28 In Anatomy of an Outfit

How to dress up a vest for a casual chic outfit

One of the oldest, but still-used items in my wardrobe is this burgundy puffy vest from J.Jill. It’s got to be at least ten years old. This year I’m singing its praises even louder than when I first purchased it.

I love the classic color, the sheen, and the large-scale, box quilt design. The nearly-standup collar makes me feel practically regal while also keeping my neck warm. When it comes to quilted vests, this one looks less traditional and more sophisticated, good for a city girl and just my style.

Wearing the vest in private over pajamas

Sure, I’m happy wearing this J.Jill vest around the house. I slip it on over my pajamas in the morning as I head to my writing table to do my Morning Pages. It’s great for cutting the morning chill in the house.

I throw it over my pajamas at the end of the night, like a bed jacket, and sit in bed reading for an hour.

But this vest is restless. It wants to be out and about in all the other parts of my life. I can’t argue with that.

Taking my vest public

So how do I create an outfit to showcase this wonderful utilitarian piece? I bring on the jewels. My plan is to bring in some elegance.

Before I add jewelry, I reach for my Tippi burgundy thin, wool sweater in a deeper shade of burgundy. I plan to create a color impact by layering only burgundy tones on the top half of my body. I don’t want contrast or prints. The teamed up solid colors will help me create that sophisticated casual look I’m going for.

I’ve got my burgundy sweater, burgundy vest, and now I add a necklace that relates to this luscious color. I choose my double-layered Sol Sisters beaded leather tassel necklace. It brings shine that relates to the shine of the vest. The necklace has presence and creates a soft, dramatic focal point. I love how it extends nearly the full length of the vest.

Eyewear keeps with the color story

It doesn’t hurt that I’m wearing my Uber Optics red and burgundy frames. Along with my lipstick shade, all color roads are leading to my face, which is where I want the eye to land.

Skinny jeans balance out the puffy vest

To keep this casual outfit looking a little fancy, I’m wearing my darkest indigo skinny jeans. The puffy top half of my outfit makes the skinny jeans a natural choice. I like wearing puffy things with skinny things.

Now that I’ve created some elegance, I’m going to funk up the outfit with my beat-up looking Lucky Brand booties (they came like that) and my suede, fringed Liebeskind little shoulder bag. The warm tone in the boots and bag creates the casual feel that I want. The bag is big enough to hold money, a small journal and pen, my lipstick and my phone.

See how easy that was?

Now I’m ready to meet you for coffee at Sunflower Cafe in Sonoma. Would 2:30 work for you?

Are you a fan of vests? How do you wear them inside or outside your house? We’d love to know!

XO

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28 Comments

  • Reply
    Inez
    February 12, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    I love vests! Long, short, puffy or sleek, they add interest and help to disguise the problematic middle area. I’ve even been known to take a sleeveless shirt dress and wear it open, like a vest, over a simple tee and slim pants. That color looks amazing on you!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:54 pm

      Thanks, Inez for sharing that great tip about wearing a dress as a vest. I’ve done that from time to time myself. I think it looks so stylish. I’m gonna run now and check my closet for shirt dresses!

  • Reply
    Jules
    February 12, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    I wore a lot of menswear vests in college, influenced of course by Diane Keaton. I am 5 feet tall and one of my male friends dubbed me Annie Small. Have gotten away from them, but just bought my 24 year old daughter a puffer vest in navy. Perhaps it’s time for them again.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      Oh, Jules, sounds like a good time to revisit the vest for you! I think they’re great for spring too. They give you a third piece that’s super lightweight (if it’s a lightweight one!).

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Kay
    February 13, 2020 at 5:23 am

    How I wish I was in Sonoma today!! But I’m all the way over in Atlanta. I would love to meet you at the Sunflower Cafe☺️ I so enjoy your writing, and your style.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      Thanks so much, Elizabeth. I hope you had a great day in Atlanta!

  • Reply
    Jane
    February 13, 2020 at 7:47 am

    I live in Oregon and a vest is my “go to” most of the spring, fall and winter. Jeans, sweater and vest and I am out the door! I have them in black, navy, blue, red, black and white check, and leopard. I wear a jacket only if it is very cold or pouring rain. I love my vests.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:52 pm

      I love hearing about your great use of vests! Thanks, Jane.

  • Reply
    JoAnn
    February 13, 2020 at 10:09 am

    Well, Miss Brenda, a while ago you did a post on ramping up lipstick to a brighter, not darker, color. So, I hit up the Ulta web site and zeroed in on the Revlon lipstick page. After much angst, I dropped “Wine with Everything,” “Ruby Flash,” and “Fuchsia Fusion” (all shades within my color pallet but much brighter and with more zing than I have ever dared to wear) in my cart. I hemmed and hawed for several days, not sure if I could work up the courage to hit the “checkout” button. After all, I’m too old for such a bright splash on my face. We older gals are told to scale back on color when it comes to anything on or near our face; we are to keep our lipstick colors subdued. But, I held my breath, tapped the button, and a few days later, my new lipstick shades arrived. I practiced wearing my new colors at home for several days so that I could get used to my look, and I wasn’t ready for anyone else to see my face with such a colorful mouth. After a couple of weeks and checking with my husband first for his opinion with regard to my bright “smile,” we headed to church. Hm…The first Sunday I wore “Wine with Everything.” My dear friend whom I have known for more than 60 years said, “Your hair is so pretty.” No new changes to my hair. The next Sunday, I wore “Ruby Flash.” Another long time friend complimented my necklace. The necklace was not new; she had seen it many times. The following Sunday, I wore “Fuchsia Fusion,” and another friend commented about my new jacket. My jacket was a couple of years old; I had worn it many times. Today I am going grocery shopping. I think I will try mixing a little “Fuchsia Fusion” with “Ruby Flash,” and Sunday is close at hand…perhaps a bit more mixing…oh, what fun! Who knew!

    • Reply
      Anne
      February 13, 2020 at 12:55 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement. I’ve been too shy to wear my former brighter lipstick shades.

      • Reply
        Brenda
        February 13, 2020 at 4:48 pm

        I’m cheering you on from Sonoma!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:51 pm

      Isn’t this the funniest thing? I LOVED your telling of your lipstick adventures. I’m still chuckling! Well, you have to admit that it’s working. It’ll be fun to hear what someone says this week in church. Big hugs for sharing this with us. Keep up the bright lips!

  • Reply
    Sharon
    February 13, 2020 at 10:56 am

    Brenda-I’ve missed you!!! I do understand you have been very busy with other areas of your consulting. (And the passing of your father. I’m so sorry!) Hoping you will get back to your more frequent posts. I get so much information from them. Thank you and I wish I could join you for coffee today!!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:49 pm

      A girl can dream, right? You guys are so great in this community. I’d love to have coffee and get to know everyone better. I’m still here. Just dealing with life. Thanks for your thoughts about my Dad.

  • Reply
    Phyllis
    February 13, 2020 at 12:57 pm

    Wow, Brenda. You look chic. Is there ever a color you CAN’T wear?

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:48 pm

      Oh, Phyllis, I bet there are quite a few! But thanks!

  • Reply
    Cathy D.
    February 13, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    I agree with Sharon. More frequent posts would be great!!! Why? Because I always learn something new and useful from them. Also, your posts are so much fun to read. Today’s post reminded me that I have a black Eileen Fisher vest with a stand up collar, not unlike yours, that’s been hiding in the back of the closet. How could I have such a great piece and not wear it? That’s going to change today, thanks to you.

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:47 pm

      Ah, that vest needs to move up to a front and center position in your closet! Hope you have fun styling it, Cathy! I’m working on ideas for posts for next week.

  • Reply
    Sandi
    February 13, 2020 at 3:14 pm

    You and your vest look fabulous. Funny thing, I have two and barely ever where them. I might try wearing my navy down over my teal jacket (like you did in a previous post) tomorrow to a middle school BB game. At least then it would get some wear. Happy Valentines Day to you & Russ !

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:46 pm

      Sandi, I can totally see you rocking this look! I hope you do bring them out. Add one of your great scarves! Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Paul.

  • Reply
    Lois Williams
    February 13, 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Love vests, dressy ones, colorful ones, utilitarian one, I must have 15 or more. Some dressier ones are great for the office in winter, the colorful ones are part of my casual look spring & fall & the utilitarian, super warm down ones are great on the slopes if it’s not super cold.
    Would loves to have seen a pic of those booties!

    • Reply
      Brenda
      February 13, 2020 at 4:45 pm

      You’re a vest aficionado! I went and took a look at the post and realized I’d accidentally deleted the full-length photo of the outfit! If you check back again, you’ll see the booties, jeans, and rolled cuffs. Thanks for the heads up! I pressed “publish” just as I was dashing into the final elegant dinner of the 3-day retreat I put on for style and image consultants. I’m so glad you let e know!

  • Reply
    Jeri Ray
    February 13, 2020 at 5:52 pm

    I love vests. They are a staple in my closet – all 6 of them. My usual basics are sweater and jeans so adding a vest finishes the look. My navy/white striped t-shirt, straight leg blue denim, and red puffy vest always get positive feedback.

  • Reply
    Julia Purtill
    February 13, 2020 at 7:58 pm

    Dear Brenda, I’m new to posting here. I look forward to your posts for the fashion tips but I love to hear about your family. I am so sorry for the passing of your father. I felt your pain in your words and I wanted to hug you. I lost my mother 2 years ago and I still miss her. Time helps but it will always be there. I’m so glad you gave your daughters and Baby Viv! I love vests too, they add that 3rd piece that makes an outfit pulled together and they are not as worrisome as a coat. Thank you for posting for us!
    Julia

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    February 13, 2020 at 8:57 pm

    Oh, how I’d love to meet you for coffee! Only I’d have to have tea as coffee doesn’t agree with my stomach. Here on the Canadian prairie, warm fleece and quilted vests are a staple in my winter wardrobe. I especially love my Uniqlo ultra light down vest. While preparing my Fashion Friday post for tomorrow morning about trends for spring 2020, I learned that menswear inspired vests are back in style again. I’m kicking myself for not keeping the ones I wore back in the 1980s!

  • Reply
    Nancy Molstad
    February 14, 2020 at 4:43 am

    I’ve been collecting vests for a year. I have a vest from Eddie Bauer that has lots of pockets to hold the items I need for my rural life. My drawstring-waist vest from Maurice’s is lightweight and is a great background for casual brooches and pins. I still need/want more vests!

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    February 14, 2020 at 8:38 am

    I want your outfit in my closet! I’m having vest envy! Ilove vests! I have five of them. One in white that I wear in the warmer months when I get a chill. Then I have a medium blue denim type one for a column look with jeans, a black one with faux fur on the collar for winter pizazz , a bright red one with gorgeous dark leather toggle buttons that are like accessories, and lastly a forest green one for when I am feeling earthy. Oh! Forgot the dusty pink one my daughter gave me this past Christmas! Make that six! I’m somewhat hot blooded so usually wear them in the dead of winter with a fleece or sweaters in lieu of a coat. Love them!
    You look stunning in burgundy and yet so comfy! Love that color. Liz

  • Reply
    Elizabeth
    February 14, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Oh Brenda….I’m ashamed to admit that I actually own seven of them! I forgot about my navy. A standard classic navy blue with pale lavender lining…. ‍♀️one for each day of the week?…. Well, I do love them! Lol.
    Happy Valentines Day! Liz

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