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Fashion Challenge: Wear a Winter Vest


Celebrities wearing winter vests

One of the best ways to battle the cold and look perfectly seasonal during winter is to wear a cozy cold weather vest. Before you say anything, hear me out: There are ways to do so without a) looking like you’re about to go skiing, b) evoking images of the Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters, or c) having people ask why you’re wearing a life preserver, like Marty McFly in Back to the Future. All it takes is a little creative styling.

So next time you’re having the dreaded “sweatpant” battle (my roommate keeps the house at 68 degrees, so I grapple with this decision on a daily basis) reach instead for a fuzzy pair of socks, the softest thermal top you own, and a warm winter vest. They come in tons of styles and materials, so you’re bound to find one you like.

Ready to take on the challenge? Read on for more ideas!

Tips and Tricks for Pulling off a Winter Vest

  • Pull out your down vest! These can be worn places other than the slopes, as long as you keep other things in your outfit cute, simple, and girly. Go for the belted variety if you’re worried about too much bulk.
  • Try out a fleece or Sherpa version. They’ll go with any long sleeved shirt and pair of jeans you have in your closet. Here in Oklahoma, the boys LOVE pairing their fleece Columbia vests with a button-down Polo dress shirt (oh, frat boys) but for a girl, they’re most often paired with a v-neck or circle neck shirt or turtleneck.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting creative. The right vest could look great with a dress or skirt – try out different combos and experiment!
  • Add style with accessories. Throw on a necklace, headband, ring, or hat with your vest for added flair.
  • Wear them on fickle weather days. Vests are the perfect way to balance out sunny-yet-windy days. They’ll block your chest from the chill (and keep you from getting cold) but allow your arms to breathe so you can avoid awkward sweat stains.
  • The Knit Sweater Debate. Unless you’re going for a Rachel Berry look (or attending a tacky Christmas sweater party) it’s generally best to avoid vests with appliques or pictures knit into them. (Obviously, if you have great style and want to rock one of these for a challenge, more power to you!) On the other hand, a chunky knit vest can look chic if it’s simple and styled just right.

Outfit Ideas

Outfit 1: Casual Look for Class

Vest, Thermal, Jeans, Socks, Hat, Boots

This is a great outfit, perfect for walking to class on a chilly morning. Put on your favorite pair of jeans and a basic long-sleeved top — bonus points if you wear one purloined from a little brother’s or best guy friend’s closet! Down vests are insanely warm, and by wearing one over a slim shirt, you’ll have all of the warmth, without being reminiscent of a snowman. Finish the outfit with a warm pair of socks, riding boots, and a beanie.

Outfit 2: Step Up the Style

Vest, Sweater Dress, Leggings, Boots, Headband, Necklace

This would be a great outfit for when you want to be on-trend but still plenty warm! Start with leggings and a basic sweater dress. A fuzzy hooded vest will look cute and give the dress a casual feel. Finally, a pair of warm boots, a gold necklace, and a simple headband will give this outfit the right girly touch.

Rocked the Challenge? Send in Photos!

Did you wear a warm winter vest this week? Send in your pictures at fashionchallenge AT along with your name, college, a brief description of what you’re wearing, and the URL of your blog if you have one. We’ll post your pictures here to inspire other CF readers!


Do you have a favorite vest you like to wear during the winter? Do you think they’re cool, or tacky? What other challenges would you like to see in the future? Let us know with a comment!

Posted on on November 18, 2010 / Filed Under: Fashion Tips / Tags: , ,

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25 Responses to “Fashion Challenge: Wear a Winter Vest”

  1. 1
    November 18th, 2010 at 10:21 am

    Oh my god. I bought the most amazing cream colored knit vest this summer with blue and coral trim and cats on the front!
    I guess you can say it’s very Rachel Berry, or hipster-ish as my boyfriend says, but I love it!! I haven’t wore it yet because I never know what to wear with it.

    Any tips?

  2. 2
    November 18th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I have one that I wear ALL the time! I love it! Its simple and black/quilted…but it seriously goes with SO much!

  3. 3
    November 18th, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Great article!

    I can’t believe you used a Back to the Future photo… Bonus points!

  4. 4
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Thumbs up for bringing it “Back to the Future”! :)

    I have to say, I am not a fan of the way the celebrities wore it in your sample images. I do, however, love how you styled Outfit #2 though! Great job!

  5. 5
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    i love the winter vest, but i would have to say that outfit number 2 does not tickle my fancy. i know my style follows the lookbook of j.crew, but i cannot fathom why one would pair a fuschia tunic with anything, for that matter, let alone a weird grey hooded vest. gross. also, i am a big fan of headband, but that one is really unflattering, especially paired with the outfit. in conclusion, i would like to add that although college students look to this site for wallet-friendly inspirations, outfit number 2 looks completely and utterly CHEAP. no offense, chels, i liked your references to the stylish celebs above. you can’t beat my girl, reese or mjf!

  6. 6
    November 18th, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I bought the second vest last year for something comfy yet stylish and I love dressing it down when i’m not in the mood to dress with a long v neck shirt the vest tights and boots. Love this post

  7. 7
    November 18th, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    A few years ago I would never picture myself wearing a vest, but I must admit that I have definitely grown fond of them! I have yet to purchase one, but I think this winter its time to strut around campus in one. Can’t wait!!

  8. 8
    November 18th, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Hey girls! It’s great to hear your feedback!! I’m sorry some of you aren’t digging all the outfits–I challenge you to style it in a better way and send in a photo to show other CF readers the way that you would style a vest!

  9. 9
    November 18th, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    I must say I find the winter vest a very hard to style item… I like the tunic in last outfit, but I wouldnt pair it with gray hooded vest either. Is it made of sweatpant-y fabric by any chance? If yes, than I guess it is just impossible to make it look stylish, no matter how hard you try.
    Same goes for down vests in my opinion. I think knitted or fur vests can look pretty good though.

  10. 10
    November 18th, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    I know this is a fashion site so strong opinions about clothing are meant to happen, but if an outfit makes you want to vomit so much, you might want to go to a doctor. And revise your idea of “ladylike”, since you’re at it, because there’s no excuse to be so rude.

  11. 11
    November 18th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I’m not typically a huge fan of vests, but I actually really like both of these outfits. :)

  12. 12
    November 18th, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    outfit number 1 is my go to outfit when im in a hurry during the winter and fall!!!

  13. 13
    November 18th, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I say DON’T wear it ;) I do think outfit no 2 is cute if you’re relaxing, going down to pick up some groceries and whatnot. Even though I don’t find them very fashionable, fashion is not about always looking glamorous!

  14. 14
    November 18th, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Chelsea, you know how much I love your column :]]]
    Vests aren’t really my thing only because at home they’re the uniform of the Rah girls. I don’t think you have Rahs here in America, but they’re usually the spoilt little princess girls who use daddy’s credit card to pay for everything and tease their hair into oblivion!!
    But outfit one is actually cute, it just isn’t my thing!!
    Like you said, this one is a definitely a challenge and props to you for giving it a go :]]]

    Charlotte xxx

  15. 15
    November 18th, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    ehhh…I’m not a huge fan of vests, but I do like the light cotton ones.

  16. 16
    November 18th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    Hi, Chelsea! I created some vest looks, but I do not know how to send them to you. I tried to be cool and create them on polyvore, but it did not work out in finding the particular items I wanted for the looks. Therefore, I put them in a word doc, but I don’t know how to contact you. If you are serious about this opportunity, I would love to share my input. I created a 9 to 5 vest look and an everyday ensemble. Best, Beth.

  17. 17
    November 19th, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I like vest. I don’t find it that hard to wear them, but then again, I love outerwear. I bought a vest last year that I’m waiting to break out again. It’s red plaid with a faux fur lining around the collar ( which is removable). I wear it with a thin black turtleneck, cause I have a naturally high body temperature, and skinny jeans. It helps to keep me from looking bulky

  18. 18
    November 19th, 2010 at 10:47 am

    I LOVE your blog! You have awesome taste! Winter vests are so warm and versatile! I love pairing them with a plain long sleeve tee and a pretty scarf.

  19. 19
    November 19th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I had NO idea these vests were still considered fashionable! I have a couple of these in my closet, I think I just might wear them one of these days with skinny jeans and a cute scarf!

  20. 20
    November 19th, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    I think the boots and the dress are too chunky together in the second outfit, so I would choose flat slim fitting boots instead. Also the vest and the dress color combination just doesn’t do it for, the purple just seems very off here. The skinny jeans outfit is cool though, great blog!

  21. 21
    November 20th, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Love vests in winter. Not so much for super chilly Canadian winters, but great for the Fall to Winter transitions up here! I like how there are a variety of styles on the market to make ‘em a little more fashion friendly, too.

  22. 22
    June 29th, 2011 at 5:25 pm

    This is great!!!! I needed an article like this. Now I can stay warm and still look cute

  23. 23
    December 5th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I just stumbled on this. I bought a white vest with a fur lined hood. Its soo cute with a think pair of leggings and slim boots. I live in Canada and I am making this outfit work here in the winter. Like someone mentioned above, keep your shirt thinner long sleeved and you dont add much bulk. I get many compliments. Love your blog! Cheers

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