Best Sweater Vests to Look Modern & How to Style Them

Preppy is trending this fall, which means the return of the sweater vest. Cozy knit vests with a touch of sophistication are back in the game, and they’re not just for the bookish or nerdy. Today, I’m sharing some of my favorites, showing you what makes them new, and how to style them to look modern and chic.

black white sweater vest leather skirt

Why You Need a Sweater Vest

Layering is a great way to add polish and give your outfit a more stylish, 3D look. Yes, you can slip on a jacket or a cardigan, but another great way to layer is to wear a sweater vest.

A sweater vest is also a handy piece to have in your wardrobe because it’s so versatile. You can dress it up or down, and wear it with pants, a skirt or even a dress. Plus, a sweater vest keeps you cozy without feeling too hot like a long-sleeved sweater layered over the top would (especially at this stage of life!)

shop the look

How Sweater Vests Have Changed

If you’re like me, it’s probably been a long time since you wore one of these babies. Remember the colorful, funky-looking sweater vests that were cool in the 70s or the classic, preppy styles (like those worn by Princess Di) that ruled in the 90s?

Now, there’s a whole new crop of fabulous sweater vests, plus creative new ways to wear them so you don’t look like you are simply revisiting the past.

black white sweater vest

vest | shirt | skirt |booties (similar) |bag | earrings

How to Wear a Sweater Vest in 2023

For example, This chic black and white sweater vest from Talbots has a traditional plaid pattern but a laid-back feel because it’s made from a super soft yarn that is relaxed, cozy, and perfect for our casual lifestyle.

The pairing is also fresh.  I’ve layered the sweater vest over a long white shirt, keeping the white shirttails tucked out.  Then I’ve added a short, faux leather skirt to make it look slightly edgy. Cute ankle booties and opaque stockings also give it a modern, urban, and youthful vibe.

The Newest Types of Sweater Vests

Many traditional type sweater vests have been reimagined this season in creative ways, but there are also some new styles. Here are some of the biggest changes I’ve noticed.


Brightly Colored Sweater Vests

There’s always room for a neutral sweater vest, but at the moment, sweater vests in bright pops of color are pretty exciting.  Vibrant pinks, blues, and neons add energy and make them more exciting to experiment with. Some of the best I’ve seen are at Boden.

Oversize Silhouettes

The classic sweater vest that fits just so is a thing of the past. One major trend is to go big or go home. Just like the rise of grandpa cardigans, we’re seeing many grandpa-type vests. They’re classic, oversized, sometimes chunky and always long, almost like a tunic vest. And boy, do they look comfy!

Cropped Shrunken Sweater Vests

At the opposite end of the spectrum are cropped and shrunken sweater vests. They are usually worn over very long button-up shirts and are more fashion-forward. I’m still getting used to the look. I like cropped, but I’m not sure about shrunken. To me, a shrunken sweater vest looks like it’s been in the dryer too long. (Lol)

button up| bold shoulder |shrunken | classic | grandpa | bright colors


New Necklines

V-neck and crew necklines are classic and charming. Lately I’ve noticed some deep-cut V-neck sweater vests that look seriously chic. There are also plenty of mock-neck sweater vests, which I love because they look so very modern to me. I think a mock neck is a very flattering style for women our age since it’s lower, and easier to wear than a high turtleneck, but not as plain and serious as a crew neck. Fold-down zip-neck sweater vests are are new and I’m loving this sporty look too!

Boxy cuts and Bold Shoulders

Many new sweater vests have bold shoulders and are very boxy looking, which you think would make you look heavy and frumpy, but I find the opposite. Their big, broad Dynasty-style shoulders help add structure to our softer, rounder 40-plus bodies and create the illusion of a smaller waist. Plus, that inverted triangle shape looks a little futuristic.

Classic Patterns Reimagined

Plaid sweater vests like mine, and other classic patterns like argyle, stripes, or checks are always in style and give you more of a classic look. But that doesn’t mean they look dated. Look at this modern check pattern vest in hot pink or this. It’s a nod to traditional, but more artsy.


animal print vest

New Patterns

Designers have also been playing with new patterns like animal print and color block, which look great.

brown chunky knit sweater


Chunky Knits Sweater Vests

Chunky Cable Knits and Ribbed sweater vests add an earthy,  natural vibe and are more popular than ever. If you prefer a fine knit, cashmere is chic!

Button up Sweater Vests

Button-up styles are not new, but when they’re cropped and colorful, and you don’t wear a blouse or button-up underneath, they are!


Fresh Ways to Style a Sweater Vest

Sweater Vest with Leather: The mix of classic black and white plaid paired with black faux leather that I showed you earlier is just one cool new way to style a sweater vest. The mix of two opposite vibes- super classic and urban edgy – creates a modern look. You could also style a similar look with black faux leather leggings.

Here are a few other interesting ideas…..

Naturals + Vibrant Color: Boden has done a great job online showing how to mix a bright vest with neutrals or a neutral sweater vest with colorful clothes.


Sweater vest + T-shirt: It’s a modern casual way to wear a sweater vest with a simple tee.

Blouse/Button up: A pretty blouse or crisp shirt with a sweater vest is always lovely if you choose a modern print blouse and wear it with a trendy sweater vest.


black and white sweater vest



Stand Alone is Trending: The biggest trend is wearing a sweater vest with nothing underneath. It’s a clean, minimalist look, but I don’t know how practical it will be once winter arrives. Burr!

With a dress: A solid-colored sweater vest over a print dress feels new and will give you one dress two different looks, which is a nice bonus.


Q. Can you tuck in a Sweater Vest?

Yes, you can, but I think it looks best when the vest is oversized and folds slightly over your waistline like a slouchy sweater would. When a sweater vest is too fitted and tightly tucked in, it looks dated. Try a modern tuck, like a soft front half tuck, instead.

Style Wrap-Up

So there you go, ladies! And you thought there was nothing new out there. I hope you’ll consider adding a vest because it’s a great way to chic your chic and look Age-amazing! If you have a vest you want to share, join my private Facebook group, the Fabulous After 40 dressing room, and post it there! Sign up here.

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4 thoughts on “Best Sweater Vests to Look Modern & How to Style Them

  1. You certainly did your homework, Deborah! The options are fantastic and so varied. Thank you for this fabulous post!

  2. Of course, I love the expensive one. That would be the Veronica Beard Bold shoulder one. So beautiful!!! Thanks for posting these with tips!

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