Tracing The Sweater Vest Trend From Its Origin To A Winter Staple In 2021 Advertisement
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Tracing The Sweater Vest Trend From Its Origin To A Winter Staple In 2021

There's more to the trendy piece than you might know

By Isha Mayer  January 11th, 2021

Apart from shackets (shirt jackets), there’s a trend that’s reappeared this winter. For those who love knitwear and light layering, you’re in for a treat. The sweater vest trend is here to stay and we’re all for it.

But did you know that the sweater vest was traditionally designed for menswear and was criticised for its impractical design? One thought: how does a sleeveless sweater solve the purpose of keeping oneself warm? And you might wonder how it is such a huge trend right now. Let’s go back into history to find out.

Even though people thought it was a fashion faux pax, the sweater vest was actually designed keeping functionality in mind. It was made for people indulging in sports like rowing, in order to encourage sweating and weight loss. Later, in the 1900s, it was said that football players in Michigan abandoned the sleeves of their uniforms for a more breathable alternative and ever since then, football coaches were seen sporting the silhouette.

The trend had become a hit in the 1930s in menswear after President Woodrow Wilson wore it in the 1910s and President Herbert Hoover in the 1920s. Thereafter, the design continued in the coming years and was available in various colours and patterns. 

The knitted piece has also made appearances on-screen when Chandler Bing, a character played by Mathew Perry on the popular sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S sported it the most, and also on the lead character of Clueless, Cher Horowitz (played by Alicia Silverstone). And from the 1990s to the present day, it began to appear on female models on the runways of ace designers like Dior, Givenchy, Prada and more, making it a gender-neutral piece.

Chandler Bing played by Mathew Perry in FRIENDS
Cher Horowitz played by Alicia Silverstone in Clueless

Prior to the Fall 2020 runway shows, which was dominated by the sweater vests, the trend gained massive attention when supermodel Bella Hadid and pop singer Harry Styles donned the knitted piece in 2019 on the streets of Paris and Manhatten respectively. Since then, both celebrities have been spotted sporting this trend. Styles even donned the sweater vest along with Phoebe Waller-Bridge in his recent music video, Treat People With Kindness. Now isn’t that more proof that the trend is only here to stay in 2021?

Bella Hadid 
Harry Styles
A still from Harry Styles' new music video, Treat People With Kindness

And let’s not forget the trend’s rise on social media: type #sweatervest on Instagram and you’ll get over 76.6k posts on it. There’s no doubt it has become every fashion blogger’s favourite winter staple.

From its classic dorky style, the sleeveless sweater has come a long way in terms of design and has made a place as a gender-fluid piece. Whether you choose to wear it over a shirt or over a dress, the sweater vest is proving to be a perfect choice for light layering. Wondering how to go about styling it? Here are some trendy lewks we’ve discovered on the ‘gram for you to get all the inspiration.

sweater vest
Brittany Xavier
Taylor Hage
Nilu Yuleena Thapa
Alicia Roddy
Aimee Song

We’re totally on board with this trend and believe it’s chic, uber-cool and perfect for light layering. What’s your say?

Photographs: Getty, Instagram