Move over mom jeans and chunky dad sneakers. Knit sweater vests are the new familial fashion trend taking over.
These cozy and comfortable, sleeveless sweaters started to emerge last year. They became the newest and nostalgic way to style your outfits in the last few months of 2020. Fashion is no stranger to taking inspiration from the 90s, so the chunky knit sweater vest is a perfect Steve Urkel callback. But this resurgence is 2021’s very own. Brands like Prada and Gucci have even showcased their sweaters in recent runways.
Sweater vests have gotten that rep of being an article of clothing your grandparents owned. But this “ugly” trend is getting its chance to be beautified and make its way into the modern world.
So how do you jump headfirst and give your appearance a little bit of nerd academia? I’ll admit, the sweater vest does look a little bit threatening. The tight fit or chunky oversized look, the solid print or bold print, the range of colors and designs can make you think, “When am I really going to wear this?”
But the versatility of a sweater vest is what’s making it a staple accessory! You can wear it on its own like a casual tank top. Or you can go to the more common styling route of the trend by wearing it over a long-sleeved collared blouse paired with wide-leg jeans or with a pleated tennis skirt. You can also swap the blouse for a top like a turtleneck or mock neck.
One way to know if a piece has a place in your closet is if a constantly fashion-forward celebrity wears it. You know the saying, “It’s ugly until Rihanna decides it’s not.” And we haven’t seen Rihanna wear it yet, but other celebrities have been rocking the trend just fine.
Actor and singer, Harry Styles, is one celebrity embracing the sweater vest. Many of the musician’s fashion sense is inspired by previous decades: wide-leg flares, chunky platform boots, pearl necklaces. The singer has worn a variety of sweaters, including in the video for his Grammy Award-nominated song, “Adore You” and for a SiriusXM x Pandora performance.
Bella Hadid, Alexa Chung, and Zoë Kravitz’s character, Rob, in the sadly short-lived Hulu show, High Fidelity, also rocked the sweater vest trend.
Or you can always go to the online fashion oracle that is TikTok to see if you should invest in a sweater vest. TikTok’s impact on fashion is immeasurable. Once a trend hits the app, it’s front and center for weeks until a new style comes along. The app has seen Gen Z’s rendition of Y2K fashion, the whimsicality of the cottagecore aesthetic, and the edgy e-girl aesthetic becomes prominent moments of fashion. The tag #sweatervest on the app has more than 27 million views, with users showing off how to rock an array of vests.
But if you don’t depend on celebrities to dictate your fashion sense or haven’t gotten aboard to the digital runway that is TikTok, here are seven stylish sweater vests to get you started.
01 H&M Cable-Knit Houndstooth Sweater Vest
The houndstooth pattern is one of the more common prints that can be found on these vests. The houndstooth, or dogtooth pattern, might be seen as a little outdated and as fashion history (maybe because it quite literally originated in the 19th century), but we’re letting it have its modern moment. H&M is home to a multitude of sweater vests, but the houndstooth pattern is an iconic and irreplaceable pattern that anyone can rock. The slits on the side and a slightly high-low cut give a slight edge to this cute cable-knit. If you aren’t ready to sink your teeth into houndstooth, H&M also has this vest in plain cream color.
Live your Lady Bird fantasy with this black sweater vest. Coming in other shades like stone and light blue, this ribbed black knit vest goes with just about anything, so don’t be afraid to add this to your sweater arsenal. If the black is too plain for you, however, don’t be afraid to wear a blouse with a fun print.
A turtleneck is a staple fashion piece. But a sky blue turtleneck knitted vest is a one-of-a-kind item. The chunky, rolled neck look of the turtleneck is one of the vest’s best features. Sky blue was named Etsy’s 2021 Color of the Year, a hopeful sign that this year may be better and provide some tranquility. Hopefully, this turtleneck brings you some calming vibes.
Argyle is another print that’s been stitched into these sweater vests. It’s a classic pattern! This sweater from Princess Polly gives a pop of color to this vintage feel of the vest. Argyle sweater vests are by far one of the more popular designs. The best-selling sweater vests of online stores like Shein and Romwe get showcased on TikTok in viral styling videos. This quirky vest would definitely be Harry Styles approved.
The boxy shape and rounded neck give this a more sophisticated look. The color is also a plus as well. It can go with a pair of brown bottoms as Mango chose to style it or an all-white look complemented with gold jewelry.
06 Urban Outfitters Knitted Fair Isle Sweater Vest
The grandpa cardigan has taken on a life of its own in the form of a sweater vest. This quirky print draws inspiration from the Fair Isle knit style, courtesy of Fair Isle, the island south of Scotland. This pattern gained notoriety when the royals wore them in pictures or were photographed wearing them while they traveled. The multicolor geometric pattern with colors of green and red go so well with the light purple color. It’s a fresh take on the traditional white or gray sweater with accents of brown, black, or blue.
Build up your sweater vest collection with the Buttercup sweater vest from Peppermayo. The soft yellow color, boxy print, and embroidered floral detail pattern scream spring, even if we’re a month away. Not to mention, the scalloped sleeves and neckline provide a little extra drama to the knit vest. Like any other sweater vest, it creates a great look whether worn by itself or with a long-sleeved shirt.