The three-piece suit isn’t much of a staple item in the closets of many Fashionistos. The reality is that unless a wedding, fancy soiree or ball are to be attended, there is just no need for it. Most guys also like to think that the vest is forever united with the blazer. (“I now pronounce thee suit and blazer,” said the tailor.) In other words, if the vest came with the suit, it will be worn with the suit and only the suit. Well here’s the truth: vests are not inseparable from suits. The vest or waistcoat can stand alone (although not alone entirely) and can be used to complement many looks from casual to classy and elegant.

This week’s Fashionisto took a very relaxed approach to the vest. On top, he wore a red tartan plaid button-up, with the sleeves rolled up right below the elbow, which he layered with an ash gray striped vest. His teal chino pants provided a nice contrast against his red button-up, which leads us to suspect that this Fashionisto paid a great deal of attention in art class, applying his knowledge of complementary colors to his style. Simple square-framed sunglasses are perfect to keep the sun’s rays at bay. Subtle jewelry, such as his silver necklace with an anchor pendant, are always a nice complement to any ensemble.

The vest is indeed a great investment; it can be paired with matching trousers and a skinny tie when the occasion calls or on a day when you need to give your go-to blazer a much needed break. The great thing about this vest is that you can find them at almost every outfitter, with the choice of purchasing them without a coordinating blazer. Grays, blues, blacks and browns are typically safe colors, and twill, cotton and wool never fail. To recreate this Fashionisto’s casual take on the vest, start with a button-up shirt, plain or patterned, with the sleeves rolled up. To lessen the seriousness of the look, layer with a solid-colored vest and pair it with camel-colored chino pants. (ASOS is a great resource for finding all of these items.) Finish off the look with canvas sneakers and sunglasses!    

HINT: I strongly discourage wearing a vest by itself. While I can appreciate the simplicity, this can make your outfit look thrown together at the last minute and unplanned, as if you’ve forgotten to wear a shirt, and devastatingly messy and Jersey Shore-ish. It's also best to stay away from loud or oddly-patterned vests when wearing it sans blazer, as it can resemble grandpa’s golfing outfit.

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LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS: A Wise In(vest)ment

Every year when rag & bone has its seasonal sample sales, you can bet I am within the first 20 people or so eagerly waiting to grab the latest denim styles, leather-accented outerwear or moto boots. Besides the fact that rag & bone fabrics are wonderful quality, and their designs are always a perfect fit, I love the brand’s relaxed, yet distinct, downtown feel. It was no surprise I was drawn to this week’s Fashionisto’s style who wore rag & bone from head to toe. Although pieces can get pricey, a smart shopper splurges on a few items that are able to be layered and worn regardless of the season.

Beginning with a plaid shirt and dark wash jeans, this week’s Fashionisto chooses a classic red and blue combination independent of seasonal color trends. For alternative plaid shirt options, try a J.Crew shirt with a blue base or a Club Monaco shirt with an olive or red base. 

This Fashionisto’s standout item is his navy and asphalt grey waistcoat. Depending on how it is worn, a vest can easily manipulate the look you want to exude. By choosing a linen or striped vest, or by opting for a more formal waistcoat with a pop of pattern on the back, you can dress down or dress up your look. Topman, a Fashionisto favorite, also features an array of options — so boys, there is no excuse to shy away from trying out this versatile piece for yourself. 

The key to a quality look is finding that perfect transitional item that can even be worn from day to night. By putting the “vest” in “investment,” this Fashionisto nailed his look and proved that a vest indeed can make a basic look a fashion-driven ensemble.

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