How to Style Sweater Vest for Men (With Pictures)

Men often associate sweater vests with nerds and geeks, or worse or grandpas.

However, thanks to handsome celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Harry Styles, and Shawn Mendes, as well as popular rappers like Tyler, the Creator, the sweater vest is making a comeback.

Here are some of the best sweater vest outfit ideas for men. I’ve broken it down into four different, yet simple techniques on how to style a sweater vest for men.

All you need is a plain tee shirt

Often, you don’t need to overthink what to wear with a sweater vest – all you need is a simple tee shirt. This look is perfect for when it’s cool outside, but not quite time for a full coat.

Ryan Gosling certainly looks stylish wearing a plain white tee shirt underneath a blue Lacoste sweater vest. He paired well with gray-wash denim jeans and washed brown shoes.

Or, you could copy the simple approach of Tyler, the Creator. Notice that no matter the color and pattern of his sweater vest, he always wears a plain white tee shirt underneath.

Again, you don’t have to overthink it. Wear a white tee shirt as the canvas and let your sweater vest become the highlight of your outfit – the more bizarre the better.

Or, you could go for basic colors like black and navy blue.

When going for this look, pair your sweater vest with neutral-colored jeans or trousers, making sure that the tee shirt underneath is tucked in to keep your overall style neat and clean. 

You could sport athletic shoes, but I think this look pairs better with a pair of loafers, boots, or even casual sneakers like Converse with your ensemble if you’re going for a laid-back vibe.

This modern approach of layering a sweater vest over a short-sleeved tee shirt is so simple, yet it has already been done by Hollywood actors and popular American rappers.

Pair a sweater vest with a button down

This is the most classic sweater vest outfit idea for men.

A classic button-down shirt is a great option to pair with a sweater vest. You can’t go wrong with this combination because this is how sweater vests are intended to be worn anyway.

For a more formal look, choose a crisp white shirt and tuck it into your pants. If you want a more casual look, leave the shirt untucked and roll up the sleeves.

The goal here is to look clean and dapper, so choose a slim-fitting shirt along with a perfectly sized sweater vest. Ideally, you’d pair both tops with a pair of tailored trousers.

For accessories, you could add a neutral-colored tie underneath the sweater vest.

Choose a solid-colored tie that works with the sweater vest and the shirt underneath, then tuck the ends of the tie into the vest so that only the knot and up to a few inches of the tie show.

And for shoes, I’d opt for a formal-looking pair like loafers and dress shoes.

I usually recommend going for a plain button-down shirt, but a patterned shirt could work to add some visual interest to the outfit. Just make sure the colors complement each other.

Go oversized

Forget the skinny jeans and slim-fit shirts – baggy style is back, and that is certainly the case with sweater vests. You know that they say, “The bigger the better”.

The combination of an oversized sweater vest over an oversized tee shirt or button-down shirt works because it lends to a more flowing silhouette rather than a strict one.

Going oversized means that you’re taking the previous approach of layering a sweater vest over a tee shirt, but wearing a bigger size than you would normally go for.

Many of the new oversized pieces are deliberately designed to not fit perfectly.

But that doesn’t mean you have to worry about tucking in trailing hems or rolling up sleeves. These bigger volumes look better if they’re displayed to their full extent.

If you’re pairing an oversized sweater vest with an oversized button-down shirt, you might even want to “up the looseness” by leaving a couple of buttons undone on the shirt.

I do think it helps to give these pieces that sense of effortlessness.

Nevertheless, the choice to combine an oversized sweater vest with an oversized shirt and trousers is a styling trick I’m sure even more law-abiding stylists will be tempted to copy.

Wear ONLY the sweater vest

Still keeping with the theme of keeping things simple, one of the best ways to style a sweater vest is to wear ONLY the sweater vest. That’s right, wear nothing underneath.

This unique approach of wearing a sweater vest for men has already been co-signed by Shawn Mendes, so you’d certainly be in stylish company were you to give it a go.

I think wearing only the sweater vest is one of the sexiest ways to style it, especially if you’ve been working hard at the gym. It’s a chance to show off your biceps and triceps.

Just make sure to get the right fit. If it’s too loose, you’ll appear pudgy. If it’s too tight, you’ll look like a sausage casing. This is where most people commit the biggest sweater vest sin.

The perfect fit? You’ll need to have enough room to move around without feeling constricted, but not too much space that the waistline sags and the armholes bulge.

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