sweater vest

Guess Who’s Back, Back Again? The Sweater Vest Is

When we think of sweater vest fashion, our mind automatically thinks of our grandpas or Chandler Bing from “Friends.” Basically, old-fashioned fashion. 

Before, many people were repulsed with the idea of rocking a sweater vest in public. Unless you wanted to live out the ‘90s or had a weird fashion sense, most people stayed away from sweater vests, thinking that it’s a fashion abomination that will pass with time.

The joke’s on them since the sweater vest is seeing a comeback, and it’s here to stay. Whether it’s due to the new popularity of ‘90s fashion trends or this academic fashion is receiving a new type of styling, many people are starting to jump aboard the sweater vest fashion train — both women and men. 

Are Sweater Vests Timeless? Seems Like It

2020 was an unexpected year, to say the least. But even in the context of the most chaotic year, fashion enthusiasts were probably surprised to find the uniform of their dads and geography teachers making a comeback to the catwalk. 

You read that right — the 2020 fashion scene wanted the world to wear sweater vests. The old-fashioned vests made their big return to the stages of Jil Sander, Fendi and Cecilie Banhsen. Come 2021, the sweater vest fashion trend made another statement via singer Harry Styles. 

The former One Direction member dropped a surprise music video on January 1. In the upbeat track “Treat People With Kindness,” Styles rocked a Gucci diamond-print vest (of course it had to be Gucci, of course). With him was Phoebe Waller-Bridge who was also in the same Gucci vest. 

Watching Styles and Waller-Bridge dancing around in their frilly blouses and matching vests was a delight to watch. Apart from the mood booster the video gives, it also suggested that sweater vests are here to stay.

But Why Are People So Hesitant to Wear Sweater Vests?

Recently, agenda-setting style icons are trying to revive the women’s and the men’s sweater vest agenda. Apart from his “Treat People With Kindness” outfit, Harry Styles also rocked a Princess Diana-inspired, sheep print Lanvin sweater vest. Even Tyler, The Creator was photographed added a flamboyant touch to men’s sweater vest. Despite the growing number of style icons rocking the vested look, the popularity of sweater vest is growing at such a slow pace. 

Why is that?

One of the top reasons is the different connotations sweater vests hold for people. Namely: the grumpy librarian, the middle-school geography teacher nobody liked, the grandpa you forget to visit or the bird watchers you meet at the park. People, especially style and fashion enthusiasts, aren’t big fans of these non-style icons. 

Another reason is sweater vests give some people unpleasant Christmas memories. Sweater vests have always been novelty Christmas gifts most kids didn’t want to receive. Wearing a sweater vest may remind you of hot chocolate over the Christmas fire but it could also remind you of that time you didn’t get your favorite toy. 

But many people are missing out on the beauty of the sweater vest aesthetic due to these stereotypes. On the contrary, sweaters vests are versatile and unflashy — contrasting elements that make it the perfect clothing companion for the other pieces in your wardrobe. In the dead of winter, you can pair your knit sweater vest with a wool coat. 

It’s Time to Give Sweater Vests Yet Another Chance

In theory, sweater vests seem unflattering, not even remotely sexy and difficult to style. But you need to open your eyes and see the wave of men and women styling their sweater vests, making them look chic and cool. 

Fashion’s new muse Daisy Edgar-Jones wore her sweater vest over a white t-shirt, some jeans and ankle boots. She’s not alone in revolutionizing the world of fashion with sweater vests. Street style enthusiasts are divided into two groups right now: plain versus printed. But no matter what team they’re on, street-stylers are united in topping blouses or shirts with thin-strapped sweater vests, tucked into leather pants or skirts.

If you still think the sweater vest isn’t too cool for school, the younger generation disagrees with you. Gen Z fashionistas — aka the Tiktok kids — are filling social media with videos of them styling sweater vests. Even supermodel Bella Hadid joined in on the fan, styling her Marc Jacobs vest with oversized patterned outerwear. Of course, her model friend Kendall Jenner joins the sweater vest bandwagon with her seventies-inspired striped vest from Mango.

OK, What Type of Sweater Vests are In Style?

If you want a cool sweater vest, your selection is pretty broad. Everything from the oversized sweater vests to preppy school-style vests and button knitted sweater vests, all vests are making their presence known today. 

It all depends on what you prefer. You can pull off a Chandler Bing with the sweater vest topping a polo shirt. Or you can try the Spice Girl-like look of sleeveless sweater vests/crop tops. 

How to Style Your Sweater Vest

There are different ways to make your sweater vest look cool. Here are some fashion ideas that cover different styles and seasons. 

Minimalist

Despite looking thick and chunky, sweater vests can easily complement any minimalist outfit. Pair your knitted monochromatic sweater vest with trousers to achieve a sophisticated minimalist style.

minimalist sweater vest

‘70s Style

Add more fun to your curtain bangs and psychedelic prints with a colorful button-up knitted sweater or sweater vest. 

70's sweater vest

Preppy

The ‘90s Hamptons and preppy style are back in session. You can see it on all social media platforms and online magazines. The traditional preppy outfit of tennis skirts and crew neck shirts will work well with a traditional sweater vest. 

But what if you’re not following a trend? What if you just want to know how to pair your sweater vest with the other articles of clothing in your closet? Can you wear them with khakis? 

preppy sweater vest
Photo from Pexels

Here are five ways you can style your vest top.

  1. Over a dress. Add some “oomph!” to your favorite flowy dress by layering it with a sweater vest. Complete the look with a cute necklace. As much as possible, keep this look monochromatic. If you want to look like a baby doll, wear a pink dress with a pink sweater vest and a pink bag. 
  2. Pair it with shorts. Yes, sweater vests can also work with your shorts. The key is proper layering. If you want to give your look some urban vibes, wear a pair of boots. Complete this juxtaposition of a look with a handbag of your choice. 
  3. On top of an oversized shirt. Look for the biggest shirt in your closet. It should be big and long enough to be a dress. Top it off with a sweater vest. Complete the look with some chunky accessories, a cute purse and sneakers. Switching up the shades is the key to a more versatile look. For example, wear a white sweater vest with a light blue shirt. You can also wear a yellow sweater vest with a pastel pink shirt.
  4. As a top. What if you want to keep it simple? Wear your sweater vest as a top to your favorite bottoms. If you want to add texture or color to a look, go for a knitted or patterned sweater vest.

The Art of Wearing a Sweater Vest (Tips To Remember)

Be Mindful of the Colors

Your choice of colors depends on the occasion. For example, neutral and solid colors work well during your workdays. The weekends are the best time to go all out with the colors. Go crazy with a white crewneck tee and a patterned vest. If you want to look slimmer, keep your light shirt and your vest dark. 

Wear the Right Fit

A too-small sweater vest can make you look like a stuffed sausage. On the other hand, if the vest is too big, you’ll look lumpy. With the perfect fit, you have more room to move around without looking like a frumpy librarian. 

 

The sweater vest has had a bad rap for making people look “unfashionable.” But lately, people are appreciating the old-timey charm of sweater vests. If you wear it right, you can walk a runway confidently while exuding Chandler Bing, but with more style.

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Maggie Wheeler
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