Once only a warm and practical undergarment, the informal approach to modern fashion has led vests to become an essential part of a woman's summer wardrobe. There are many ways to make use of this versatile, useful top and you don't have to just wear it alone. Leisurewear doesn't come naturally to everyone, but vests can look smart and stylish too, if you wear them in the right way.
As a wardrobe basic, wear vests alone or under a sheer top that would otherwise be too revealing. Similarly, pop a vest under a shirt or dress that falls too low. Wearing a vest like this is handy if you have recently lost weight but not bought a whole new wardrobe, as it provides cover under a gaping neckline. The best vests for this kind of wear are slim fitting and fine textured. Choose cotton for comfort but with a little stretch so that the vest sits close to the body and doesn't add bulk under your other clothes. These vests are also ideal under a dance-style baggy cropped top, meaning you do not have to reveal your bellybutton and ribs.
As well as being ideal to layer under garments, you can also wear vests on top of other clothes. A vest over a fitted long-sleeved T-shirt has a dancewear look. Wear a vest over a smart shirt for a modern take on the waistcoat. The best vests for layering over clothing are made from a thicker material, which could be heavy jersey or a woven fabric. Choose substantial straps, which sit firmly over other fabric, rather than spaghetti straps. A fitted vest worn in this style looks more formal. Wear a loose, flowing vest like this to create a casual tunic look over other clothing. You could fasten this with a waist belt or just leave it to drape.
If you're searching for a slightly more formal or structured shape to wear with a full skirt or Capri pants, try a halter-neck or racer-back shaped vest. Both these shapes show off the shoulders, so have the effect of making the waist look slimmer. A racer-back is the sportier of the two, so it can add a casual feel to your outfit, being ideal for dressing down a flamboyant skirt. Halter-necks, which leave the back of the shoulders bare and fasten at the nape of the neck, are ideal for injecting a little '50s glamour into a casual modern outfit.
Vests worn outside of a sports context can look scruffy and sometimes a bit too revealing. Selecting the right underwear dictates the overall shape of your vest and whether it comes across as cool yet relaxed, or just like beachwear. Always choose a well-fitting bra to give some structure under the vest. Being made from soft material, such as jersey, vests do not naturally structure your shape. If wearing a vest with spaghetti straps or a halter-neck or racer-back vest, wear a bra with adjustable straps rather than regular over-the-shoulder ones. Adjustable-strap bras allow you to fasten your underwear cross-wise and often around the midriff, rather than over the shoulders, so your underwear stays under your clothing and not on display.
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