As with many slightly dandy-ish fashion pieces—bow-ties, cufflinks, seersucker—I go back and forth on vests.

The right one, with the right fit, can be a showstopper. The wrong one, well, hello grandpa. Or worse, with the dreaded sweater vest, paging Rick Santorum, and could you please point me to the driving range?

The trick is to pick the right cut, the right pattern, and—apologies to the ab-challenged—have the right frame. Vests can be unforgiving, especially when they’re too tight.

Those caveats aside, this smart, urban-stylish waistcoat by John Varvatos, constructed of 55 percent linen and 45 percent cotton, has an all-over barstripe pattern, with vintage nickel zippers and five cordozo buttons running down the center for a look that’s edgy, not stodgy.

$198 at