Shop The Trend: Sweater Vests And How To Wear Them

This sleeveless garment has been making a comeback in the 2020s.

It’s officially fall, which means it’s time to embrace “sweater weather.” But this year, the sweater of choice seems to be of the sleeveless, layer-friendly variety: the sweater vest.

Sweater vests were very much on display at New York Fashion Week earlier this month, from the outfits on display at runway shows to the street style ensembles on attendees and others strolling around the scene.

Getty Images/David Dee Delgado/Daniel Zuchnik/Shannon Finney

Lately, a number of celebrities have also been photographed wearing sweater vests at public appearances or as they’ve gone about their everyday lives.

Eddie Redmayne (left) sported a green Gucci sweater vest at an event in London on Sept. 6, and Kendall Jenner (right) stepped out in an oversized number in New York the following week. Back in July, Tyler, the Creator (center) hit the BET Awards red carpet in a red animal print sweater vest.

Left to right: Eddie Redmayne, Tyler, the Creator and Kendall Jenner.
Getty Images/David M. Benett/Rich Fury/Gotham
Left to right: Eddie Redmayne, Tyler, the Creator and Kendall Jenner.

This piece of knitwear is hardly a brand new trend. In the 1970s, sweater vests were all the rage, especially brightly colored print designs. Before her royal days, Lady Diana Spencer wore them to work as nursery teacher’s assistant in the early 1980s, and A-listers like Brad Pitt could be seen in them on the red carpet in the 1990s.

Over time, the sleeveless garment took on a preppy connotation ― likely due to (or at least helped by) its association with preppy sports like golf and cricket. The sports connection expanded as American football coaches like Jim Tressel started wearing sweater vests on the sidelines in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Beyond athletics, the sweater vest also has ties to iconic characters in pop culture, including Chandler Bing on “Friends,” Cher Horowitz in “Clueless,” Steve Urkel on “Family Matters,” Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” and the titular character of the animated show “Doug.”

Chandler Bing (left) and the ladies from "Clueless."
Chandler Bing (left) and the ladies from "Clueless."

In the 2020s, the sleeveless sweater has made a cozy comeback thanks in part to TikTok users’ love for reviving styles of the past. Members of K-pop sensation BTS have also shown an affinity for the look.

While the sweater vests trending now tend to be mainly pullovers, you can also opt for a button-down or zippered choice.

Like solids and prints? You’re in luck. There are countless color options and a number of whimsical or classic patterns ― from houndstooth to argyle to checkered to strawberry print. And although the oversized vest look is having a moment, there are plenty of cropped and form-fitting styles to try as well.

When it comes to styling this garment, the sky’s the limit. You may wear your vest on its own as a top or layered over another shirt, like a button-down or plain tee. In the layering realm, you also have the choice between a voluminous shirt with lots of fabric at the sleeves or a smaller top that fits more snugly under the vest. Pants, skirts, and shorts all pair well on the bottom.

Street style stars showing how to wear a sweater vest.
Getty Images/Christian Vierig/Edward Berthelot
Street style stars showing how to wear a sweater vest.

Whether you’re looking to channel Gen Z’ers on TikTok or pay homage to your grandpa, the key is to choose the vest that feels right for you and style it accordingly. If you’re looking to try out the sweater vest trend, we’ve rounded up some fun options below.

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