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2 Winter Capsule Outfits with Quilted Vests + DIY Earrings

Today I am sharing two outfits from my fall/winter capsule wardrobe that feature a quilted vest. I recently mentioned that wearing a quilted/puffy vest indoors as one of my tips for staying warm in winter, and I thought I'd give a couple more examples of it from OOTD I wore last month.

Fall/Winter Wardrobe Capsule Color Palette
Fall/Winter Wardrobe Capsule Color Palette

I know that the quilted vest is not for everyone, but let me reiterate my case for them (as previously shared in my "feels like me" series):

They are in heavy rotation for me from about December to April, and I will wear them with just about anything. (I mean, I wouldn't wear them for a business professional or dressy occasion, but I almost never need to wear clothes for those dress codes.) They definitely introduce a "relaxed" style element to an outfit (which works for me as I enjoy style juxtapositions), but I don't think they cause an entire outfit to become automatically really depends on how you style them. (I find that styling them with confidence and with a good amount of not giving a rat's ass makes them appropriate for a lot of situations!) I appreciate them as a practical layering piece to go over everything from a long-sleeved T to a heavy pullover sweater, and I like that they are easy to wear under a winter coat. I really enjoy the texture of the vest and the visual effect of the torso and arms of the outfit having two different colors/textures. It's just a piece that when I put it on, an outfit usually moves more toward my style comfort zone.

Some people avoid them due to fear of looking like "the Michelin Man" but if you stick to quilted vests and thinner puffy vests, you will not resemble a stack of bulbous tires. Do they add bulk? Yeah, I guess they can add bulk...they are a non-trivial layer of clothing worn over other clothing...but it really depends on the vest (some are thinner than others, some are more shaped than others, etc.). It also depends on your own body and what kind of silhouette you want to create. I find that adding a vest can give me a sleeker look at times because a vest adds structure, can reign in the volume of an oversized top/sweater, and and will skim over the body rather than highlighting every bump and curve as some knits do when worn as stand-alone pieces.

In this first look, I finally created an outfit that features a significant amount of purple! My skirt is a very stretchy pencil shape that has a bit of black in a heather-like knit with the purple, so it's not quite as "wear with any neutral" as would be ideally versatile. But it's a real champ when paired with black. When I was putting this outfit together, I wanted a topper layer over the t-shirt but didn't want to add more black. I also thought a white layer would be higher contrast than I was looking for. This was a conundrum for me until I tested out how the wine quilted vest looked with it. To my surprise, the two different shades of purple worked well together. If I'd realized this when constructing my capsule, I definitely would have included the vest to pair with the skirt...but better late than never! (Seriously, you can make adjustments to a wardrobe capsule whenever you need/want to; the capsule exists to serve you, not the other way around.)

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Capsule OOTD #22: 12/6/23

I added this fun polka dot scarf with border scarf (thrifted Kate Spade) for some easy geometric print mixing with the striped T. I tied it using method 5: loop to the front with ends brought through, as demonstrated in this post.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I'm happy to see my favorite, most often worn boots added to the accessory capsule! I love the combination of the black leather, pointy shape, and the silver hardware; they have a bit of edge but not the heavy/clompy style of a lug sole boot like Doc Martens. In general I prefer my shoes/boots to have a sleek profile. These Sam Edelman ankle boots were $70 in Nov. 2014. I have worn them 92 times for a current CPW of $0.76! Luckily they are still in good shape because I do not look forward to the day I have to find a replacement.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

My all-DIY daily bracelet stack consists of four pieces in various shades of purple (2 glass, 2 stone) and three pieces that are predominantly black. I didn't take a photo of my earrings but they are simple white pearl studs, chosen to repeat the color/shape of the polka dots on the scarf.

DIY bead bracelet stack

My second outfit brings my black quilted vest into the mix. I had initially planned to wear my solid black sweater instead of this marl one, but I just wasn't feeling the black-on-black look for this outfit so I subbed in this one for a little more contrast and interest. It's funny...when I put the sweater and skirt on, I absolutely hated the combination! Something about the black/white marl knit with the smooth camel silk was discordant to me, but once I put on the vest and scarf, I was very pleased with the look. I think the vest and scarf fixed the outfit for me for two reasons: (1) the sweater and skirt now have a significant amount of physical separation so I'm not focusing so directly on how well the two look together, and (2) this scarf + skirt combo is one of my Pleasing Pairings, which really brought the outfit together as a cohesive whole for me.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40
Capsule OOTD #23: 12/18/23

The scarf has ever so slight hints of white in the print, which really helped bridge the gap between the black/white marl and the camel colors. I love winter dressing for how easy it is to add a scarf that contains all/most of the colors in an outfit. I do wear scarves in other seasons as well, of course, but while I have to be selective about what scarves I choose and how I wear them in warmer weather, cold weather is just perfect for throwing on a scarf. "Adding a print scarf that ties together the colors of an outfit" is perhaps my most relied upon styling technique.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

The black tights + black ankle boots looked great with the dark purple skirt and also with the much lighter camel skirt. Some people feel awkward about wearing tights that are a darker color than their skirt/dress, but I like black tights + boots with skirts all along the color spectrum. However, I do think that with a light-colored skirt, you are well-served to repeat the black in the upper half of the outfit to bookend it (if you have black hair, that's automatic for you).

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

I found a good post on Merrick's blog where she shows the difference between wearing a beige skirt, black tights, and black boots with a white shirt versus a black one. I agree with her that the outfit looks much better with the black top. She says that you can achieve the same "balance" by wearing another dark colored top, such as burgundy, navy, or forest green. I think that's probably true (though I would wear navy tights + boots with a navy top!), but I personally would almost certainly repeat the black somewhere in the top half of the outfit (even if it's only a small accessory) to help draw the eye back up to the face again.

This time I combined a paper bead bracelet set in black, purple, and red with two black glass bead bracelets, a light red glass bead bracelet (that has a marvelously shimmery AB finish), and a camel stone bead bracelet to repeat several of the colors from my scarf. I don't usually add a significantly variant "new" color to my paper bead bracelets when creating my stack - as I did here with the camel bracelet - but I thought it turned out quite nicely. I just realized that in the post where I shared the page to bead images for this bracelet set, I added yellow bracelets in my daily stack. Purple and yellow are complementary colors, so I guess it makes sense that this works.

Plus size outfit idea for women over 40

My faded black braided Alice band is probably my go-to choice when I'm wearing black tights and boots due to the whole bookending idea. My hair color offers an automatic bookend for the camel skirt, which is probably why I find it easy to style - it always matches me. My earrings are a new DIY pair that I made to coordinate with this scarf, and it's truly such a simple design with beads of various shapes, materials, and finishes in 6 colors of the scarf stacked on top of each other. I'm pretty sure that most if not all of these beads came from my bead soup. In this case, there isn't much in the way of unifying elements in the earrings when you look at them in isolation, but when worn right next to the scarf, the repetition of the colors in the two pieces creates harmony.

Design DIY earrings for a scarf
Design earrings for a scarf

Returning to the idea that wearing a quilted/puffy layer creates an ugly bulky look that should be avoided lest you veer into Frumpy territory (horrors!), let's take a moment to consider this house finch sitting on a tree outside my balcony in late winter. Isn't he gorgeous?! The fact that he's fluffed up his feathers (to trap the air and stay warm) does not detract from his appearance. When it's puffer season, it's puffer season.

Bird photo
House Finch - St Paul, MN - 4/3/20

Looking for other ways to style a puffer vest? Laura at I Do deClaire just shared 6 ways to wear a magenta/purple puffer, and she looks like the Michelin Man in exactly zero of them.

OK, let's do a quick check-in with the cold temps subset of my capsule. With these two outfits, I've now worn the purple skirt (outfit 22) and black quilted vest (outfit 23). There are a lot of unworn items here, but fear not! We have plenty of winter left in Minnesota...

Capsule Wardrobe

Here is our updated accessory capsule after 23 outfits (not including the extra color modules). We are up to 15 bracelet sets, 18 earring pairs, 14 necklaces, 9 scarves, and 12 pairs of shoes/boots.

Accessory capsule to date
Accessory capsule to date

Puffy/quilted vests, jackets, and coats can be controversial. What do you think of these items? Do you have a favorite way to style them, or a favorite situation in which you like to wear them? How much do you try to avoid looking "frumpy" when you dress? Would you wear black tights/boots with a light colored skirt? If so, what would you do to make the combination work for you and your personal style?

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