Sweater vests have always been around, but when the preppy style started making headlines again a few years ago, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was another micro-trend that would dissipate as soon as it began.
Those who remember Harry Styles stepping out in a sheep-covered, fluffy sweater vest back in 2019 probably remember cracking a smile at the ironic and quirky knitwear choice as it became highly memed online. Little did we know that the following years would see the likes of A$AP Rocky, Tyler, The Creator, Jaden Smith, Kendall Jenner, and many more add the style to their regular rotation.
Over the past few years, the sweater vest has proven that it's here to stay.
What was once a slightly ironic play on the grandad aesthetic has become a pretty standard fixture not only on the backs of celebs but also on the runway. Some of the most talked-about shows in recent seasons have been bringing new takes on the sweater vest: Kenzo, Jil Sander, and JW Anderson to name just a few.
A testament to how popular they have become, a number of these designers and celebrities have even found a way to style them in warm weather, going commando and treating the sweater vest like a winterized version of a tank top.
Whether it be a thick-knitted collegiate style, like the Kenzo sweater vest shown below, or a more slim-fitting graphic design like those shown by Dior for SS23, it seems that nobody is worried about itchy cotton on their bare skin this summer.
However, while we're still in the depths of winter, we're going to stick to wearing sweater vests the way that was intended.
The most common way you will have seen the design styled in the past, whether by a school teacher or Brad Pitt in Inglourious Basterds, is over a shirt — a classic combination that layering season has allowed us to once again experiment with. And if you want to go for a more casual look, there's always the option of wearing a white t-shirt underneath.
Regardless of how it's worn, you'll find a sweater vest to be a versatile piece and it's not by coincidence: sweater vests are a creation that was birthed from a focus on practicality.
They are one of the earliest examples of athleisure, an early-20th-century example of a focus on functionality with the lack of sleeves making it a sportsman's essential. Soon the functional pros of going sleeveless made it hugely popular outside of sports, with its biggest surge in popularity coming in the '70s before being sidelined to life as a preppy piece of golf attire.
No doubt influenced by the current '70s resurgence, the sleeveless sweater is once again getting the respect it deserves and we've picked our favorite designs. From a Missoni knit with a pattern that is literally wavy to one featuring a "flower boner," check them out below.
Scroll down to shop our favorite sweater vests.
Bonsai Oversized Knit Gilet
If there's one thing we've come to expect from Bonsai it's colorful patterns, and this vest does not disappoint on that front.
AGR Creative Cable Mohair Vest
AGR is one of the few brands that take truly takes knitting to another level. Though this might be one of the brand's more modestly colored pieces, the vibrant shade of orange is a great choice for your winter blues.
Highsnobiety Loose Knit Sweater Vest
If you're looking for a vest that's going to make a statement, this one comes with a striped design, has a loose-gauge knit that lends the limelight to whatever's underneath it, and is crafted from fluffy alpaca-blend fabric.
Bally St. Moritz Cashmere Vest
Thanks to Rhuigi, Bally is back and looks better than ever. Even if you haven’t had the opportunity to hit the slopes at St. Moritz you can still look the part.
Missoni Wavy Knit Vest
Missoni's signature zig-zag pattern has lost some of its sharp edges on this vest, adopting a more "wavy" look. However, what hasn't changed is the Italian house's expertise in knitwear, which are on full display here.
Dries Van Noten Neptune Sweater Vest
Merino wool has a reputation for being about the softest yarn that you can find, and it is what makes this vest perfectly suited for winter.
Marni Shetland Wool V-Neck Sweater Vest
Marni's reputation for top-tier knitwear has only increased in recent seasons and this sweater vest shows why. With wool that comes straight from the Scottish Shetland Islands, it features a jacquard print and subtle branding that is stitched on the collar.
Highsnobiety Light Alpaca Sweater Vest
Pretty much any alpaca blend is a great place when considering a sweater vest. This two-tone combo is bound to work for any season.
Stüssy Tiger Vest
Though the list of streetwear is virtually endless, Stüssy has remained on top with standout pieces like this graphic vest above. Tiger print rarely looks this modern and effortless.
RÓHE Kick Ribbed Wool Vest
Aside from the optics, the best thing about sweater vests is the ease that comes with layering. The thick tabbed stitching ensures this will remain in your rotation for as long as you like.
Maison Margiela Mock Neck Sweater Vest
If you’re undecided between v-necks and turtleneck collars then the moc neck is definitely your best bet. The mix of materials on this bouclé knit sweater vest is an upgrade compared to other itchy fabrics.
Eckhaus Latta Ribbed Vest
When it comes to gorgeous textiles Eckhaus Latta is in a lane of its own. Aside from crafting this ribbed vest from 100% rayon, the unique jacquard finish is worth the investment.
C2H4 Striped Vest
For those of you that aren’t quite ready to expose it all, CH24’S striped vest is the perfect midpoint to add new styles into your rotation.
Wales Bonner Brixton Vest
If any brand has truly owned the sweater vest for the past few seasons it’s definitely Wales Bonner. This SSENSE exclusive channels Brixton through and through.
JW Anderson Apple Vest
Easily one of the best renditions of an apple since the conception of Apple itself. JW Anderson’s graphic prints are elevated on this v-neck vest crafted with a drop-tail hem for added comfort.
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