Depending on the business, employee uniforms and corporate apparel can be an important part of an overall branding strategy. Choosing the right garments is paramount – and while an assortment of shirts is a popular first choice, it may not always be the best approach.

Consider a layering approach with garments that can work in a variety of situations and for a variety of body types. For example, a branded fleece vest can provide the desired visibility, plus the flexibility to be worn over an employee’s own clothing – and it can be worn multiple times between washes.

“There’s so many different body types,” says Sara Webb, MAS, CEO of Georgia-based distributor InTandem Promotions. “Having the different textures and the layers, so that if you are a body type that’s not comfortable wearing just a polo shirt, you can have alternative options and still be on brand and meeting with whatever’s going out there in the industry.”

Hilary Barnes, a field sales manager in Canada with Pennsylvania-based supplier PCNA, says that fleece knits and pieces designed for layering continue to be popular for these reasons and more.

“People are looking for something that’s also comfortable and maybe reminds them of a sweater but still gives still that professional finished look to it,” she says.

Vests offer an easier fit for a variety of people than more tailored button-down dress shirts or even polos. Plus, a vest is less expensive than a jacket, so it’s a great way to get multi-season wear out of the branded apparel investment (pardon the pun), whether it’s a uniform program or an employee gift. With the right decoration placement, a vest also helps to bring attention to the wearer’s face.

“We do see a demand for vests. We have several styles in the line, and we continue to add new vests. It’s definitely become part of the corporate uniform, with men and women wearing it in the office,” says Lauren Cocco, director of merchandising and design for supplier Vantage Apparel.

She adds that vests can be a particularly useful summer option for in-office workers when it may be 90-plus degrees outside but quite cold with the air conditioning blowing at your desk.

“It’s a great layering option that you can easily put on, and it does actually keep you keep you a little bit more comfortable,” says Cocco.

Versatility is the name of the game – look for pieces that can be applied anywhere from the office to video calls to the trade show floor.

“A big trend for companies is, you can wear whatever you’d like to work, but you all have the same matching vest. It’s an easy piece to layer. It’s not going to be too hot, but it also keeps you warm in the cooler months,” says Barnes. “A vest is an easy piece from a uniform apparel perspective, as well.”

Stores and restaurants can also apply this strategy with tailored vests or aprons bearing the establishment’s logo. With the historically high employee turnover retail and dining have experienced in the past few years, a stock of aprons kept on the premises makes good financial sense, helps prevents waste – and it can also elevate the appearance and customer perception of the staff.

“I’ve definitely noticed that, even from a personal standpoint, when you’re at restaurants,” says Barnes. “People can wear whatever they like as long as they’re all in black or all in a certain color, and then the apron ties the uniform together for sure.”

Here are a few options for brandable vests and aprons:

Fossa full-zip fleece vest blue

The 100% polyester sweater knit men’s Terrace Sweater Fleece Vest offers a cozy but clean-cut fit with heat seal side zippered pockets and woven fabric accents on the collar and pocket openings. Comes in black or navy (shown) and sizes S-5X; women’s companion available.

 Fossa Apparel / PPAI 330885, S1 /

woman wearing gray full-zip fleece vest by Storm Creek

The women’s Overachiever Vest, made of 100% polyester sweater fleece, contains recycled fibers equivalent to 16 plastic bottles. This fabric combines the softness and performance of fleece and the look of heathered wool for comfort plus a polished appearance. Comes in five colors (platinum shown) and sizes XS-3X; men’s companion available.

Storm Creek / PPAI 438091, S6 /

man wearing heather blue performance full-zip vest by Stormtech

The men’s Avalanche Full Zip Fleece Vest, made of 75% recycled polyester, features zippered pockets to protect belongings, a chin guard on the full front zipper with and a brushed interior for added softness. Comes in four colors (navy shown) and sizes S-3X; women’s companion available.

Stormtech USA / PPAI 260245, S4 /

woman wearing black quilted full-zip vest with logo by Vantage

The women’s quilted Mesa Vest is a versatile piece that can add polish to any look. Made of poly/cotton diamond texture jersey, the full zip vest features a foldover chin guard and contrast center front and pocket zippers. Comes in black (shown), gray and navy, sizes XS-3X; men’s companion available.

Vantage Apparel / PPAI 113235, S10 /

 green apron with large logo and front pocket

Bring your client’s brand to the front with this 100% Cotton Canvas Apron with neck strap, tie waist and a 5 x 6-inch front pocket for convenient storage. Single-color, single-position screen print included at chest (11 x 7 inches) or pocket (4 x 5 inches). Available in five colors (green shown); one size (30 x 20 inches).

Evans Manufacturing / PPAI 110747, S11 /

man wearing green waiter vest with buttons

This poly/cotton blend Teflon Treated Twill Bistro Vest, available in both men’s and women’s sizing, features back darts for a tailored fit, full taffeta lining, two front welt pockets and matching buttons. Its stain release and wrinkle-resistant features make it a great choice for restaurants and catering staff. Men’s available in seven colors (Kelly green shown) and sizes S-6X; women’s in six colors and sizes S-4X.

Blue Generation / PPAI 174655, S11 /

woman wearing blue cobbler apron retail

This poly/cotton Cobbler Apron, great for retail, food service, art classes and more, comes with side ties and a divided front pocket. The chest imprint area is 9 x 9 inches, and the pockets (4 x 4 inches) can also be decorated. The one-size-fits-most garment (20 x 28.25 inches) is available in nine colors (royal blue shown).

Wolfmark / PPAI 114140, S3 /

canvas apron with logo and three front pockets

This poly/cotton Kitch Style Washed Canvas Apron offers durable and functional style with its double soft leather tool/pen holder and three pockets. The crossover canvas straps have a soft top layer of cowhide and hardware buckles for added flair. Embroidery included. Available in 10 colors (green shown); one size (27 x 29 inches).

Aprons, Etc. / PPAI 110868, S5 /