red beard (length varies by season). While I don’t honestly care what others may think of my attire, I would rather not spend time defending my choices.

    Any advice or assurances would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Wearing a nonmatching vest (aka an “odd waistcoat”) is a classic style move that’s been pulled off by many a stylish man over the years, so we don’t know who these jokers are who have been advising against vests but we say disregard.

      Actually, you already mentioned the only people who truly matter when it comes to judging your style: you and your wife. If you like the look, and she agrees, you’ve got something. We say go forth!

  20. Hi, we’re having a school party next week. And i am not sure if my attire coordinates with one another. I am planning to wear a grey shirt, black vest, a black pants, black shoes and a white bow. Does that sounds okay?

    1. We’d suggest easing up on the dark colors and going with a white shirt instead of a gray. A white bow tie should be reserved for a very formal white tie affair (like the Nobel Prize Ceremony or a coronation). Since you’re going without a jacket, go for a more casual bow tie like this gray one to keep your outfit cohesive.

  21. Hey, I have a question
    1 Can I wear a vest keeping my shirt out?

    2 And can I wear a printed shirt with it?

    1. Let us preface our answer by saying that, you can wear whatever you want. We give recommendations, not condemnations.

      That said, we don’t recommend wearing a vest with an untucked shirt. That would make you look like your vest had some sort of growth coming out of the bottom.

      As for a printed shirt with a vest, sure, why not?

  22. Pingback: 27 Unspoken Suit Rules Every Man Should Know | Watch!
  23. Hi! Sorry for “reviving” this article months later!
    I just have this doubt… I’m going to attend my best friend’s mother birthday. We’ve never met before and I want to make an impression, tho I can’t wear something super elegant as it’s not something “big” at all so I’m looking forward to wear a vest I’ve only used once. It’s black with some green and gray rhombs. Last time I wore a black shirt and a green tie but now I wanna pair it with a gray tie, a fitting pair of jeans and a white shirt… the question is… my shirt is short sleeved. I personally find it comfortable, and I know it doesn’t look “professional” wearing a short sleeved shirt with a tie but of course that’s not the goal. Should I look for a “normal” sleeved shirt? Or maybe not use the tie?
    HALP! Thanks in advance 😀

    1. No worries, that’s what we’re here for.

      I’m going to advise you against wearing a short sleeve button-down shirt with a vest and tie – you might end up looking like a hipster barber in Brooklyn who acts like it’s August all year round. BUT, I have a compromise. You can stick with your vest and tie combination, but wear a long sleeve button-down white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Not bad, right? This is what I’m picturing.

      1. What collar type is jgl wearing in that pic??

        1. Black Lapel says:

          While JGL isn’t wearing a custom Black Lapel shirt, the shirt he’s wearing is closest to our Solid Blue Shirt with a semi-spread collar.

  24. We are hosting a 50th wedding anniversary party for my in-laws. Cocktail attire was requested, but its the first Saturday in August in the South. My husband was thinking about a vest outfit. He has a great pair of medium grey slacks and I was wondering what color of vest. Was thinking of dressing it up with a pocket square. Ideas? His build is quite athletic, but recently he has been in some weddings and I love the way a vest flatters his body type. Suggestions greatly appreciated!!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Before we go into any outfit suggestions let’s first address the cocktail attire issue. If you’re the host, it would stand to reason that you are deciding on the dress code? Right. If so, we don’t recommend calling for cocktail attire. Cocktail attire means full suits for men. It would be poor form for the host to set a dress code and then underdress. If there’s still time, we recommend changing the dress code to something like “semi-casual” to give guests a sense of the kind of outfits you expect them to wear. If it’s too late and guests are planning on cocktail attire, then your husband’s going to have to bite the bullet and wear a suit and tie.

      If you do go with a more casual look and wants a vest to wear with a pair of gray pants, the color choices are pretty much wide open. Just about everything matches with neutral medium gray slacks. The color matching he should be concerned with is matching the colors to his own colors. If he’s got dark hair, a dark vest will do the trick. Lighter hair means a lighter vest is probably the optimal choice. For more on this, check out our Mastering Men’s Fashion From the Inside Out story where we break down how professional stylists come up with color combinations that work.

      We hope this helps, Fran. If you want to get more specific advice from one of our stylists, feel free to send some pics to concierge@blacklapel.com.

  25. I am a chick and I want to wear a suit vest without looking like I stole it from my dad’s closet. All of the woman’s vest that I have found are those stupid crop ones that end right beneath the bust, which is rad I am sure for those that like that but I want a suit jacket. Do you have any suggestions on how I could go about this? colors, vest type, having it taken in at certain parts of the vest, ill take any advice at this point, I am a bit desperate.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      While we make our clothes for men, they are made-to-measure and some women do get clothes from us (including the female employees of Black Lapel and some of our wives as well). The measurement process is roughly the same, though there are some key areas where you’ll want to adjust.

      Without getting into particulars here, we’d be happy to walk you through the process with one of our stylists. Drop us a line at concierge@blacklapel.com (or schedule an appointment if you’re in the New York City area) and we’ll get you into a great fitting vest.

  26. I want to get a vest (or more than one) to wear casually with jeans. I’m sold on dark jeans but I prefer a more relaxed fit. Is that suitable to wear with a vest or would the look be thrown off due to the vest fitting far more snugly than the jeans? Is there an exception to the rule? I’m about 5’7″ and pretty chunky, which is why I don’t like to wear slim jeans.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There’s nothing wrong with relaxed fit, in fact, we even sell a standard fit dress pant, which has a looser cut with a more relaxed look and feel. As long as your jeans aren’t baggy anywhere, your look shouldn’t be thrown off.

  27. Hi! Do you ever offer T&E review suits out?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Our suits get reviewed (and reviewed well, we might add) by menswear bloggers fairly frequently, Kent. We work with a curated list of There’s even a website dedicated to them. Check out BlackLapelReviews.com if you’d like to see some unfiltered reviews.

  28. Lisa Rodriguez says:

    Hullo, guys! I have brown skin and black hair (Asian from the tropics). I’ve never done a vested suit + jeans before. I only have black denim jeans and brown suede bucks to start with. I want either a printed shirt and plain-colored tie, or a plain white shirt and printed knit tie. And then for the vest, maybe a safe gray? Srsly I have very little idea and I’m kinda ashamed to ask because everyone else seemed to know exactly what they want while I’m starting from scratch.

    Also, I’m not blessed with height and fit body build. I only stand at 5ft. flat and a bit chubby. Does that affect the chances of me looking good on a vested suit? Thanks in advance!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      No reason to be ashamed, we’re here to help, Lisa. We usually field questions from men, so our you’ll have to take that into account when reading our advice. That said, women have been wearing menswear stylishly since Diane Keaton made everyone fall in love with Annie Hall back in 1977. Diane Keaton continues to raid men’s closets with fantastic results and style icons like the unbelievably sexy Sarah Ann Murray have kept the tradition going. But enough about the women who wear them, let’s talk clothes they wear…

      Vests work well for a lot of people but when advising men we generally tell shorter, thicker guys to beware the barrel/robot look that a vest can give you. However, for a woman, that’s a little bit less of an issue since you’ve got natural curves that men don’t have. So proceed, but proceed with caution. As for color combinations, a gray vest is an easy outfit starter. One thing we would change, though, is the black jeans and brown shoes combo. That’s a no-no in our book. If the jeans are black, the shoes ought to be too. With some black shoes and black jeans, a white button front shirt and a gray vest can make for a stylish casual look.

  29. I’m also thinking of something new but unsure if it works. I’m thinking of going with a black or very dark vest, over a black and white checkered shirt as close as possible to this http://www.express.com/clothing/endtoontoend+suit+vest/pro/6101018/cat1630001 , a slim black tie, and dark jeans. My questions are:

    Should I be looking for a slightly less dressy fabric than pictured in the vest above? Does the sheer material on the back of that style of vest specifically make the vest too dressy for jeans? (I have the above vest in that color and a darker black, but cannot seem to find one in a more casual version.

    The event in question is a party at a classy bar. Its not fully formal, but dressier than average. I’m envisioning a musician/artist look with this combination.

    Personally, I’m 6’2″ with a very athletic build and know that this style of vest has always been physically flattering. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re happy to help, Jim.

      No need to worry about the vest being too dressy. It’s always better to be a little overdressed, than a little under-dressed.

      As for the backing, a Bemberg back, like the one featured on the back of Black Lapel vests work just fine with casual outfits. Of course, since our clothes are all custom made, you can special request a self-back vest. To do that just email concierge@blacklapel.com when you’re ready to order.

  30. I have a dark grey vest, was planning on wearing it with either black dress pants or grey ones that are just a touch lighter than the vest, need advice on what color shirt should go with it? Also, yay or nay on a black slim tie

    1. The tie decision is not one we can make for you, David. We will offer this advice, though: make a decision to wear it confidently or don’t wear it. Nothing will kill your look more than being doubtful about whether you’re wearing the “right” things. Meekness is the enemy of style.

      Okay, enough of the tough love, David. On to your other questions. As for the pants, whenever you wear non-matching separates like a jacket and pants or, in this case, a vest and pants, avoid combinations that are too similar. A dark gray vest and a barely lighter pair of gray pants will look like you tried to make a matching suit out of two different fabrics (a Busch League move). Instead, we suggest going with the black pants.

      When the rest of the outfit is all neutral solids you don’t have to worry much about the your shirt color clashing with the rest of the outfit, but you should look for a color and/or pattern that works for you. Explaining how to do that is a little more than we could fit into a comment reply. That’s why we wrote this entire story on creating your own shirt style. We suggest you use the advice we offered there whenever you’re stuck trying to figure out what shirt to wear/buy. That said, when in doubt, a solid white shirt is always the safest and easiest bet.

  31. I will be attending a friend’s birthday party in Vegas here soon, all I have are some dark slim straight jeans. I do not particularly like white shirts. Any help would be great in putting together a great outfit.

    1. We’d be happy to help you out, Angel. You can wear the same outfit featured above with a light blue shirt if you don’t want to wear white. The rest can stay the same, or you could even add something to tie the light blue and dark blue of the shirt and jeans together, like a knit tie with dark and light blue stripes, if you want to dress the look up a bit. All of this still adds up to a simply stylish look for any casual occasion.

      1. That sounds really good. Are there any other colors you could recommend for the shirt? Such as plaid patterns if any, that could go with a grey vest? As well as type of material for the vest? if that matters much.
        I thank you very much for all the help!

        1. Glad we could help you out, Angel.

          The shirt colors and patterns are really a matter of personal preference and what works best for you. Rather than giving you some blind recommendation, we suggest you use our guide to creating your own shirt style.

          As for the vest, we think that fabric and fit are just as important in a vest as they are in the rest of a suit. You can order a vest here that is made from the same wool we make our suits out of with Bemberg lining on the back for wearing it as a part of a suit. For more casual wear you can special order one with a fabric back and you can order one made in any of the fabrics we offer by emailing us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  32. I am going to Vegas and want to looks nice going out Saturday night. I do not know what color shirt and slacks to wear with a medium to light grey vest. I have black, charcoal, dark grey and light grey slacks. As for shirts, I have a ton of blues ( light and dark, striped and solid), Green, reds and maroon/burgundy, as well as black. The only shirt I do not have to take is White. Can I wear a medium blue shirt with grey vest? If so what color slacks should I wear? Or do you have another combination that would work best? Any help would be great, Thanks.

    1. A light blue shirt will stand in for white just fine with a gray vest.

      As for pants, it sounds like you’re fully stocked in the gray department, so the pairing should focus more on the interplay between the vest and the pants than the vest and the shirt. Try to differentiate between the pants and vest by choosing the light gray pants if the vest is dark or dark gray if the vest is light. A little variation on the gray theme will go a long way. Finally, with all but the black pants you can add some brown shoes to this look to keep things interesting and add a little color to this outfit.

      Now, try not to lose your shirt in Vegas, Ryan!

  33. Antonio Gonzalez says:

    Could i pull off a black vest with very casual shoes? Like old school high top black converse or simple black skater shoes.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You would know the answer to that better than we do. If you’ve got a buttoned up stylr and have a closet that consists of classics, then such a strong departure from that style like you are describing would come off looking as ridiculously put on as Garth Brooks’ alter ego Chris Gaines (Brooks and Gaines may have been equally cheesy but at least Garth Brooks seemed authentic).

      Would we wear the black vest and sneakers outfit you described? Hell to the no. That’s because it’s not our style. It wouldn’t be our style. But that’s us. As a maker of fully customizable clothes we respect, and encourage you to take full advantage of, your right to define your style. You do you, Antonio. We won’t judge. Who knows, maybe we’ll even give the look you described a try ourselves one day…well, don’t hold your breath.

  34. I’m wearing this almost exact outfit to my company’s Holiday party. I noticed that the model in the photo is wearing a brown belt and certainly brown shoes but can I do the same with black belt and shoes? If I wanted to add a tie, what color would work? the vest is grey, very similar to the one in the photo.

    Help!!!

    Thanks,
    DavidD

    1. This same look would work with a black belt and black shoes. Black shoes tend to be more formal looking, so the overall look may not come off quite as casual, but it’ll play.

      If you were to add a tie to this outfit, we’d suggest a black knit one like this to give a bit of texture to your look and keep things casual.

  35. Try different shades and colors of vest and pair it with a denim. Go for some bright colored tuxedos.

    1. Yes to experimenting with pairing different shades, but “bright colored tuxedos?” Seems like kind of a non sequitur.

  36. If I’m wearing a more neutral color vest with more rugged appearance, such as a brownish/tan tweed vest, a darker shade of jeans with shoes some shade of brown or tan… what color shirt would be best that is NOT white?

    1. The answer to this question depends on what you look like, Charlie. Too many guys focus all of their attention on getting their clothes to match and don’t think about how the clothing color works with the wearer. As we discussed in our piece about building the ultimate suit, your skin and hair color are the most important things when it comes to deciding on clothing colors.

      All that being said, a middle of the road blue is neutral enough to work with almost any complexion and always pairs nicely with browns and tans. So, even though we haven’t had a look at you, we’ll advise you to go with a blue shirt like this.

  37. Could you do a black vest, lavender shirt with a dark grey pant and black shoes or does the pant have to be black as well?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      No need to get all matchy-matchy, Jim. A black vest and black pants might have you looking like the wait staff at a catered affair. (That’s no knock on waiters, but rather a knock on some of the uniforms they’re forced to wear.)

      A word to the wise, though, Jim. Black is tougher to wear than most guys think. A black vest on a lavender shirt is going to be a seriously high contrast combo. Consider wearing a lighter vest like the one pictured above for a laid back look.

  38. Brilliant article. I was looking at wearing dark jeans with black canvas shoes with my vest but I’m not to sure as to what shirt. I own a tailor made grey wool vest, do you have any ideas as to what shirt?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This outfit is so neutral it’s hard to come up with a shirt that would clash. Don’t overthink it, try a white oxford with a button down collar for a laid back look that will complement the casual canvas kicks.

      Other colors of oxford shirts would work too. Or, if you’re looking for a lighter, more casual shirt, get yourself a chambray shirt.

  39. I want to wear jeans, a solid dark purple shirt, and a vest to a casual masquerade party at my local watering whole. What color jeans and vest should I wear? I’ve got black shoes, but I could grab some brown ones if suggested! Thanks a lot!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Isn’t the whole point of the masquerade party to wear a costume, Nate? You may want to consult with the host before showing up in your street clothes.

      As for the outfit, we always say go with dark blue jeans. Dark jeans are the most versatile. They work with everything. As for shoes, we’re always in favor of brown shoes for the same reason. For more on this check out our guide to essential dress shoes. Neither of these things should be purchased to wear to this one event, though, Nate. Even if you’re not going to wear a costume, dark jeans and a good pair of brown dress shoes are foundations of the stylish man’s wardrobe. Invest wisely. Look for quality shoes and a color/style of jeans you’ll get a lot of use out of. Then you can go masquerading as a stylish gent everywhere you go.

  40. I was thinking of being more-so on the casual side of things. I have a lot of button-up plaid-ish type style shirts that are popular and are also okay to wear at my workplace. I would love to add in a vest/dark jeans/plaid combo to add a nice dress touch to my wardrobe. So I was thinking of getting a dark gray/black vest and pairing it with the plaid shirts that have accents of either black or gray in them.

    First thing that comes to mind is a dark purple/black plaid shirt with a black vest and dark jeans.

    I can’t really decide if this combo would actually look good, since I have never been good with styling myself. Second opinion ?

    1. The combination of plaid shirts and vests is a great way to go, Mike. Black is a tougher color to wear than most guys realize. It’s so stark there’s little room for error. Black can be unforgiving when set against fairer skin and can highlight flaws on anyone’s skin.

      That’s why gray and navy blue vests are a much safer, and more versatile, choice. Unlike a black vest, you can wear them with either brown or black shoes and they harmonize with many more pairs of jeans/chinos. Even those plaid shirts with some black in them will look good with neutral gray or navy.

      All of this doesn’t mean the black vest is useless. Rather, it should be used with caution. But hey, why not have a few vests, one in each color? As you can see from all the comments above, a lot of guys (us included) can’t get enough of them.

  41. Nathan Alexzander says:

    I was wondering if a black button down with a white tie and white vest would work? I am planning on wearing black jeans but I need to know if that would be a huge flop.

    1. Sorry to be the bearers of bad news, Nathan, but this outfit has “huge flop” written all over it. To start, a black button-front shirt is one of the hardest shirts to wear with a tie. Wear it with a black tie and you look like Regis Philbin circa 1998. Wear it with any colored or patterned tie and it looks like you were trying to dress up a casual shirt. Why? Because a black button front really is a casual shirt. That’s why we recommend you do not wear it with a tie.

      As for the vest, a white vest is a non-starter. Wearing a vest that is lighter than the shirt underneath it is a tough style challenge (it can be done, but the degree of difficulty is high). A white vest makes pairing pretty much impossible.

      No need to go off the menu, for this look, though Nathan. Stick with a white shirt and a neutral vest color (like gray) and follow the guidance above and you’ll be looking fly.

  42. I’m wanting to wear a vest with some dark, slim fitting jeans. Well the problem is… What color vest should go with what color belt and shoes? I really need help.

    1. Take your cues from the vest buttons, John. If they’re brown, wear brown shoes. If they’re black, go with black shoes.

      If your jeans won’t stay up without one, you’re out of luck, but if you can get away with it, ditch the belt. Belt buckles tend to push out the vest awkwardly and make you look paunchy.

  43. I’m in need of help!!
    I have a soccer presentation coming up. Its a semi formal occasion.
    All I have at the moment is a light grey vest.
    What colour shirt, pants and shoes would look good??
    Thinking of a bowtie aswell.

    1. “Semi-formal” means so many things to so many people it’s virtually meaningless. Since you’re asking this question in response to a story about wearing a vest casually, we’re assuming that you’re going for a pretty casual look.

      Play it safe and wear a pair of charcoal slacks, a crisp white shirt and a black knit tie for a tie that is still pretty laid back and looks great with a vest.

  44. My son will be wearing a medium gray herringbone wool vest with jeans for his Senior Yearbook pictures. We were thinking of dark jeans, light blue shirt with a maroon tie, wearing the same beige shoes as shown above. Do you approve, or do you think it is too much? He really likes the vest and tie combo and I have no fashion sense on how to make it work for this occasion. To be honest, I have no fashion sense at all (hanging my head in shame).I would appreciate and suggestions. Thank you!

    1. We do approve, Kimberly. This outfit sounds appropriate for the occasion and the individual pieces can be mixed and matched with tons of other outfits.

      As for the fashion sense, just steer your son on over here to The Compass. We’ll get him dappered up good. It’s never too early to start working on his style!

  45. 1. Thank you for the response and Roger that on the w̶h̶i̶t̶e̶ ̶b̶u̶c̶k̶s̶!! Black to match the buttons on the vest.
    2. I am in my best friend’s wedding party, though I’m the officiant of the ceremony and have no counterpart for pictures (also the reason I have some leeway)
    3. The happy couple is a female couple.

    Does that alter any suggestions??

    1. Glad we could help, Jake. The new information doesn’t change our recommendations much. Since you will be the only man up there, you will likely stand out regardless of what you wear. And the brides gave you a classic shades of blue + shades of brown palette to work with. With that in mind, we suggest only minimally tweaking the original idea. It sounds like you prefer shades of black to shades of brown so you can swap those colors and stay somewhat close to what the brides intended. Here’s how it breaks down (with links to relevant Compass stories):

      • Light blue shirt (though we wouldn’t suggest wearing the white contrasting collar and cuffs shirt since that’s an uber-formal look that really should only be done with a tie and jacket)
      • Gray vest
      • Black belt
      • Charcoal or dark gray pants
      • Dark gray socks
      • Black shoes (to go with the vest buttons as you mentioned).

      Rock this look and the happy couple will be happy (and you’ll look great).

  46. Hello Compass!

    My vest/dress query is for a wedding, obviously not a “casual” event though the dress code is less formal than most. “No jacket or tie, a powder blue shirt (pattern ok), a camel/light brown vest with navy blue trouser.”

    I’ve gotten the Ok and have deviated a bit and I was wanting feedback on my decisions. This is what I’m feeling, am i crazy? Grey(dark) tweed vest over a powder blue shirt with white collar/cuff/placket, camel trousers, and I was thinking some white bucks with some blue on blue socks? Any suggestions? Does this sound rediculous?

    1. First off, are you a member of the wedding party, Jake? If so, you may have gotten the OK to deviate but having the right to do something, doesn’t mean you should do it. If everyone else in the wedding party is wearing the powder blue shirt with a light brown vest and navy blue trousers, you should wear that as well. If one man is going to stand out it should be the groom, not the third guy from the left in all of the wedding photos.

      Now, if you are not a member of the wedding party you do have a lot more leeway. Still, going completely “off the menu” if you will, is not recommended. As a guest you should be able to wear a gray vest instead of a brown one and no one will have any complaints. You may even be able to get away with khaki pants (though if you’re going to stray from the requested navy blue you might be better off sticking with dark pants in a color like charcoal gray or even black), but the shoes should not be white bucks. For one, Labor Day was last week. While we don’t strictly adhere to the “no white after Labor Day” rule, white bucks are about as mid-summery as dress shoes get. But fashion faux-pas aside, white bucks will put a lot of attention on you. Let the bride and groom have the spotlight and choose a more traditional pair of kicks (brown or black).

      Finally, check out our guide to wedding attire for men for more on this subject.

  47. Hi Compass!

    I’m a college student, just got a nice vest, and want to try wearing it around casually. The vest in question is light grey with a plaid patterning and black buttons.

    Since I’m going for the more casual look, I was thinking I could pair it with a t-shirt or a polo. What sorts of colors/patterns do you think would work best for this? Also do you have any opinions on whether it should be buttoned or unbuttoned?

    Thanks!

    1. Adding a vest to your wardrobe is a smart move, Akshay. (Good to see you’re learning something at college!)

      Like many young guys it sounds like you’re a little nervous about looking too “dressed up.” Don’t be. A vest and a T-shirt has a distinctly Ed Norton-ish look (not the gifted actor from such classic movies as Fight Club, but the garbage man neighbor from the old Honeymooners show pictured here). Most guys are trying not to stand out too much so they put on a T-shirt and a vest and what does it do? It makes you stand out for all the wrong reasons.

      Are we advocating wearing a full-on dress shirt like you would wear with a suit and tie? No. But a more casual chambray shirt in an easy pairing color like blue or an oxford shirt will keep things laid back and still look great under a vest.

  48. I have a (for lack of better words) high-class cigar bar hop planned with a few friends and this is just the style I was looking for. I was thinking dark wash denim, black vest, red button down with the sleeves up, and a loose charcoal patterned tie. Thoughts?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This outfit sounds pretty straightforward (that’s a good thing). Our only concern would be looking a little devilish with a black vest and a red shirt. If the red is subdued (like this) it can work.

      The safer bet, though, for an evening out, would be to go with a dark red that creates less contrast with the vest. If the red is the shade of a red wine you might end up drinking with some of those high class cigars, then you’re on the right track.

  49. I’m having a party this Thursday and I was thinking about wearing a vest. It’s a Black/White twill crosby and ross florham (dont know if that makes a diffrence). I don’t wanna look too dressy and was planning on wearing it with a white button shirt, dark washed slim fit denim jeans, but Im not sure what type of shoes. I was thinking of wearing my nike converses, but if you have a better suggestion Im all ears.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      On the whole this sounds like an outfit that will work. Sneakers and a vest is a pretty young look, though, Trae. Judging by the Thursday night party plans, this is probably not a concern.

      If you do want to go with a more grown-up look, but don’t want the whole outfit to turn too formal, try a pair of brogue shoes with a slightly chunky sole for a casual, yet mature pair of shoes for this outfit.

  50. Michael G. says:

    I just bought a lighter medium grey glen check vest. Will that go well with lavender or mint green shirt with slightly darker tie, dark blue jeans, and brown shoes. Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sounds good to us, Michael. Lighter grays also work with white shirts (a summer staple) and light blue shirts as well.

  51. I have a have white dress shirt with light blue lines running horizontal and dark blue lines running vertical. I got a bowtie that has a squared design with the colors red white a blue to go along. I am also wearing brown slacks. My question is would a grey vest go well or would a blue vest work better?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Blue will provide the most harmony with the blue in the shirt, so that would be our first choice.

      The gray would work too, but only if it is as light or lighter than the slacks. A really dark charcoal gray vest with khaki pants would clash, but a gray vest like this one with medium or chocolate brown pair of pants would do the trick.

  52. I recently picked up a black vest that I plan to pair with white dress shirts and ties. My question is about the pants. I plan to wear jeans occasionally, but I will also need to wear dress pants some too. I have three pair that will go well with the vest. One pair is dark charcoal grey with a subtle pinstripe. The second pair is a bit lighter color grey with no stripes, and the last pair is a standard grey with very faint stripes that you can’t really see unless you are right on top of it.

    Will they all work, and which would look best? I’m wearing this to take someone dancing. I will have a black belt with silver buckle, black shoes, and planning to wear a dark red and black squares tie with subtle white dots on it. I haven’t really worn vests before and was mainly nervous about mixing a pinstripe with a solid black vest.

    Any advice will be greatly appreciated!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re no fans of pinstripe separates. A pinstripe suit all coordinates, but start wearing the pieces separately and our favorite part of the pinstripe (sleek lines from head to toe) breaks down. Plus, we wouldn’t wear businesslike office styles like pinstripes (separates or as a suit) for a night of dancing.

      Other than that, our main bit of advice when wearing a vest with dress slacks is to avoid a belt. With jeans wearing a belt may be inevitable, but your tailored pants ought to fit you well enough to go without a belt. Why? A belt buckle will add girth and push the bottom of your vests open. What’s worse, belt buckles draw attention to the problem because they’re metal and contrast with the fabric around them.

      If you do need a little help holding your pants up under the vest you can go to a tailor for two solutions:

      1. get the waist taken in so that your pants stay at your waist naturally, or
      2. add suspender buttons to the insides of your pants so that you may wear suspenders under a vest (what we do when we wear three piece suits around Black Lapel)
  53. Jah Larry Dread says:

    Could I pull off a light blue strip seersucker pants, navy short sleeve vest and white seersucker vest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’ll assume you meant to write “short sleeve shirt” in your comment.

      Sounds like a lot going on, in this outfit, Dread. Two different seersucker types will likely look mismatched. Of these two we’ll take the pants. We’re not too sure what kind of shirt you’re talking about (button front? T-shirt?) but the dark shirt with a white item on top like a white tie on a dark dress shirt, can make you look like you’re wearing a 30s gangster Halloween costume. The whole outfit sounds a little forced. We’d suggest skipping the vest and wearing the pants with a white button-front shirt and rolling up the sleeves.

  54. SAYURU SAMARASINGHE says:

    I have a vest of shiny dark brown color.

    I’d like to wear it for a formal party with a tie. Should I get a new pair of trousers from the exact same color?

    If I’m wearing the vest casual, what colors should I choose as my shirt/t-shirt and trouser/jeans

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The good news is, there’s no need to try to buy a pair of matching pants for your vest. The bad news is, unless you bought the vest as a separate from a suit, the chances of matching it up exactly are slim to none and nobody’s going to be fooled by a vest that’s “almost” the same as the pants you’re wearing. In fact, wearing two items that are close but not the same just draws people’s attention to the fact that they don’t match and will make you look like a rube.

      Here’s a better strategy:

      1. Be sure that formal isn’t that formal. If you think it’ll be a room full of guys in suits, beware of under-dressing. Don’t show up in a vest or you’ll look like you’re catering the party, not attending it.
      2. For pants try light, khaki chinos.
      3. For shirts, a simple white shirt is an easy option, but the brown of the vest will even allow you to pair with pink or lavender shirts.
      4. For casual looks, go with a darker wash denim for easy pairings and try a white oxford shirt or T-shirt for un-fussy Saturday style.
  55. Luis Cornejo says:

    I have a light vest and my 8th grade graduation is this monday so I wanted to know if I could wear a dark-gray-ish skinny jeans-but not too tight, with a dusk blue shirt and I want to know what tie color I should wear and if my black loafers would look good with skinny jeans and the dusk blue shirt.

    Also, I want to know if I should wear the dusk blue shirt or if I should change it, and if I do, what tie color should I buy?

    Ps. My gown is a dark blue. So please tell me

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This sounds like a strong outfit for stepping up to the next level on your educational journey.

      For a tie, we would suggest going with a solid black knit tie. Knit ties are great for a more casual style like you’re planning to wear and great for spring.

      For the shirt color, a lot depends on your own coloring (how your skin and hair look against the blue of the shirt). If you try it on and it doesn’t look quite right, take the safe bet and wear a crisp white shirt instead.

      Knock ’em dead, Luis!

  56. The comments on this page are amazing, hoping you can help me in a similar fashion. I love the casual vest look but just bought some darker tan slacks for the first time and I’m at a loss as to colours for vests and shoes. First look that came to mind was maybe a royal blue button down, white tie, black vest, white belt, tan slacks, black shoes. Too many colours? Black shoes with tan slacks, is that even allowed? Help!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Using the dark tan slacks as your starting point we recommend going with brown shoes. Earth tones on your legs means you should avoid black shoes (they’re better paired with black, gray and navy slacks). For a shirt and tie, keep things simple with a white or light blue shirt and a knit tie to keep the look casual (we love solid navy knits but for this situation).

      Now on to the reason why we’re all here: the vest. The same rule of thumb that applies to the shoes applies to the vest color. Look for a vest in another earth tone, like a lighter or darker tan than your pants. Or, if you’re looking to add some color to the look, you could wear a vest in just about any color (tan is neutral so you don’t have to worry too much about the colors clashing). Just avoid bold, highly saturated colors like royal and stick with more muted color options.

      With these guidelines in mind you’ll be able make many an outfit work with those tan slacks.

  57. I’m trying to put something together to attend a casual wedding. I have a light grey vest that I’d like to wear with a blue gingham shirt and purple tie. I’d like something dressier than jeans. What color trousers would go? Can I wear another grey? What about shoes?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You can wear another gray, just try a different shade of gray than the light vest. With the purple and blue up top you probably shouldn’t add another color to this outfit, but you could go with navy for the slacks as well.

      As for shoes, with either gray or navy slacks, you’ve got your choice of brown or black shoes. Stick with classics like brogues or, if the weather will be warm and dry, loafers. Any of our five essentials of the dress shoe wardrobe ought to do the trick.

  58. Can I wear a black vest with khakis and black shoes? The shirt is long-sleeve, light gray with black stripes. Also pondering wearing a black skinny(ish) tie.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      No, you may not. Just kidding, Scott. While we usually suggest medium shade vests over black, the shirt and vest combo will work.

      The tie with the striped shirt may be overdoing it a bit, though. We’d steer clear of adding another element to this look.

  59. Going to my school graduation next week, would black suit pants a white shirt with a light grey collar and a darker waistcoat be ok? Most people are just wearing shirt and tie but i dont like that look :/

    1. Black Lapel says:

      While this look might be a fun one, as the title suggests, it’s a casual look. For an event like a graduation, we still recommend wearing a tie.

      You can still wear a vest, though. Take a page out of Men’s Style Pro Sabir Peele’s book and add a pocket square to the mix to further dress up this casual look.

  60. I’m attending a wedding and I was planning on wearing my dark grey suit pants, light pink button down, black belt, black dress shoes and a black tie. When I bought my dark grey suit I didn’t get a vest to match so I figured a black vest would do. What do you think?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The “odd waistcoat” (a vest that doesn’t match the suit) can be pretty sharp. Black and pink can be an awkward combination, so we’d suggest either going all the way monochrome and changing the shirt to a white shirt for a fully B&W look, or ditching the vest.

      Of course, that’s all built around your starting point of a gray suit, but if you want our ultimate advice, check out the Royal Wedding story we just published.

  61. Would a grey suit vest, white shirt (no tie), dark jeans and grey casual shoes look okay? belt color? My shoes have leather laces so i was going to go with brown belt

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The outfit sounds pretty sharp, JK.

      Judging by the leather laces, it sounds like you’re talking about some boat shoes. Boat shoes with dark jeans and a worsted wool vest would be a little awkward. We’d suggest going with a pair of loafers for a somewhat casual, yet still dressy enough for the vest look. And when you do this, follow the rule of thumb and match the belt to your shoe color.

  62. I wanted an outfit to wear when I go out with friends to the bar or to the mall. I was thinking of a white shirt with the black vest and navy blue jeans with dark grey Edmour lace-up shoes. How do you think this would fit? Im trying to look for a standard casual look for when I go out.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      On the surface it sounds like a pretty straightforward plan. A white shirt and a black vest is a really high contrast look, be sure you’ve got enough contrast in your face/hair to stand up to this look. This is a good look for a medium to dark skin tone and darker hair (pictured here. If you’re on the pale side and have light hair, try lightening up with a mid-gray vest like this, Billy.

      1. Hey I just wanted to let you know it worked out well. Im trying to find the name of those jeans you have at the top. Can you tell me what colour they are or what they are called? THANKS!

        1. Black Lapel says:

          Those were the model’s own jeans, Billy. Nothing exotic, just a pair of Levis 501s in their standard rinse color.

  63. I’m going clubbing and want a vest but I’m on a budget, I have dark jeans and was thinking Chelsea boots? And should I wear a long sleeve white shirt with this? I’m quite skinny and don’t want it to be baggy. Also what should a casual vest look like from behind as I can only find ones with a different material backing. And does a short sleeve shirt work just as well? Sorry for the bombardment of questions I’ve only been once.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We eat bombardments of questions for breakfast, Bradley. So let’s start chowing down…

      1. The dark jeans and Chelsea boots ought to work out fine, though, if you plan to hit the dance floor hard, just be careful not to step on any toes.
      2. A long sleeve white dress shirt will work. You’re right about not getting it too baggy. It’s tough getting a shirt that doesn’t fit like a tent when you buy off the rack. You know where they sell shirts actually fit, don’t you? Not to drop names but there’s a company whose name rhymes with “smack the bell.”
      3. Vests are generally made with fabric fronts and lined backs. You can find fabric back ones, but they’re rare (starting to sound like a broken record here, but you can special request a fabric back when you order a vest from the same guys who run this site).
      4. We’re not on board with the short sleeve choice, B. A vest is a layer and adds warmth. By nature it looks a little weird with short sleeves (like shorts and winter boots).

      Hope this is all helpful!

  64. Need your input for a nice but casual outfit for this weekend in Atlantic City for the club. I have a grey vest that I want to pair with a black v-neck underneath and my dress watch. Would love a suggestion on style and color of jeans and shoes that would compliment this. thanks! these tips have been awesome

    1. Black Lapel says:

      With the black shirt and a gray vest, we’d suggest keeping things dark below the waist. A dark wash blue, or even black, is the way to go here. Go middle of the road here, not painted on skinny but don’t go loose and baggy either. A standard or slim fit is in order here.

      As for shoes, black is the way to go if you’re doing a black V-neck. If you want to keep things casual but don’t want to go with athletic shoes, try some loafers like these from Cole Haan. If sneakers are your thing, you may not go for those. If that’s the case, just be sure to keep the kicks black.

      Have fun and don’t do anything we wouldn’t do. In other words, do whatever you want!

  65. Would dark wash jeans with a faded patern be ok with a maroon vest? No tie just a vest and white dress shirt and those jeans.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re down with a little fade in the jeans in the right context. We suggest dark wash for pairing with a Black Lapel vest because our vests are a bit dressier than, say, a cotton vest. So in our context a dressier pair of jeans is more appropriate. If the vest in question is more casual, then the jeans can be too, Andrew.

  66. Hey, thanks for always helping. Usually I find my answer without typing. Can I wear a black coat, black vest, white shirt, with great pants to a summer, night time wedding?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Note: We’re interpreting a little bit here, but we’ll assume you meant “gray” pants not “great” pants. You should always wear great pants. And now on to our answer…

      As Ray Charles would say, night time is the right time (for black vests and jackets). The black jacket and vest could work here. Once, for a photo shoot, we needed a photo of the bow tie in a tuxedo. The model, who was wearing our gray glen plaid pants, slipped on a black jacket and bow tie over a white shirt. The look came off really well. We say go for it, Matthew.

  67. aditya khanna says:

    need an opinion..!!
    i,am going for my friend’s bachelor party tonight,can i go with this combination.
    a white nice fitted shirt along with black vest and black skinny denims with brown semi formal belt and brown moccasins??

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black jeans and brown moccasins, you say? Sorry, but we can’t go down that road with you. Black shoes are the only way we’d go here. Swap out those mocs with some black shoes (loafers or monk straps would do the trick) and a black belt and you’re all set for the evening’s debauchery.

  68. I’m going to a wedding this weekend and want to be more casual than a suit because it is an outdoor wedding. I’m thinking of wearing a black vest, but did not know if grey pants would be better or go with black pants to match the vest. I’m wearing a white dress shirt with a bow tie and black dress shoes. Would this outfit work? Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If the goal is to move more towards casual, then we recommend moving away from the all-black combo. A black vest and pants with a black bow tie will make you look like you’re either one of the caterers or you just took off the jacket of an uber-formal three-piece black suit. Neither of those scenarios adds up to a casual look. Instead, go with the gray slacks, the vest, and a more casual knit tie, like a black dotted knit. With these tweaks this outfit will keep things casual and stylish.

  69. Does this style work for most body types? I am broad shouldered and slightly on the heavier side. I really like this look. I want to dress better but Its hard for me to find something that I can casually wear but still look good in.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This style does work for a lot of body types. For a bigger guy, we’d suggest going with a lower contrast version of the look. Rather than pairing a white shirt and dark vest, try a light blue shirt with a navy vest. This will take the emphasis off of your midsection. Fit is important as well. Make sure the vest is long enough to cover your waist. If your shirt is peeking out at the bottom of the vest, that will draw attention to your stomach. Finally, avoid a belt with the vest for the same reason. With those adjustments, you can add this look to your casual repertoire.

  70. Need some help please! My wedding is just a few weeks away and we still do not have the grooms and groomsmen attire. We have looked at several options and browsed lots of styles, in-store and online. We have settled on a more casual look including dress pants, white button up shirt, and tie for groomsmen but want to add a vest to grooms attire. I’m stuck on colors and what will look best. So my question is do we do a lighter color vest with darker pants, same color, or darker vest, lighter pants? We were looking at black slacks with a medium toned gray vest OR khaki pants with a gray vest. Please help : )

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If only we had known about this sooner, we could have gotten your groom and groomsmen decked out in some custom threads! Alas, we won’t bother recommending any of our own vests but, instead, we’ll offer up a picture we really like as an example:

      Sabir M. Peele, of Men’s Style Pro, loves his vests. Here he is rocking an outfit that straddles the line between dressy and casual quite well. The color combination of darker brown pants, shoes and tie with the lighter blue shirt and mid-blue vest is a classic. Plus, he nails the details like the stubby tie clip and the brown trim on the pocket square (don’t forget the pocket square).

      Alternatively, you could go with a lighter version of this outfit by choosing caramel/khaki color for the slacks and vests, going with a mid-brown tie and light brown shoes plus a white shirt.

      Hope this helps and best wishes to you and your groom.

  71. I’m attending a Army function where the colors one night are black and gold.. Can I wear a black pants, black shirt with a golden vest and tie? Even if the back of the vest is white?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It’s a Golden Knight night, huh, Thomas? That’s excellent. Your outfit sounds pretty sharp. Two suggestions:

      1. Be sure that vest is matte. Avoid shiny gold fabric and opt for a more subtle way to express your black and gold pride.
      2. Swap out the black shirt for a white one. Black shirts are trickier than they seem. On their own you’re good to go, but we’d never wear one with a vest. Part of the charm of the black shirt is the “blackout” effect you create up top. Breaking up your upper half into body and arms with such a high contrast shirt & vest combo destroys the blackout effect.

      Hope this helps. By the way, since you’re an Army man, you might also want check out our 5 Essentials of the Military-Inspired Wardrobe story.

  72. You guys are awsome.Thanks for the advice. Ever since I came across your site I have been reading pretty much all your replies to everyone. Thank you SOOO MUCHH!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks, Jesus. We’re just doing our thing and, hopefully, helping you do yours!

  73. What if I wore a dark gray vest with a light pink shirt and a purple paisley tie? What pants, belt, and shoes would I wear?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The strong pattern of the tie and colors of both the shirt and tie would need to be balanced out by a pretty understated lower half. Try khaki chinos with brown brogues, like the ones we recommended here and a matching brown belt for a classic look.

      With a silk tie you could dress this look up a bit below the belt with light gray wool slacks. In that case, brown or black shoes with a matching belt would be appropriate, just stick with more casual styling like loafers to avoid looking like you just forgot the of your suit.

  74. Sorry to have some dumb questions, its just that im farely new at this and well im starting to really dig the casual looks, suits and all. I was also curiouse about one of your replies, are glossy or shiny long sleeve shirts under vests bad?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We would avoid shiny or glossy shirts under vests or even without vests. We would just avoid shiny or glossy shirts. The matte look of 100% cotton shirts is more our style. There are still many different types of cotton shirts, from twills to oxfords to chambrays. All of these are suitable for wearing under a vest and on their own.

  75. I was wondering, can I wear casual cloth like vest, ties dress shirts and dress pants or jeans in the spring time? Or would I look odd/wierd doing this?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      By cloth, do you mean cotton or linen? If that’s the case, yes, these are a good option for warmer weather vests. They look especially good for spring in neutral colors like khaki/tan or mid-gray with white shirts.

      Match the texture of the tie a well. We love knit ties with vests for a bit of texture. Cotton ties are another good seasonal option for spring.

  76. Do you think a dark blue vest match with a white button down shirt, a dark blue jean with a slight fading at the front and at the back and also a light brown sneakers? And also do you think this outfit is suitable when I want to go out with my friends at the mall?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The outfit sounds good, Aizad. The only thing we might edit are the shoes. Balance out a wool vest and jeans with a more rugged shoe like these boots in the colder months or desert boots like these when it’s warmer.

      As for appropriateness, we haven’t cruised the mall in a while, but with this outfit you’ll likely be the best-dressed guy in the place.

  77. I am 23 and I just bought a black vest which has dark grey back to it. Can I wear this vest over a crisp white shirt,with dark wash jeans, black and black shoes? I’m going for a casual look, but still want to look presentable. Also, I have a black skinny tie but should I go out and buy a knit tie instead? Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That sounds like a good look, Nick. The only thing we would advise you to be mindful of is the shoes. Black is the way to go here, but black shoes tend to look pretty formal. If the goal here is presentable+casual stick with black shoes with more casual styling like monk straps or loafers (see our piece on building your shoe wardrobe for more on these styles).

      As for the tie, we would suggest going with a textured tie. This can be, but isn’t limited to, a knit. You could also wear a cotton tie, like this one from J.Crew, or even linen, like this one from The Tie Bar, that are just what the doctor ordered for your spring look.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply! Does the tie have to be black or can it be another color? I am a fan of lace-ups, are there potentially a style of lace-ups on the more casual side that I could wear with this outfit?

        1. Black Lapel says:

          The tie doesn’t have to be black. Actually, the cotton and linen ones we linked to both feature gray, but no black. A black knit tie is a great addition to your wardrobe in general, but you can go with just about color you like for the knit tie option. And don’t sleep on the patterned knits either.

          As for the lace-ups, there are a lot of ways to go more casual with them. Brogues are generally more casual than smooth leather. We also love shoes with contrasting soles for a more casual touch. The main thing is to avoid the cap-toe oxfords that look great with a suit but look a little too dressy with jeans or casual chinos.

  78. Family pics coming up with siblings and spouses. Everyone (sibling and spouse/kids) is doing their own causal look with each group selecting a color that’ll accent their family. Anyway, I’m thinking of something to throw together that’ll look classy but causal. Something along the lines as this Q&A (vest). Any suggestions on color of vest, undershirt, and type/color of shoes… I’ve read most of the Q&A on this page but figured I’d let ya just go for it. Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sounds like a family that takes their photography seriously, Jesse. It’s clear why you would want to nail your look. All of the guidelines about fit above apply. As for color, we love medium gray vests. They’re neutral so they play nicely with lots of other colors so you can really get a lot of use out of them. A white shirt is a fail-safe, but if you want to go with a color, try a light blue like this twill or this light blue oxford.

      As for the shoes, we could write a whole story on the types and colors of shoes every man should have in his wardrobe. Oh wait, we already did! Even though it’s called How to Build Your Dress Shoe Wardrobe many of the shoes we highlighted there, like the brown brogues, the monk straps and the loafers, would work very well for a more casual look like the one you’re going for. If we had to pick just one pair of the shoes we mentioned in that article to wear for the rest of our days, it would be the Charles Tyrwhitt brown brogues.

      One final note: if you really want to class up the casual look, slip a pocket square into the vest that brings out the color of your shirt (like this one for a light blue shirt).

  79. Hi, I’m going out for my girlfriends birthday, got dark jeans, light waistcoat, white shirt.
    I need to know if my shiny green tie (kelly green kind of colour) would work or would i need a black one.
    Also shoes, would i need to wear smarter shoes or would black and lime green skate shoes be ok?

    (new to this whole smart dress thing :P)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’ve come to the right place Zak! Depending on the venue for the birthday (let’s say just about anything but a fancy restaurant), your outfit sounds like it’ll look fresh. That said, there are definitely several colors in between kelly green and black and we fully encourage you to explore the full spectrum. A note on the shoes, going dressier is always a classy move but coordinating other accessories with the shoes is important as well. Said kelly green tie may not work so well with a pair of dark brown wingtips. 😉

  80. Ok I’m average hieght and a bit plump I was wandering if a vest preferably grey white button down short sleeve and jeans would work

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Billy, swap out that short sleeve white shirt for a long sleeve white shirt (you can roll up your sleeves like the model in the post above) and you’ll have the look down!

  81. Hi,

    I’m looking for an opinion on an outfit i’d like to wear to works dinner. The dresscode is smart casual and most of us will be going out bar hopping later after the dinner.

    How does a grey waistcoat and trousers; matching , crisp white shirt, with dark brown brogue shoes and dark brown leather watch sound?

    I was thinking of wearing a skinny tie or bow tie as well as a leather belt that that match up with the shoes.

    Is this outfit overkill as it’s too “matchy” and does it not matter? I mean i don’t want to look like i just turned up from work. Kind regards.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Richard, we’re happy to inform you that your desired outfit is BL approved. Start with a tie and you can loosen the knot and roll up your sleeves for a bit of sprezz as the night goes on. Remember to sport a pocket square and stay stylish!

  82. Curious, having a work launch party and I plan on wearing dark wash jeans, grey vest and undecided about the shirt and shoes. Thought about lavender shirt, brown belt and brown shoes. Thoughts?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      This is a good, laid-back look. We would caution you on one thing: While matching your belt color to your shoes color is smart, we would avoid the belt if possible. Under a vest belts create a bulge around the buckle that can look a little awkward. If you need another way to hold the pants up, you can try one of our secret tricks and wear suspenders under the vest. No one will see them but they you won’t run the risk of a belt-induced muffin top.

      Enjoy the party!

  83. I am looking for a casual button down vest paired with nice Levi’s to conceal carry my handgun. Any suggestions?

    1. We can do some special customizations on your vest that might work. Please contact our concierge team at concierge@gmail.com for some one-on-one advice.

      If you are a plain-clothes law enforcement officer or agent of a three-lettered federal agency (FBI, CIA, ATF, DEA, etc.) you wouldn’t be the first one who has come to us with “special” needs that we needed to accommodate when making a garment!

  84. im just curious, I work at a place that requires dark color shirts (can be t-shirts, polos, or button up) say like navy or forest green with khaki pants. I like the idea of being able to accessorize the outfit with a vest and just curious on what color to really go with for the vest

    1. If you’re going with a dark shirt, stick with a solid and boost the contrast by going with a lighter vest (like this one) or a patterned one like this plaid which can be made into a vest and looks pretty boss with dark shirts as our own Frank the Tank showed everyone on Instagram.

      To get one of these vests, contact our concierge team at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  85. Hi i am going to wear a pair of darkish jeans and a white shirt, a charcoal grey vest and brown boots. what colour tie do you recommend with this?

    1. Before we get to color let’s talk texture. This outfit begs for a textured tie. A sturdier fabric will stand up nicely to the ruggedness of the jeans and boots down below and won’t look like a mismatch.

      As for the color, avoid black, since you’ll be wearing brown shoes. Instead try neutrals like navy or medium gray. If you really want to have some fun with it, try Mr. Cord with a gray pattern on the front that will stand out and you can let the brown in the back of the tie peek out to perfectly accent the brown boots. Bonus points, this tie is great for suiting up with a charcoal suit as well.

  86. I’ve always wanted to pull off the whole casual vest look, but never really felt like I was building the right outfit for it. I have a black slim fitted vest that I want to use and a multitude of t-shirts and quite a few button ups. I have the feeling that I am not getting the right colors as I have a tendency to go with darker reds, blues and purples (haven’t found a pink that works with my olive complexion). Any suggestions?

    I would appreciate any advice, and am more than willing to send pictures of specific outfits on request.

    1. It’s the black vest, Dude. The old adage about black going with everything is a half-truth. Try it with darker reds, blues and purples and the whole look turns dark and dour. Alas, you can still make the vest work, you just have to boost the contrast with lighter colors like light blue and white shirts. Also, a black knit tie and a crisply folded pocket square can go a long way toward making this outfit come off better.

      The other thing to consider is how this vest can work as just a layer. While the above is all about how to make the vest the centerpiece of your look, you can drop in the vest under a light gray suit or under a gray blazer of a different textures (i.e. tweed) for a little added dimension to more dressed up look.

      If you’d like more specific advice, go ahead and send some pics to the Black Lapel concierge team at concierge@blacklapel.com.

      1. I actually went with the light blue button down, which worked really well(got a lot of positive attention) with a pair of dark jeans and a nice pair of black “casual-dress” shoes. I dig the idea of a pocket square, and will have to make a point out of picking a few up soon.

        1. Excellent! And, yes, grab some pocket squares. Here are some good starting points for your collection, plus a huge list of favorites from readers like you.

  87. Good afternoon, I was hoping for some advice. I have a wool charcoal pin stripe vest, dark wash slim fit jeans, lavender shirt and a tie that works with the shirt. I was wondering if I could wear a dark brown suede jacket with this combo? If so, what colour shoes would you suggest? If you nix the jacket, I have a charcoal double breasted overcoat, or a dark grey biker style jacket I could use.

    1. The biker jacket is intriguing, Matt. Of all of the choices, this sounds the most unexpected and we like a little unexpectedness in our pairings (like this puffer vest with a suit).

      This is not to say you couldn’t make the dark brown suede jacket work, depending on what kind of jacket you’re referring to. A suede bomber? Sure. A suede duster? Not so much. We would also steer clear of the double-breasted overcoat, which sounds too formal for this look. Regardless of the top layer, a pair of loafers or monk straps, like the ones we highlighted here, ought to do the trick with a pair of jeans.

  88. I have a charcoal grey 3 piece suit of which the vest has a black back. Can the vest be worn by itself with the suit pants or jeans or do should I get a vest that is wholly the same material?

    1. We give you our blessing to wear that vest with other clothes, Tom. We love this look. All of the above advice still applies.

      Of course, if you’d like to get a vest with a fabric back you can order one from us and special request a fabric back. Just email concierge@blacklapel.com and when you place your order.

  89. Going to a more casual dance and really need a casual vest outfit. I’m a very well fit guy. The bulky build, about 5’7″, and 148lbs. I want to get people’s attention but not over do it because it is casual. Can you help me with an outfit idea?? I am younger and can pull a lot of stuff.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You can’t go wrong with a medium-shade neutral vest, and a pair of dark wash jeans.

      To get attention without overdoing it, stay away from busy patterns, but nail the details. Pair the above with a freshly laundered white shirt and a solid, non-silk (you said you wanted it to be pretty casual) tie that echoes the color of the pants and (like this). Top it all off with a tipped pocket square and you’ve got an understated but stylish vest outfit.

  90. Thinking of wearing a light purple shirt with a grey vest. . For the jeans should I wear solid black jeans or dark blue?
    Shoes will be black. Vest has black buttons ??

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Both dark blue and black jeans would work for this look. If you want the light purple to stand out more, go with black jeans (no other colors to compete with it in the outfit).

      As for the buttons, if it’s a Black Lapel vest, then it will have black horn buttons which will work well with black shoes, so you’re good there.

      In summation, we approve.

  91. Would never be gold lame. Thinking about changing the shirt to a red or rose pink. would the vest kick it with that? What type denim would be best suited?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Still tough to be too specific with a recommendation without seeing the vest but the red and pink shirt options sound like just what the doctor ordered.

      As for the denim, we’ll stick with our original rec., medium to dark wash. When in doubt err in the side of slim, dark, non-distressed denim. It never goes out of style.

  92. How about a gold vest, black long sleeve shirt and a black leather clarks? The vest is gold at the front with a pattern and black at the back. What kind of denim would best fit?

    1. It’s tough to picture gold, Strech. If you mean gold, as in gold lamé then we will have to give you a big thumbs down. We’re guessing that’s not what you mean, though.

      If you’re referring to a golden-hued khaki then we wouldn’t recommend offsetting it with a black shirt and black shoes. The richness of caramel khaki works better with white or a color, like light blue or pink for the shirt and rich brown for the shoe. It’s also difficult to give a denim recommendation without seeing the vest, but we generally err on the side of darker wash indigo shaded jeans.

  93. I’m thinking about a white shirt with rolled sleeves, dark red knit tie, and charcoal gray vest… trouble is I have no idea which pants to wear with that. Dark blue jeans? Black suit pants? Brown cords? What do you think?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We like jeans for this look. There’s something about denim and rolled up sleeves that just never gets old. Or maybe it’s the fact that it’s old (like California Gold Rush era old) that makes it so cool. Whatever the case, denim is a classic pairing with this look. Why stray from what’s worked for all these years.

  94. I would wear gray or black shoes with the pictured outfit. Or match the shoe color with a casual tie.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      All good options, JC.

  95. i have black vest normal not suit vest so can you tell me some matches including the shoes,shirt,and the pants? if possible with short sleeve shirts also. thanks

    1. Black goes with everything, so instead of giving you matches, we’ll give you a list of things NOT to wear with a black vest:

      1. Brown shoes (even though the shoes are far from the vest on your body, black and brown will still clash)
      2. Very dark shirts (this look is workable, but creating a little contrast between the shirt and the vest keeps your overall look from being muddled).
      3. Short sleeve shirts (sorry Micky, but unless you’re going for the Ed Norton from The Honeymooners look, stick to collared long-sleeve shirts under a vest. If you want to cool off, just roll up the sleeves).

      Pretty much everything else in your closet is fair game.

  96. I just purchased a gray herringbone vest with an ink blue shirt and I was wondering if I could wear a skinny black tie with it as well. If not, could I get a few combinations that would work well. Thanks

    1. There are very few times when a skinny black tie won’t work. That said, if the shirt is too dark it could the black tie and gray vest could make for a generally dull look. You could boost the contrast by wearing a light blue shirt (like this one) or by pairing with a lighter tie like that still ties in the gray from the vest (like this one from Everett or this plaid one from Armstrong & Wilson).

  97. I think the guy in the picture skinny jeans look nice with the vest but the sleeves of the colar shirt should be rolled “down” and those shoes look tacky.

    1. Duly noted, Kawoin.

  98. Can I wear a black short sleeve shirt under my white vest

    1. Yes, you CAN, wear a black short sleeve shirt under a white vest. You CAN’T get in a time machine and go to the 1991 Junior Prom at a Miami high school. If you could do the latter, the former would be the perfect outfit otherwise, steer clear.

  99. Should the vest be all one color? I wanted to wear a light gray (front) green (back) vest with a black dress shirt and darker gray skinny jeans, for a sort of casual look with a rocker look too. And I’m not entirely sure how that would look, should I just get a all one color vest to go with it?

    1. Black Lapel vests come with fabric on the front and Bemberg lining on the back. You can choose another lining color, though, for the back to get the desired effect and, upon special request, you can even get a vest that is fabric on both the front and back.

      In your case, Kieth, we suggest something like our Cool Gray four-button with Sky Blue lining on the back for that casual, rocker look.

  100. I just want to know if I wear black vest , which shirt nd pant colour it’ll match it . Ps. I’lL be wearing it with black shoes

    1. Everything goes with black. The only pants or shirt color we would suggest avoiding is brown. For a cool look try Light Gray Glen Plaid pants and a white shirt.

  101. Where do I get these kind of clothes? I only recently got inspired by seeing Booker Dewitt use this outfit and I thought to myself “that’s a great look!”.

    Anyways, I’ve never really dressed this nice before, where do I even begin? Thanks guys!

    Andrew

    1. Congratulations, Andrew, you’ve already begun. The vest and shirt above are both available from Black Lapel. You can rock this look in a number of settings, but when it comes to pants, we suggest you pair the vest/shirt combo with a pair of less formal slacks (like the Brownstone, Solid Tan, and Gray). If you are opting for a more casual look, then dark wash jeans always work.

  102. Like Bill, I am going to my GF’s holiday party and was wanting to surprise her by dressing very stylish and wearing a vest. She will be wearing a grey sweater dress from Inc., black leggings and black boots. I am planning to wear a pair of black Banana Republic slacks, Marc Anthony slim textured white shirt. I am trying to decide what color vest to buy and what color tie to wear as well. Any suggestions as I’d like to look good for her. Thank you.

    1. A black and white, shirt and pants outfit leaves the door pretty wide open, Pete. The varsity move, is to keep things neutral neutral with a Solid Cool Gray vest. This would allow you to wear the vest with just about anything after your party (nobody needs a one-hit wonder in their closet). As for ties, the Mr. Cord by Armstrong and Wilson would bring just the right amount of pattern to this all solid outfit and, again, would be highly wearable after the party because it looks great with everything from a suit to jeans.

      You mentioned wanting to “surprise” your girlfriend by dressing very stylish. Follow the advice above and you looking stylish will never come as a surprise to anyone ever again.

  103. Love the article. Quick opinion for firm holdiay party dress. Very casual place so the dress varies greatly among people. Going with a red twill holiday plaid shirt, medium/dark wash jeans. Trying to decide between charcoal or black vest and brown or black shoes. I am a big pile of indecision. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    1. “A big pile of indecision” huh, Bill? Well you get points for having a sense of humor about it.

      If it were the Black Lapel holiday party we’d dress down with the charcoal vest and the brown shoes. The charcoal vest will look better with the texture of the shirt and the brown shoes will keep things from getting too serious. It’s a party, after all.

  104. I picked up an old vest from a thrift shop – medium grey front, brown back. If I pair it with dark blue jeans, do you have any suggestions for a color shirt (and maybe tie too)?

    Thanks!

    1. That’s a pretty neutral combo, Aaron, so don’t stress about matching. Just about every shirt in your closest (barring maybe a black one) will play nicely with this vest and jeans.

      As for ties, match the ruggedness of the jeans and play up the casual look of the outfit with a wool tie like one of these Armstrong & Wilson or Everett ties. You can’t go wrong with any of these under a vest and they also look sharp with a suit during the cooler months.

  105. That’s fab! Thank you!

    1. Glad to be of service!

  106. I am looking at a rocker, psuedo-casual look for New Years; a dark, pale red, short-sleeved shirt (or dark salmon), with black vest and jeans. What would be the best jeans and footwear combo to go with these?

    1. Taking note I no longer have long hair like my avatar suggests; I have a short, faux-hawk style these days.

    2. Short sleeves for New Year’s huh? We’re assuming you’ll be indoors and warm, but we still prefer the rolled up sleeves look to short sleeves when wearing a vest.

      As for pants, it sounds like a casual look so jeans are the way to go, Brian. Lighter ones will work with a black vest. And to take the rocker look all the way, black boots would be in order. They don’t have to be big clodhoppers and they don’t have to be outrageously expensive. Try some of the sleeker, but still durable options from brands like Geox or the beautiful new boot offering from Jack Erwin.

  107. Hi! I’m looking at a charcoal vest with possibly light blue button down – dark blue jeans and a nice pair of brown rock ports…does this work at all? I tried it on and the light blue didn’t seem to mesh with the charcoal but i might just be over thinking it.

    1. Justin, we think you might be over-thinking it but feel free to shoot us a photo of the outfit to our stylists at concierge@blacklapel.com. You know what they say about a picture being worth > 1000 words!

  108. Hi I want a new look for night out. Ive got a really nice pair of black jeans, black shoes, black belt and skinny black tie. Would a white shirt and a light grey waistcoat/vest look good??

    1. You can’t go wrong with the simple black and white combo. Proceed with this look.

      If you do want to step it up a notch, bring a little bit of textural contrast to this look. Try a textured tie or a black and white striped knit tie. Both look great under a vest.

  109. I want to wear matching colored black pants with a vest and tie should the vest be a casual suit vest or a more leather looking style vest, if not a tie what kind of shirt as in a plain one or something with patterns of some sort on it?

    1. Sounds like you’ve got a lot going on, Manna. The goal of your casual outfit should be to look like you just threw something on and it looks great. An overly studied look, that’s too matchy-matchy kills the “devil may care” attitude a casual outfit should embody. Let’s simplify things:

      1. We don’t recommend wearing a tie that matches your pants and vest. You’ll be dangerously close to looking like you’re in uniform and people will start handing you the toothpicks from their hor d’oeuvres. If you’re going to wear a tie at all, wear one with a black background and a colored pattern. Err on the side of too skinny. A power tie without a jacket will overpower any outfit.
      2. We recommend a vest like the ones we showed above. We believe leather vests should only be worn by hot biker chicks and Village People.
      3. As for shirts, there’s no need to get fancy solid white works just fine and will provide a strong counterpoint to any vest (except, of course, a white vest but who wears white vests?).
  110. I’ve got a nice, yet casual, brown tweed jacket that I’ll wear with a pink button down, dark jeans and a nice pair/navy wing tips.

    I’m wondering if a vest can work well here as something casual-cool, possibly a slight step up from casual. Or if not, perhaps a cardigan (I don’t think this works) or a sweater (maybe a sweater vest?) mixed together.

    Would love your thoughts!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That outfit sounds on point, Ross. We wouldn’t suggest putting anything under the jacket that would cover up the shirt since we love pink the pink and brown combo. If you’re looking for another layer to add warmth, add it over the tweed jacket, instead.

      One styling tip on the jeans, though. While we usually love dark jeans we’d suggest going with a lighter shade to really put the emphasis on the navy wingtips and provide some contrast with the brown tweed.

      Stay stylish, Ross.

  111. I have a casual yet high class dinner party this weekend.
    I am planning to wear a blue partywear shirt, a pair of black jeans, a brown collared woolen vest and dark brown sneakers..what do you think?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      What part of “high class dinner party” says sneakers? There’s a reason the well heeled are called “well-heeled.” Unless you’re a successful rapper don’t rock street wear to a dinner party (yes, sneakers count as streetwear).

      Also, black seems like an odd jeans color for wearing with a brown vest. We’d suggest dark wash blue jeans instead.

      As for the shirt, what’s a partywear shirt?

  112. Im going to a Nordstrom interview and was wondering if this outfit would work?
    Im considering tan slacks and a white button down, sleeves wont be rolled up.
    Also Im wearing dress shoes.
    The questions are belt or no belt?
    What color vest?
    What color tie?
    Do you think slacks are ok?

    1. We read your whole comment, but could have stopped reading when we saw the word “interview.” We don’t recommend dressing casually for a job interview. This is not the story to look to for advice on what to wear to an interview. This is.

      Maybe you’re saying, “I’m not interviewing to work in the corporate headquarters, I just want a job selling shoes.” That’s a valid point. You don’t need to go in there with a suit that cost a mint but you should look at the men who work the sales floor at Nordstrom. They’re in the best suits they can afford, you should be too. Follow our advice in the What to Wear to an Interview piece and you’ll make the right impression right off the bat.

  113. Thanks for the info and I’ll have to do something about that Cardinal Sin very soon :)

    I have another, probably more functional question… do you have any tips on how to secure the extra bit of the vest adjustment strap? On my vest the extra bit past the cinch currently hangs down once I set it to my desired fit… any ways to keep it in line with the rest of the sizing strap and prevent a “tail” look?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There are a few different solutions, Dean.

      1) You can loop it through itself like what women do with long skinny belts.

      2) You could have a tailor shorten it for you.

      3) This is ambitious but you could always pick up some sewing skills and shorten it yourself.

  114. My question may be a bit foolish but…

    So I have this nice dark gray vest from Express, solid white dress shirt from Express, dark blue jeans and dark brown suede shoes from JCrew… how big of a sin is it to mix brands? The fabrics don’t clash but is it still a “no no” to mix?

    1. It is a cardinal sin to wear anything besides Black Lapel! (just kidding…sorta).

      Mix it up however you like, Dean.

  115. I have dark grey vest.. Do I need to pair up it with black trousers or dark blue jeans??? Will glossy grey shirt go with it??

    1. Dark pants or dark wash denim are a safe bet with a dark gray vest. It’s always a good idea to match to your buttons so dark buttons on the vest (which a dark gray vest ought to have) means dark pants.

      In our opinion a glossy gray shirt goes best with a stack of clothes to be donated. The only thing in your closet that should be glossy is a pair of well-shined shoes.

      1. Thanks a lot… It was really helpful for me.. Thanks

  116. I got this semi-formal President’s ball event tonight. I was thinking about rocking a vest with a shirt (gray, blue or white). I have 3 vests (black, navy blue and navy blue pin stripes). Should i go khakis or dress pants? And what vest, shirt and tie combo would you suggest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There are a lot of possible combinations here, Dipen. (This comment sounded vaguely like a word problem from the probability section of a math textbook. This isn’t some kind of pop quiz is it?)

      This story is about wearing the vest casually, so usually we would suggest the white shirt, navy blue vest and khakis and a knit tie to pull together this casual look. Still, a “President’s Ball” sounds pretty formal. It begs the question, are you sure casual is what you want to do here? A jacket (either a suit or a blazer) and dress pants might be the way to go.

  117. Rachel Bell says:

    What do you think of vests with designs? Tribal was in for a while and I think we some denim it could work.

    1. We think blankets should remain blankets. Anytime they try to pass themselves off as vests or anything else (like the upholstery in the back seat of the car in Pulp Fiction), it’s a sign that something has gone terribly wrong.

      1. Rachel Bell says:

        Haha! Such a valid statement. I will steer clear.

        1. Im going to a russian interview and was wondering if this outfit would work?

          1. How do interviews go in Russia? If they’re anything like interviews in the U.S., steer clear of anything this casual.

            If there was ever a time to suit up, this is it. We listed a full rundown on what to wear to a job interview a while back. Check it out.

  118. Quick question & opinion. Would it be okay to wear a vest with a nice button up & tie with black slacks to an interview?

    1. Quick answer & opinion: No. The casual vest looks says “I want this job, but not enough to put on a jacket.”

      Yes, you could dress it up some with slacks but it’s not the full suit? Your potential employer is left to think, “if he half-assed his interview suit, he’d probably half-ass the job. Pass!”

      Get things off on the right foot with a proper interview outfit, Franklin.

  119. What about this look being rocked by Chad Michael Murray below? –

    http://collider.com/wp-content/uploads/chad-michael-murray-388×600.jpg

    1. Chad Michael Murray may only have answered “yes” to the first question in our T-shirt + vest quiz above (we’re guessing he’s not particularly handy) but it looks like he’s on his way to the premiere of a horror movie, which is an adequate substitute for a dive bar.

  120. Can a vest be worn whith short sleevs shirts? how about nice dress T shirt?

    1. Can it be worn? Yes, though we would recommend a more casual vest than the third part of a suit and only with a white T-shirt.

      Will you look like Ed Norton on the Honeymooners? Absolutely.

      Can you pull that look off without looking like a doofus? That depends. Take this quiz:

      1. Are you slim?
      2. Can you fix cars (or are you just generally handy)?
      3. Are you headed to a dive bar?

      If you answered yes to two of the three questions above, give this look a try.

  121. Oh man, you’ve broken all the rules here!

    That waistcoat is far too short. You shouldn’t be able to see any of the shirt underneath it from the front or sides.

    This is tied into the second problem – you NEVER wear a belt with a waistcoat! You always wear suspenders beneath it, otherwise the belt creates an unnecessary bulge (a problem you don’t have, as the waistcoat is at an incorrect length).

    Also, while this isn’t a strict rule, nothing really matches here. A BLACK waistcoat, with a BROWN belt, and those shoes.

    A much better pairing would be a properly-fitting waistcoat and black dockers.

    Sorry for bagging on you so bad, but I’m seeing many major faux pas here that are in dire need of correction!

    1. You make some good points, Mr. Logan. Yes, we’ve broken many a rule here but part of the fun of dressing casually is breaking rules.

  122. Need an opinion. I am thinking of wearing a white v-neck t-shirt, gray vest, very dark blue jeans and brown brogues to a casual dinner party. I haven’t tried or seen anything similar but the idea sounds good in my head for some reason. Am I insane?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You’re on the right track with the vest, Jay. The V-neck and the V of the vest are likely to compete, though. A crew neck would help but we reserve the vest with a T-shirt look for lazy Sunday afternoons when we want a certain “I don’t give a damn” quality to our look like Ed Norton from the Honeymooners.

      The fact that you’re thinking ahead about what to wear to this dinner party means you DO give a damn, so wear a button-front shirt. White works with a gray vest (or any other color for that matter), and will work with the rest of the outfit you described.

      1. Thanks for the quick response. I’ll go for button front.

        Thanks again!

        1. Black Lapel says:

          That’s a fine choice, Jay! Knock ’em dead at the dinner party (and bring us a doggie bag). 😉

  123. Thanks, maybe I will go with a darker wash of jeans instead. Appreciate the quick response.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re happy to help, Bo. Sounds like pretty soon you’ll be looking at our wedding attire article!

  124. I am planning on proposing to my girlfriend, I have hired a photographer to capture the surprise. I am telling her we are going to stop at a park in Cleveland, OH before we go out to a nice restaurant (so I can cover why I’m dressing up). I am going to rock the following black, hooded, casual vest with a pair or lighter washed jeans:
    http://www.kohls.com/product/prd-1415577/rock-republic-patterned-hooded-vest.jsp

    Which color shirt/tie combo would you suggest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It sounds like the idea here is to look dressed for the occasion without looking like you’re dressing for “an occasion,” thus giving away the surprise. A silk tie you’d wear with a suit would not only be a dead giveaway that something’s up, but it would also work against your whole casual dining look.

      To match the rugged look of the jeans (though we always prefer darker washes to dress up a pair of jeans and pair our lighter washes with T-shirts and sneakers) and the athletic elements of the vest, keep things sporty with a textured tie like any of the ones we recently featured on Faceboook and a crisp white, button-down collar shirt in a hearty weave like an Oxford or broadcloth. Hint, get the shirt in the slimmest fit possible, so that you don’t get a “muffin top” showing under your vest from all the excess fabric around the waist.

      Good luck, Bo. Knock her socks off!

  125. Can I wear a black vest with a gray suit? Does the vest HAVE to match the same material and pattern as the rest of the suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A three-piece suit, of course, means all three parts match, but you can wear an “odd waistcoat” with a suit. This is a varsity move but one that can look very good when pulled off as this gentleman and this gentleman show us. Their trick (and one you can try if you’d like to try this look) is making sure either the suit or the vest is solid while the other has a pattern.

      Give it a try, the weather will cooperate soon enough.

  126. I like this idea. My partner and I are attending his sister’s garden wedding next month and he would be giving away his sister but he doesn’t want to buy/wear a new suit. I was thinking of having him dressed in dress pants (either black or dark grey), white shirt, burgundy (wedding motif)tie and a vest (not sure what colour). Do you think that would do? What about a black V neck sweater instead of a vest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’re going to pretend we didn’t read the part where you told a custom suit maker about your partner not wanting to buy/wear a new suit and skip to the part about the the black V-neck sweater.

      We lean towards the vest instead of the sweater. Much less can go wrong with a vest. A vest is a classic and getting one that fits is much simpler than getting a sweater that fits. Plus, they’re easier to tailor if you do need fit adjustments. As for a vest color, a little contrast between the pants and vest can go a long way. In the photo above we created contrast with texture (the tougher denim against the softer wool) but going with a stronger colored vest can really make it pop.

      Ok, we can’t get over this whole, no suit thing: This article is titled “How to Wear a Vest CASUALLY.” Is this wedding really that casual? We wouldn’t give away OUR sisters casually. If there were ever a time to wear a suit, this is it.

      If he’s adamant about dressing it down tell him to try one of the more casual looks like #3 or #4 from our What to Wear to a Summer Wedding story. If he doesn’t want to wear a suit it may be because he doesn’t have any that fit him flawlessly. We don’t want to brag but you know what they say…”Once you go Black (Lapel), you never go back.”

  127. Jonathan Douglas says:

    Hope I’m not late to the party… White vest, dark blue Banana Republic jeans, white shirt that has dark/light blue vertical and horizontal lines(slim)… I’m going to a casual outdoorsy wedding, I wondering if i can add in a slim black tie and maybe black or Grey Clarks?? Oh sleeves on shirt rolled I’m a former college Rugby player, and am blessed with big legs so never liked the rolling of pant sleeves. Help!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s a REALLY casual wedding outfit, Jonathan. Go forward with caution, perhaps you should check with the groom before showing up in jeans. If you find that jeans don’t work, try an outfit like #4 in our What to Wear to a Summer Wedding article. This one relies on the sneakers to dress down the suit.

      If you do find the jeans are appropriate, we’d suggest dressing the outfit up a tad with some more formal dress shoes than the Clark’s. A pair of brown dress shoes will definitely do the trick.

      As for the pant legs, the roll in the jeans is completely optional.

  128. I am a tall lanky guy, 6’1″ 155lbs, does a vest combo look good on that body type? Also, could you suggest some combinations to wear to a bachelor party and also to a wedding, keeping in mind that I would prefer darker colors. Thanks!

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The key to making sure things look good on your body type is fit. A vest that’s baggy will make you look even lankier. A vest that hugs your sides will serve you well casually and as a part of a three-piece suit.

      For the wedding, take a look at What to Wear to a Summer Wedding and How to Dress for a Wedding for some good ideas for the wedding. As for the bachelor party, well, that depends on what kind of bachelor party it is, but How to Pack for a Weekend in Vegas ought to get you off on the right foot.

  129. I’m trying to piece together an outfit for an audition. I normally dress casual, but am thinking of dressing it up a bit with a vest. Pink button down, sleeves rolled, with a light gray vest, dark/light jeans (?), possibly white tie with white shoes (?).

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A vest is a great way to bring a touch of formality to an otherwise casual look. The rolled up sleeves look says, “let’s get down to brass tax, folks” from the minute you walk into the room. For the jeans, the darker the wash the more formal they look. anchor the lighter colors up top with dark pants. As for the white tie, we’ve yet to see a white necktie that we liked. Unless you’re auditioning for a role as a 30’s gangster, steer clear of the white tie. A pair of white bucks can work for a summer look but for an audition, keep them really tame. You don’t want the casting people to remember your shoes more than your performance.

  130. Should I go with a pair of slightly faded black jeans? Belt? Color?

    Those shoes look awesome. Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black jeans work, so do dark blue. Faded might look too casual, especially if you switch out the Chucks for brogues. For the belt, go with leather and keep it the same color as the brogues. If the jeans fit perfectly and you don’t need a belt, you can lose it and it’ll keep the vest trim around the waist/hips.

  131. Planning to wear this to a wedding reception. Bright blue button down shirt with a gray vest. Black jeans and gray converse shoes. What do you think?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We say switch out those converse for some brown brogues to keep it classy. It is a wedding after all. 😉

  132. I know I will be wearing dark gray dress pants but will be buying a vest. What about light gray or other colors for the vest (or even a different darker shade? I am still undecided on my shirt color.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      A light gray vest would make for a great casual look, especially during the summer time! Other darker colored vests are fair play too as long as you stay clear of the pinstripes!

  133. Lavender shirt arm rolled, dark blue jeans, dark grey vest and black converse..tie/no tie? what color?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Trav, nice combo! Given that you’re rolling up your sleeves and rocking the Converse, we’ll assume you’re going for a more casual vibe–so we say, no tie. However, if you still feel inclined knot up, a very dark, midnight purple tie would complement the colors in your outfit nicely.

      1. Thank you! I didn’t have time so no tie for me. :) but ill to get a tie later for next time

  134. I was thinking of going with this look with a grey shirt, black tie, and black vest with a dark wash jeans. I was thinking of wearing grey converses as well. Any suggestions?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey Sean! That’s a fine look. If you want our input, how about going with a lighter shirt (like a solid light blue shirt or even a crisp white shirt) for better contrast against the black vest? Also, if you go with a tie, try a knit tie. It’ll help achieve that dressed-down look you’re going for. Hope that helps!

  135. I’m going to a casual dinner/conference, and I Was wondering if I can wear a vest with dress pants without a suit, because the ocasion is not too formal.
    Thanks

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We’d rock it. :) Sounds like the perfect opportunity to vest up and leave an impression!

  136. I looked at this and immediately had 3 questions:
    1)Can I wear this with the shirt untucked
    2)Can I wear this without a belt
    3)Should the pants be rolled?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Bryn, here are our answers:
      1) We recommend keep your shirt tucked as too much of the shirt billowing out from underneath the vest can tend to look sloppy. The exception to this is if the shirt you are wearing underneath is short enough to be hidden underneath the vest.
      2) Yes, you can.
      3) No, the pants don’t have to be rolled, but it does add that small casual touch to dress down the look.

      Hope that helps!

  137. I always see these kinds of posts with examples of suits or vests that are black, but never grey. I’m new to the party and only have one suit, a three-piece grey Perry Ellis suit. I really want to get the vest some casual action, but I’m feeling slightly insecure about wearing it with jeans. Is this advisable, or should I simply get a black vest if I want to look good casually wearing a vest?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Travis, a gray vest makes for an absolutely fine pairing. You’ve got nothing to worry about. If you’d like, send us (concierge@blacklapel.com) a pic of an outfit you’d like to rock and our stylists will give you a second opinion! :)

  138. I personally like to wear a vest and matching pants with an odd jacket; it gives it a casual look, but not as casual as the example in this post.

    Also, although it works with jeans, avoid wearing a belt with a vest in any other situation at all costs.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Great suggestion Brandon. Mixing and matching vest and jacket fabrics is a smart option for dressing down a vested & trousers look. Just to add to your point on going belt-less, side tabs on your suit pants is a great alternative to wearing a belt if you’re looking to avoid that extra bulk at the bottom of your vest. It creates a cleaner look, especially if everything fits the way it should. :)

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