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30 Wears: Black Open Weave Cardigan Vest

Somewhere along the line, this item hit 30 wears and I didn't notice! Since spring (or fall) has arrived full-on in many parts of the world, I thought this was a good time to highlight a garment that is a solid 3 season (spring/summer/fall) player in my wardrobe. As always, a thank you to Mica for inspiring me with her 30 Ways to Wear series.


I purchased this vest from Kohls in November 2015 on sale for $11.04, and I purchased the white version at the same time. It's a size XL, which is definitely not my current size, but it was a bit loose to begin with, and it has a stretchy open weave construction and few fit points, so it continues to work quite well for me. I like wearing outfits with a third piece for layering, and I thought this one would be comfortable for wearing over short sleeves in summer due to the airy weave. It turns out that it also looks great over long sleeves in the spring and fall transition seasons, too, so it's a more versatile piece than I was originally expecting. I don't wear this vest now as much as I did when it was new, but that's more due to prioritizing other items with fewer wears/higher cost per wear than anything to do with the vest itself.

Black open weave cardigan vest - Croft & Barrow - XL - $11.04 - 11/2015

Total wears: 33

Cost per wear: $0.33 (!!)

Additional wears to reach $1 CPW: n/a

Additional wears to reach $0.65 CPW: n/a


Due to its low initial cost, 33 wears brings the cost per wear down to an amazing $0.33! That's half the value of my long-term CPW target of $0.65. (I've worn the white version of this vest 16 times, which is a $0.69 CPW...it will reach the CPW target with only one more wear.)


Today I will share the ten OOTD I have photographed featuring this vest, organized by the color formula used in the outfit. Let's get started!


As Part of an Outer Column/"Suit"


The bootcut pants, crochet-yoke top, and open weave vest gave this one a bit of a 70s/boho vibe that is atypical for me. But with the "suit" color formula and the right accessories...my White Rabbit pocketwatch pendant and pointy-toed leopard flats...it was "me" enough to feel comfortable. I have such a strong memory of wearing this outfit in late August 2019 to an off-site meeting because it started raining unexpectedly and I was not excited about how the long pant legs and fabric shoes would hold up as I had to cross two large parking lots on my way back to my office (at the other site and then at mine). Miraculously the shoes survived but I did have damp pant legs! (This is why the skinny leg silhouette will never die.) (Also I have zero idea why the color in this photo looks so odd. Just a weird day all around.)

I categorized this one as an outer column/"suit" because even though the skirt is a print, it shares a black background with the vest. I remember putting this outfit together and being happy that the muted watermelon pink top was such a good match to the pinks in the skirt, but thinking that it needed another layer for oomph. Enter black open weave cardigan vest!


As Part of a Modern Twin Set


I have four outfits to share in which I wore the black vest with a black top that has a small white print, which surprised me a bit...but it appears that I like the black-and-white top + black vest as a variant on the modern twin set concept.


Here's one with red jeans and flats (and the White Rabbit pocketwatch pendant again). I definitely like the black + white + red color combination, which you will be seeing again in this post, and the neutral top + accent pants is also a favorite. This is not because I have such enviably slim legs that I want to draw attention to their slenderness either! I just think colorful pants look awesome, and looking awesome beats trying to look thinner any day of the week.

This is a somewhat rare all-neutral outfit that I jazzed up with the addition of a stand-out statement necklace.

Now we're back to the modern twin set + colorful pants formula, this time with a coral leopard print scarf for some print mixing. Note that this is an infinity scarf that I looped around my head and added a knot at the bottom; this is probably my favorite way to wear an infinity scarf in a vertical manner. I will also wear the scarf long this way without the knot if I would like it to have more volume to it, but this way is very simple and neat.

This outfit depends on texture and subtle print mixing for interest as it has a simple striped top, micro-check pants (a very small black and white that look grey at any distance), and black vest as the base outfit. But I in terms of texture I have a t-shirt knit, an open weave sweater knit, a woven paisley pattern, a somewhat nubby fabric, and smooth leather.


With an Inner Column


I am defining "inner column" broadly enough to include the skirt + print top with the same/similar color background as a variant on this color formula. I was astonishingly pleased with this height-of-summer outfit despite its simplicity. I love the colors in this t-shirt, and they worked very well with the turquoise skirt and black vest. This is an example of an outfit where the black vest really upped the look stylistically to my eye. The outfit would have looked OK without it, but I really like two things about the vest here: (1) the way it reinforced the black stripes of the top and the black flowers in the necklace, and (2) that it broke up the plain expanse of the t-shirt and added a vertical element. And because the vest has that lightweight open weave, it doesn't add warmth. This is exactly the kind of outfit I had in mind when I bought the vest.

This is one of the unexpected use cases for the vest...an outfit for late spring in which I can handle either short sleeves or bare legs, but not both. Wearing the teal blouse with the aqua pencil skirt was a bit of a stretch for me...I think the colors coordinate well but it was still somewhat out of my comfort zone...but when I added the black vest, that was enough to pull the look together. Adding that third piece can definitely tone down the impact of the top + bottom items. And when you match the third piece to a color from a print top (the blouse has black outlining around the light-colored flowers), it enhances the cohesiveness of the look. One reason I like vests so much is that from every angle, the color/print of your top's sleeves still show.


As Part of a Solid + Solid + Print Combo


The solid + solid + print color formula (in which the two solid colors are different from each other) is very popular in practice, but I don't see it mentioned all that much, at least compared to column dressing. But it's a really fun combination that can be as conservative or as wild as you want depending on the colors you pick. This outfit is such an easy one for casual Friday or another "smart casual" occasion...a print top with dark wash jeans and a black vest. (Of course it would work with a cardigan or jacket/blazer, but with the vest you can see more of the wonderful print on the sleeves!) I accessorized it with a simple yet eye-catching two-strand silver necklace and olive leopard flats because I love the low-key print mix effect of a print top + print shoes.

And finally, here's the other outfit with my beloved black + white + red color combination, accessorized with the same White Rabbit pocketwatch pendant and red buckle flats as before. (Not only is there no shame in repeating your accessory combinations, creating re-wearable accessory clusters, aka beauty bundles, is a great way to put together stylish outfits with less daily effort.) I love the vest here for all the usual reasons...including how the pretty lace sleeves still show in the outfit. (I miss that blouse, but it was a tight woven fabric with no give at all, and the cut was such that even one more inch in the bust made it feel too small and look wonky, so it was donated a couple years ago. I don't miss how surprisingly warm that polyester fabric was in a summer blouse. I did learn my lesson there.)

Wearing vests in winter is not uncommon, but it seems less common in the other seasons. Do you ever wear a vest? Do you wear any in spring, summer, or fall? Are you a committed third piece wearer? Do you have a favorite third piece category? (It's hard to decide, but I think vests are probably my favorite!)


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