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For example, when I add a vector layer, next time that I want to add another layer it opens up where I chose my last layer from. How would one implement this in Python and/or PyQgis? I'm writing a plugin, and I want user to select layers in the same way as above.

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You could do it using a combination of QSettings and a custom file-dialog.
To the QFileDialog.getOpenFileNames() dialog a base directory can be passed. So you just need to configure a filter (Only shapefiles) and a base-directory. To get the last-used ones you can just query (lastUsedDir()) them from a QSettingsFile using the functions below.
After file(s) have been selected, just query the basename of those files ( os.path.basename) and call setLastUsedDir() to set this value as attribute.

def lastUsedDir():
  settings = QSettings( "Your PluginName", "short-name" )
  return settings.value( "lastUsedDir", str( "" ) )

def setLastUsedDir( lastDir ):
  path = QFileInfo( lastDir ).absolutePath()
  settings = QSettings( "Your PluginName", "short-name" )
  settings.setValue( "lastUsedDir", str( path ) )

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