When the weather is unpredictable, the age-old advice for dressing is to layer, layer, and layer some more. But you can only wear a leather jacket or chunky cardigan so many times before you’re bound to crave something different—that’s where vests come in. Because it’s not as bulky as either of the aforementioned garments, the vest is a great transitional piece for days when you’re not quite sure how to dress for the weather but want to make sure you’re keeping your core warm.
Byrdie Researched & Approved
Universal Standard’s Comfort Panel Sport Puffer Vest earned the top spot on this list for its impressive size range and clean design. However, if you’re looking for a super budget-friendly pick, H&M's Jacquard Knit Sweater Vest is a great bang for your buck and the perfect pairing for your most beloved baggy jeans.
To suit a variety of lifestyles, dress codes, and tastes, we searched the internet for the best vests for women available now. See and shop for them, ahead.
Universal Standard Comfort Panel Sport Puffer Vest
One detail we love about this puffer vest, and what earned it the top spot on this list, is its wide size range, which means comfort and style for all. Size-inclusiveness is the most notable “standard” to expect from the label, which produces all of its clothing in sizes 4XS to 4XL. Here, you can expect a vest that’s lightweight but warm and, thus, practical. Wear it over activewear for a walk in the park or under a trench coat for a casual night out on the town.
Price at time of publish: $158
Size Range: 4XS–4XL | Color Options: Lilac, Midnight, Ocean Blue | Material: 100% polyester
H&M Jacquard Knit Sweater Vest
Knit nerds know that a cropped sweater vest and a baggy pair of low-rise jeans make for the perfect duo for those days when you don’t know what to wear these days. For newbies, a great entry point is this cable knit striped vest from H&M that loosely hits right below the waistline. The dark navy and green striped combo will contrast well with an assortment of denim washes, styles, colors, and more.
Price at time of publish: $18
Size Range: XXS–XL | Color Options: Dark Blue/Striped | Material: 100% acrylic
Athleta Downtown Vest
This puffer vest has all the specs of a great athleticwear piece and then some. It’s waterproof and snag-resistant, thanks to its durable recycled polyester material sourced from post-consumer plastic bottles. Reviewers say it’s warm, too—no doubt because of its down insulation, which the brand pledges to have been sourced responsibly. In terms of styling, it would do well as your last layer in a Pilates outfit or thrown over a hoodie and worn with baggy jeans, sneakers, and a baseball cap.
Price at time of publish: $80 on sale for Dark Sardina Blue and Foliage Orange
Size Range: XXS–3X | Color Options: Black, Foliage Orange, Dark Sardina Blue | Material: Recycled polyester
Best On Amazon
Amazon Essentials Women's Mid-Weight Puffer Vest
If you want a puffer vest that’s fitted and unbulky, try this highly-rated Amazon Essentials option for under $50. It’s an affordable layering piece that you’ll get use out of all spring, fall, and winter long.
Price at time of publish: $45 for Black
Size Range: XS–XXL | Color Options: Black, Burgundy, Charcoal Heather, Dark Camel, Ivory, and more | Material: 100% polyester
Girlfriend Collective Pine Recycled Fleece Vest
You can never go wrong with a simple fleece number. Wear this one from Girlfriend Collective with your activewear or over your favorite chunky sweater to keep cozy. The neutral color options make it easy to team with other fashion items in general. Plus, it’s made of a fabric derived from recycled plastic bottles, so you can feel good about its impact, too.
Price at time of publish: $74 on sale
Size Range: XXS–6XL | Color Options: Pine, Scout (tan), Raisin, White | Material: Body made from 100% recycled plastic bottles (RPET); binding and pocketing made from 90% RPET, 10% spandex
Reformation Devin Twill Vest
A subtle V-neckline, functional center buttons, and a fitted shape are the three necessary features for turning a suit-like vest into a day-to-night piece that you can wear to grab drinks with co-workers or even go on a date after hours. Get even more use out of it by donning it solo, as the product images show, on a Saturday night on the town.
Price at time of publish: $128
Size Range: 0–12 | Color Options: Black, Mushroom, Oyster | Material: 100% TENCEL™ lyocell
Best Cable Knit
English Factory Cable Sweater Vest
A cable knit vest adds a touch of preppiness to an otherwise minimalist shirt-and-jeans outfit. It tends to look great on everyone, which makes it a great entry point for those just embarking on their vest journey. This one by English Factory is one such example and comes at a good price to boot. Style-wise, it's similar to Everlane’s uber-popular Cloud Cable-Knit Vest (now sold out in every color it was offered in) but less chunky and perhaps, therefore, better for spring or mild fall weather. The biggest con is that it’s only offered up to size large and therefore precludes many plus-size shoppers from purchasing it to wear themselves.
Price at time of publish: $80
Size Range: XS–L | Color Options: Grey, Red, and Ivory | Material: 50% acrylic, 45% nylon, 5% wool
Everlane The Cashmere Vest
Everlane is giving cashmere a “second life” by choosing to weave recycled fibers into its products. This vest is made almost entirely from recycled cashmere and wool. Its fit is slightly boxy and shrunken. Its details include ribbing along the armholes and V-neckline. Wear yours with jeans and loafers.
Price at time of publish: $110
Size Range: XXS–XL | Color Options: Light Camel, Kumquat, Bone, Bright Navy | Material: 94% recycled cashmere and 6% recycled wool for body; 88% recycled cashmere, 6% nylon, 5% recycled wool, and 1% elastane for trimming
Pinch Vega Knit Ribbed Oversized Sweater Vest
Oversized sweater vests are the way to go if you want to layer loosely. PINCH’s iteration, for instance, can be worn with a turtleneck sweater, a blouse, or a T-shirt with plenty of room left to breathe. It’s cozy and chic but also versatile, as you can even wear the piece in the summer with a bralette and boyfriend denim shorts.
Price at time of publish: $98
Size Range: S–L | Color Options: Grey | Material: 52% acrylic, 28% nylon, 20% polyester
Honor the Gift Bonded Vegan Leather Vest
This vegan leather vest from Honor The Gift is like an updated high school letterman jacket, with its cropped cut and monochrome palette. Make this a part of your weekend uniform, along with a graphic T-shirt and a pair of baggy jeans.
Price at time of publish: $90
Size Range: XS–XXL | Color Options: Olive, Black, Sand | Material: Synthetic
1.STATE Cabled Turtleneck Sweater Vest
This 1.State turtleneck sweater is so versatile. In the summer, you can use it to keep your inner coastal grandmother alive by wearing it with a pair of white linen trousers and sandals, while in the off-season, you can wear it to keep your palette light. Simply pair it with your best white midi skirt or pair of tailored trousers.
Price at time of publish: $89
Size Range: XXS–XL | Color Options: Oatmeal | Material: 73% acrylic, 24% polyester, 3% spandex
Meet the Expert
What To Look For In Vests
If you don’t fancy an oversized style, then keep an eye out for vests with a subtly relaxed fit. These vests provide enough room to wear with other pieces of clothing for layering, as an oversized one would, but with the opportunity to showcase your figure a tad more. For a super fitted, ’90s-style look, tailored vests are a great value for their versatility.
Mary Wilson, a styling team lead at Stitch Fix believes in the importance of thinking about where you plan to wear your vest and keeping in mind some general shopping principles, like if the piece will work for your lifestyle and your current wardrobe, and if it feels comfortable. “Matching your purchase to your desired occasion ensures that you’ll reach for your vest often,” she tells Byrdie.
How well a given vest works for you speaks to its performance. Most vests have a basic use: layering over other clothes to add warmth and sartorial flair. Some have added benefits, too, like waterproofness or a “carryall” function thanks to a trove of functional pockets. You can assess this by taking note of the garment’s specifications in the product description.
Having a thorough knowledge of materials is paramount to finding the perfect vest. The warmest vests are often made of wool and cashmere, but if you’re looking for something with waterproofness, then you should consider a puffer made from a synthetic material and a down or down-alternative fill. (For the fill, it’s worth reading reviews to make sure that it is indeed substantially warm.)
How do you wear a puffer vest?
Puffer vests go with everything from activewear leggings to loose denim jeans. For those extra-crisp mornings, Wilson recommends styling it up with winter accessories like a knitted hat, gloves, and face-shielding sunglasses.
How do you style a sweater vest?
Gone are the days of the sweater vest being typecast as a Clueless cosplay piece. Wilson’s go-to formula? A sweater vest over a button-down dress and rounded out with tennis shoes and gold jewelry. For an office-friendly look, she suggests pairing the piece with straight-leg chino pants and a crisp blouse.
How do you wash a vest?
How you should care for your vest depends on its material, so you should check out the care label for the item at hand to see if dry cleaning, hand washing, or machine washing is recommended. However, in a pinch, a small stain can likely be removed from certain fabrics by rubbing it gently with a damp cloth and mild soap.
Why Trust Byrdie
Madison San Miguel is a fashion commerce contributor at Dotdash Meredith covering everything from the latest style trends to the best Amazon finds. Aside from Byrdie, her work can be found in InStyle, Bustle, Elite Daily, Brides, Travel + Leisure, V Magazine, and more.
Olivia Muenter is a fashion commerce contributor for Byrdie, and she has been published in Refinery29, Bustle, Fashionista, Glamour, and Woman’s Day, among others. Her search for this piece covered retailers of all types. For this roundup's criteria, she evaluated customer reviews, size range, versatility, and style.
According to our Diversity Pledge, 15% of products in our newly-published market roundups will feature Black-owned and/or Black-founded brands. At the time of publishing, we were not able to find enough vests from Black-owned and/or Black-founded businesses to meet this percentage. If you know of one we should consider, please email us at email@example.com, and we will evaluate the product ASAP.