Sweater vests: I’m a convert

September 7, 2021 — by Anjali Pai
Photo by Anjali Pai
Junior Anjali Pai styles sweater vests for each of the four seasons.

“Save the Steve Urkel impression for Halloween and just wear regular sweaters instead,” I thought to myself, scrolling through an article about the latest fashion comeback: sweater vests.

Initially, I passionately despised this article of clothing, dismissing it  as odd and tacky. Every time I looked at a sweater vest I couldn’t help but think of grandpas, professors or nerds from classic TV shows, like Steve Urkel from “Family Matters” or Carlton from “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” 

But after seeing YouTuber Emma Chamberlain pull one off  brilliantly on my Instagram feed, my sentiments about sweater vests completely transformed. In her post, Chamberlain wore a beautiful red, orange, yellow, green and blue argyle sweater vest layered over a white collared T-shirt, with a black mini skirt to top it all off. The vibrant pattern of her sweater vest added a unique pop of color that saved her otherwise basic outfit from looking dull.

Plus, Chamberlain’s top fit surprisingly well. It wasn’t skin tight nor did it look stolen from a giant. 

I realized that my preconceived notion of sweater vests all came from images of people wearing ill-fitting ones; I’ve only seen sweater vests presented poorly in the media, often relegated to nerdy or elderly characters. Until I saw Chamberlain’s fabulous outfit, I never noticed the sweater vest’s potential of looking stylish and aesthetically pleasing.

Eager to try this trend for myself, I bought several sweater vests in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns. After styling and wearing them for a couple of days, I was shocked at how cute yet comfortable they were. I knew that they were to be a staple item in my wardrobe. 

Sweater vests are an essential closet item because of their versatility. Due to how easily they can be layered, sweater vests can be worn year round. In the summer, you can wear one on its own as a tank top or over a short sleeved shirt. In the colder seasons, try layering one over a mock neck tee or pairing one with a collared shirt. I especially love layering sweater vests in the winter, as the thicker material of the vest provides extra warmth on top and makes me feel warm and cozy in chilly weather.

Sweater vests also look great with practically anything. Pops of color or patterns on sweater vests add sophistication to any basic outfit

Contrary to my previous beliefs, wearing a sweater vest does not automatically make the wearer a nerd, professor or grandpa. I find that wearing colorful sweater vests with a variety of simple patterns (less is more, you don’t want patterns to look too busy or bold) helps avoid the grandpa look in favor of a popular academia aesthetic.  

I also love that I can experiment with colors by wearing sweater vests in unique shades. Lately, I’ve been obsessed with red, brown and pastel colors, and sweater vests are an easy way to incorporate these shades into my outfits.

I used to struggle to make spicy outfits out of my closet full of boring basics. Before I raided my grandpa’s impressive collection of sweater vests, my outfits were simplistic — even boring. 

My sweater vest fashion awakening shows how good style doesn’t always follow rules and can be constantly reinvented by each generation. Once I opened my mind up to this piece of clothing, I was shocked by the countless ways it could be used and how effortlessly it could spice up or sophisticate a simple outfit. 

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