Skip to Content

How To Wear A Flannel With A Vest (6 Tips)

It may seem difficult to match some garments together. For example, two garments primarily used as outer layers may be a struggle to pair. So, the question is, can you really wear a flannel with a vest?

Yes, it’s definitely possible. When wearing a flannel with a vest, it’s important to consider the style of the vest. Casual vests, like puffer vests and other quilted vest styles, work particularly well. The combination looks great rounded off with a pair of jeans. 

Although that’s the gist, there’s much more to it.

So, let’s dig deeper.

1. Consider The Style Of The Vest 

There are many vest styles on the market. In fact, there are so many that it can be difficult to know which is the best one to pick to wear with a flannel.

Choosing the right vest is important because each vest has its own formality level and is suitable with different garments.

Here are some great vest styles you can wear with a flannel shirt: 

  • Puffer Vest
  • Denim Vest
  • Fleece Vest
  • Gilet Vest

Here are some vest styles you should definitely avoid when wearing a flannel shirt: 

  • Sweater Vest
  • Formal Vest (Waistcoat)

Ultimately, it’s important to ensure that your vest style is casual enough to wear with a flannel. 

We’re discussing four types of vests here. 

We’ll be going through exactly why two of them are appropriate to wear with a flannel, while two of them are inappropriate. 

Puffer Vest

Puffer vests look great with flannels. However, it’s important to make sure your puffer vest isn’t too bulky or ‘puffy.’

Image From Deposit Photos

Puffer vests have a quilted lining and are often insulated with feathers. 

Because the primary purpose of a puffer vest is keeping you warm, sometimes brands favor function over appearance.

While this isn’t an inherently bad thing, it can also result in some puffer vests looking over the top.

So, when wearing one with a flannel, it’s best to stick to lighter, slimmer vests – those that lean more toward padded than puffer.

Puffer vests are usually zipped garments, as opposed to buttoned or pull-over.

Denim Vest

Denim vests work well with flannels. Both items are incredibly casual, often syncing seamlessly when layered over each other.

The rugged texture of denim pairs well with the napped and fuzzy texture of flannel. 

It’s important to appreciate just how casual this combination is, however. It should never be worn in settings where there’s a risk of underdressing. 

However, in truly casual settings where a more laid-back and action-ready aesthetic would be appealing, it can work extremely well. 

Round the outfit off with a pair of cargo pants or even denim jeans.

Here’s an example on Amazon: 

Formal Vest/Waistcoat

Formal vests and waistcoats are far too formal to wear with a flannel. 

Formal vests are, as the name suggests, the most formal style of vests. They’re sometimes referred to as waistcoats and look very different from the other vest styles.

Usually, formal vests feature a V-shaped neckline and use buttons rather than a zip.

Although they can sometimes be textured or patterned, they generally aren’t. 

Instead, formal vests are mostly found in dark, neutral colors – particularly navy, charcoal, and black.

These are far too formal to wear with a flannel, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Sweater Vest

Sweater vests generally look too formal to wear with flannels. 

A sweater vest is typically a knitted garment. It’s pretty much a sweater without sleeves, hence the name “sweater” vest.

Sweater vests often have decorative texturing, notably a cable-knit design. 

They were particularly popular in the ‘70s in the UK but have recently been making a comeback.

Typically, sweater vests are considered smart-casual. 

This means that, as a rule of thumb, they are too formal to wear with a flannel and look out of place.

Furthermore, flannels usually have a distinctive checkered pattern. 

This – combined with the often cable-knit sweater vest design – can look excessive and, therefore, flamboyant.

2. Checkered Flannels Work Best

Checkered flannels are considerably more popular than plain flannels. In fact, sometimes, you might struggle to find a plain flannel.

While plain flannels can look good with a vest, checkered ones are the best option.

This is because they act as the centerpiece of the outfit – a great underlayer to your vest.

That being said, if you do go with a checkered flannel, make sure your vest isn’t patterned or textured (with the exception of puffer vests).

Instead, opt for a plain, block-colored vest.

This will ensure your outfit remains cool and eye-catching without being excessive or overly flamboyant.

Red and black-checkered flannels are the most common. And they look fantastic with a vest.

Bold colors work best, as they really make the outfit stand out, but not so much it looks over the top – particularly if you go with an understated vest.

Here’s an example of a fleece vest on Amazon. The image shows one worn over a green and white flannel: 

3. Jeans Look Great 

Denim is a staple of casual wear, which is exactly what this outfit is. Therefore, jeans look brilliant with a flannel and a vest. 

Despite black jeans being the most “formal” jeans style, it’s still denim. This means that they are still casual at their core.

Because of this, black jeans look amazing with a flannel and vest, particularly if you choose a dark vest or have black on your flannel.

Alternatively, blue jeans work just as well. Whether you go for light blue or dark blue jeans is down to personal preference.

Distressing on your jeans can look great too, but make sure it doesn’t go too far – discreet distressing works best.

Generally, it’s best to avoid white, light grey, or similar light colors with this outfit, as it’s overall a pretty dark ensemble.

As for jeans fit, that’s also down to personal preference.

Though, skinny jeans with a puffer jacket can look disproportionate, so keep that in mind when making your decision.

4. Keep It Casual

Knowing whether or not your outfit is appropriate for any given situation is an essential part of looking good.

Turning up to an event under or over-dressed is not only embarrassing but can present the wrong intentions.

This can result in people getting the wrong impression of you. 

Therefore, getting it right is absolutely crucial.

It’s pretty easy to say that flannel shirts are pretty casual garments; that’s almost a given.

However, when it comes to vests, things get a little more confusing due to the many different vest styles.

Vests cover formality levels across the board, and knowing where yours sits on this proverbial board is important.

As mentioned, puffer vests and bomber vests are the best options to wear with a flannel. These are both very casual vest styles.

So, when combining a flannel with a casual vest, the result is always going to be a casual outfit. And that’s exactly what this is.

Avoid any occasions of even slight formality when wearing a flannel with a vest.

This includes casual weddings. The term “casual wedding” is often misleading and actually means smart-casual.

If you’re in doubt about whether or not it’s appropriate, then it probably isn’t, so stick to something a little safer.

5. Darker Vests Are Ideal

When wearing a flannel with a vest, it may be tempting to go with a boldly-colored, overly textured vest. In reality, this should be avoided at all costs. 

Dark, discreet vests work best. This is because your flannel will usually be checkered and will, therefore, act as the centerpiece of your outfit.

fleece vest over flannel
Image From Deposit Photos

Two layered patterned garments generally don’t look great together unless you’re making a fashion statement.

Similarly, your flannel will likely be in a bold colorway. 

While wearing two bold colors together is more acceptable than two different patterns, with this outfit, a bold-colored vest would detract from your flannel.

Colors like navy, charcoal, dark gray, and black work are optimal for a more sophisticated, understated look.

6. Fully Button Your Flannel

The last tip is to fully button your flannel. This is quite unusual, as flannels are typically overlayer garments.

However, since you’ll be wearing your vest as the overlayer, it makes more sense to button your flannel fully.

This is especially true if you’re going to be wearing your vest zipped-up, as vests generally sit quite close to your body.

If you were to wear an unbuttoned flannel with a zipped-up vest, it would look awkward and feel uncomfortable. 

Conversely, wearing your vest unzipped gives a bit more leeway in terms of an unbuttoned flannel, but it’s still best to avoid it as a general rule.