The Sweater Vest Is Cool Again
When I was younger, the way I dressed was far different than what you see today. I proudly possessed long 1970s-style hair, sang in a garage band, and wore mostly thrifted t-shirts and ripped jeans. I was the person who often referred to classmates who dressed up in polos and collared shirts as “preppies”. I fondly remember a guy by the name of John who always seemed to be wearing one garment I absolutely despised; the sweater vest.
Looking back now, I realized how wrong I was to judge him simply based on my own primitive style. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned how to experiment more with the way I dress, often times revisiting the clothes that I once casted off as unfashionable or too dated. The sweater vest was certainly that garment for me. However in recent years, I’ve rediscovered its worth.
The sweater vest has a bad reputation. It’s not only the garment that we closely associate with our grandfathers, but TV character Chandler Bing, from the show Friends, seem to always be wearing an odd assortment of sweater vests. Luckily today, popular brands like Ralph Lauren, J.Press and Drake’s of London have reinvigorated the once dated garment into a stylish, winter layering essential that it has always been.
When worn correctly, a sweater vest can add the right amount of smartness to your look. Landing somewhere between the cardigan and the waistcoat, a sweater vest offers all the warmth of a traditional sweater, without the obvious: sleeves.
When wearing a sweater vest, start with a neutral color. A solid sweater in navy, charcoal, brown or burgundy is versatile and easily styled. Here, I’m wearing a relatively light merino wool sweater vest. Though thinner, the sweater vest comfortably sits beneath a suit or sport coat and won’t prohibit me from buttoning my jacket.
Looking for a casual option? A cozy cable-knit or fair-isle sweater vest adds both interest and an extra layer of warmth for when you’re not wearing one under a jacket. Patterned sweater vests can be tricky but stay far away from the tacky 1990s argyle, cringe-worthy luxury examples we see in fashion magazines and TV.
No matter your personal take, the sweater vest is a versatile option for men looking to expand beyond their comfort zone. Reputations aside, the sweater vest remains as relevant today as it once was and will continue to provide as both an adaptable and practical garment.
Thanks for reading.
Steven D. Elliott
He Spoke Style