Somehow, someway, the sweater vest has become a fashion must-have for fall. Yes, you read that last sentence correctly. The sweater vest has moved from something hidden in the background or worn by sad life insurance agents onto fashion runways back in 2018. It’s morphed from something worn by TV and movie chumps, the occasional golfer and boomers who want to relive their prep school youth into high-end knitted works of art to toss on for the weekend.
With Gen Z, celebrities and fashion designers embracing the sweater trend, you’re going to see more and more guys rocking these knits in the months ahead. Below, we explain how this controversial piece of apparel made its comeback, and share some of the best sweater vests men can wear in 2022.
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How the Sweater Vest Made a Surprising Comeback in Men’s Fashion
We’ll be honest: we still have a love-hate relationship with the sweater vest. We reluctantly named this one of the top spring fashion trends for men earlier this year, and it’s impossible to ignore how many stylish young celebs are incorporating the sweater vest into their attire. Tyler, The Creator is one of the most notable clotheshorses to rock a sweater vest on the red carpet.
We probably shouldn’t be surprised by the sweater vest’s comeback. After all, preppy apparel, dad clothing and 90s fashion are all newly popular.
Not only has the sweater vest made more appearances on the runway (2019 and fall 2021 shows), but now you’ve also got Harry Styles wearing those outsized knitted doilies (mostly Gucci) as well as Half of BTS, Tyler, The Creator, and others who you thought were too hip to wear them. Arguably, the last time a sweater vest was an object of desire was in the 90s when Brad Pitt wore one out on a date with Gwyneth Paltrow.
Before that famous Brand Pitt photo, sweater vests, specifically Fair Isle knits, were seen either in Monty Python skits, worn by certain members of the UK’s royal family or period dramas.
Yet, against all odds, the sweater vest is back. Rowing Blazers, one of our favorite clothing brands at SPY, has definitely helped drive this trend with its colorful Cotton Knit Croquet Sweater Vest, which is both instantly recognizable and frequently out of stock. It’s been worn by tons of celebrities, and it’s just one of the popular vest styles we’ve seen in recent years.
When you’re doing some online window shopping for fall clothes, you’ll see these sleeveless items in almost every price range. Perhaps it’s due to the rise of the cottagecore trend, bored fashion people trying to come up with something creative or all of us being stuck at home for over a year, or maybe a bit of all those factors mashed into one thing. Whatever it is, to some people, the sweater vest is one of fall’s most influential IT items … and they’re even saying it’s going to be a “must-have” for next spring too! This surge in popularity is highly ironic considering that it’s an item they wouldn’t be caught dead in a few years ago to many.
To a particular segment of the male population — college professors, mental health professionals, vintage clothing enthusiasts, old people — the sweater vest has always been and always will be a fashion essential.
Hermes, Prada, Saint Laurent, Wales Bonner, Etro; The list of designers creating sweater vests goes on, and it’s vast. There are sweater vests with oversized shoulders, sweater vests with crests, and sweater vests laced up or open at the sides — positively medieval. One last weird thing about the sweater vest; the higher the price ticket, the more flouncy the name tends to become. Sweater vest becomes sleeveless pullover becomes gilet; you get the point.
1. ZARA Knit Vest
Fast fashion brand Zara showcases its sweater vests as options to wear instead of a tank top. The russett sweater vest has a V-neck, ribbed trim and two additional color options.
Zara Knit Vest
2. Charles Jeffrey Loverboy x Browns Mufty Mohair Sweater Vest
BEST DESIGNER SPLURGE
Like most of Charles Jeffrey Loverboy’s fall goods, this sweater vest has a pop of color that is undeniably exquisite. The wool-mohair and gradient design makes this a winner and will make you one, too.
Charles Jeffrey Loverboy x Browns Mufty Mohair Sweater Vest
3. Marni Geometric Knitted Vest
Marni takes bold designs with unique details to celebrate individuality. This V-neck two-tone geometric pattern was crafted from knit virgin wool and completed with a yellow embroidered logo on the neckline.
Marni Purple Wool Vest
4. J CREW Fair Isle Sweater Vest
J Crew featured Fair Isle sweater vests in their collection, and wouldn’t you know it, we suddenly see Fair Isle everywhere. Inspired by classic shetland sweaters, this 100 percent wool vest is brushed for softness and the textured, “hairy” appearance it’s known for. Whether you pair it with chinos, denim or even a suit, it’s inevitable you’ll make the right choice.
J Crew Fair Isle Sweater Vest In Brushed Wool
5. Urban Outfitters Lucas Variegated Check Sweater Vest
THE ONE WHO CAN’T GET AWAY
This classic multicolor v-neck style vest with a check pattern, finished with ribbed knit trims.
Urban Outfitters Lucas Variegated Check Sweater Vest
6. Wales Bonner Swing Stripe Rib Sweater Vest
BEST TANK STAND-IN
The Black-owned brand’s homage to jazz continues with the Swing sweater-vest, rib knit from cotton and riffed with vibrant stripes.
Wales Bonner Swing Stripe Rib Cotton Sweater Vest
7. Topman Knit Tank with Dog Tooth in Mono
Houndstooth is a pattern that will always make its way back around in trend. While this Topman V-neck knit sweater vest may be considered a “tank”, it still retains that unique element that you’re in the market for.
Topman Knit Tank with Dog Tooth in Mono
8. Andersson Bell Multicolor Monaco22 Vest
BEST IN THE LAND
Andersson Bell leans on timeless silhouettes and clean lines to embrace subtle eclecticism. The Seoul-based ready-to-wear label goes beyond the means of gender, race and cultural background to offer a lineup of garments that elicit “difference, individuality, and fluidity”. This vibrant sweater vest with embroidered detailing and stripe pattern throughout is the standout you need in your closet.
Andersson Bell Multicolor Monaco22 Vest
9. ASOS Knit Camo Color Tank in Multi
ASOS will draw you in with irresistible designs at a reasonable price tag. This camo design on this oversized V-neck sweater vest one that you cannot look away from.
ASOS Knit Camo Color Tank in Multi
10. Acne Studios Logo-Appliquéd Striped Crochet-Knit Wool Sweater Vest
Acne Studios clothes offer a multidisciplinary take on today’s fashion scene, tapping into photography, architecture, contemporary culture and art. With dynamic rainbow stripes, this cream sweater vest is crochet-knitted from substantial wool and appliquéd with a signature face emoji. Wear this solo or layer over a basic tee.
Acne Studios Logo-Appliquéd Striped Crochet-Knit Wool Sweater Vest
11. AMI PARIS Logo-Jacquard Wool Sweater Vest
AMI PARIS’ heart emblem is personal to founder Alexandre Mattiussi — it was his signature found in hand-written notes to loved ones for years. This cream Jacquard-knitted vest with the embroidered logo on the chest was constructed from warm wool and is ideal for when’s time to start layering.
AMI PARIS Logo-Jacquard Wool Sweater Vest
12. Craig Green Laced Wool Sleeveless Sweater
BEST FRESH TAKE
Designer Craig Green takes the basic sweater vest and adds a dash of S&M to it, buy exposing what’s underneath with lace-up sides. The super-long yarn is supposed to be left loose and dangle, but if you buy it, you can do whatever you want. It’s modern minimalism that’s online.
Craig Green Laced Wool Sleeveless Sweater
13. Adidas x Wales Bonner Monogram Knitted Vest
Adidas Originals and Wales Bonner have teamed up to give you something sporty and fun. This knitted vest has a round neck and a monogram print, integrated by striped detailing and logo prints that couldn’t be more on-trend.
Adidas x Wales Bonner Monogram Knitted Vest
Styling Tips for Sweater Vests
If you’re thinking of trying out the sweater vest this fall, there are a couple of easy, stylish ways you can try them out. Take a cue from BTS, and wear one over a slightly outsized white T-shirt and jeans or paired with either complementary and contrasting colored shirts. To make the look less fussy, roll up the sleeves and wear the shirt untucked. Some fashion editorials and ads feature sweater vests worn on their own, layered under blazers, or if the weather allows, try it instead of a tank top.
So, in case you’re feeling online, or want to look like a royal, we rounded up our picks for the 13 best sweater vests for you to try on this season.
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