New York Fashion Week is in full swing and there are more than a few new trends I’m keeping my eye on this season. However, there’s one item of clothing that I can count on to be just as massive in 2021 as it was last year, if not more: Sweater vests. The divisive sleeveless sweater is here to stay—and personally, I am stoked about it. I’ve been waiting for the moment when I can start fully dressing like a grandpa every day and have it be considered cool. It looks like my time has finally come.
If anything, the Autumn/Winter 2021 runways showed me just how versatile the humble sweater vest trend can be. A red iteration was styled over a puff-sleeved top at Tanya Taylor. At C+ Plus, vests were covered in red roses. STAUD, on the other hand, stuck to a more classic aesthetic, showing a tan vest worn with coordinating brown pants.
But wait, there’s more! Longline vests were layered over white maxi skirts at Jason Wu and worn over ditsy floral dresses at Adam Lippes. The Row, keeping with their seasonless and trendless aesthetic, styled oversized black sweater vests with other monochromatic pieces like wide-leg trousers, turtlenecks and Chelsea boots.
I guess I should have expected sweater vests to pop up in Veronica Beard’s Autumn/Winter 2021 collection. The brand has been known for its selection of elevated and feminine pieces, after all. However, I was surprised to see them made from a chunkier, fisherman-style knit rather than a lightweight alternative. If some of the other brands are dreaming of summer weather right now, Veronica Beard’s vests actually offer the promise of real warmth this winter, even sans sleeves.
Even cool-kid brand Y/Project had something to say on the matter: The sweater vests in their new collection were decidedly edgier than the rest. Instead of being neatly tucked into perfectly-fitting pants, the vests were slouchy, lived-in and worn slightly off the shoulder. I think these vests would look more appropriate in the Dean’s office at your local private high school after someone broke the dress code rather than on a high-fashion runway. Of course, that is precisely the vibe I’m going for. I may not actually be in high school still, but I can still dress like I am, right?…Right?
Trends may come and go, but it looks like sweater vests are officially here for good. Whatever your opinion is on the retro style, I think that we can all agree that the market is chock-full of different versions for you to try out. The one-time viral TikTok fashion trend has shown that it’s totally wearable in the real world outside of minute-long dance videos.
Let me be the first to tell you that the sweater vest has officially grown up and should be taken seriously, dammit! So go ahead, swap your favorite cashmere sweater for a vest this season. If you’re not sure about how to style one, start by buying a basic color and work your way towards brighter hues and bolder patterns.
Read on to shop nine of my recently-discovered favorites. From versions in shades of navy and cream from brands like Zara and Eloquii to vibrant florals alternatives from SHEIN, the possibilities truly run the gamut. Happy shopping!
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Oversized Knitwear Vest
If you’re a first-time sweater vest shopper, why not pick one up in this classic shade! This is truly a sweater for all seasons because of how lightweight it is—layer it over a turtleneck now and a t-shirt later.
Floral & Geo Pattern Sweater Vest
I’m not usually a colorful prints type of gal, but there’s something about this abstract floral sweater that’s pulling me in. Maybe it’s the fact that I currently have too many neutral sweater vests in my collection? Either way, I’m buying it.
High Neck Knitted Vest
This chunkier knit was made for layering under oversized blazers. I don’t make the rules! The creamy color is super flattering, and the thicker texture means you can get away with layering a thermal tank underneath for added warmth, but don’t necessarily need a second top to pair it with at all.
Knit Argyle Vest
Pink and red outfits are everywhere right now, but this argyle vest is making me think that I should try styling orange and pink together next time I run outside to buy groceries. Elle Woods would be seriously disturbed, but still.
Knitted Cricket Sweater Vest
I don’t miss high school but I do miss my preppy uniform from time to time. This vintage-feeling sweater vest from Urban Outfitters is giving me schoolgirl vibes in a borrowed-from-the-boys type of way.
Easy Street Vest
Lavender is an unexpected color that looks great in pretty much any season, so I’m shocked I don’t already have any purple pieces in my wardrobe. This lightweight sweater vest is currently at the top of my to-buy list.
Long Sweater Vest
Longline sweater vests like this tan option from Eloquii are great for layering over leggings or leather pants. Or, you know, to wear as a dress. I would definitely style this atop a crisp white button-down for my next Zoom meeting.
Take Me Back Checked Vest
Light colors are making a major comeback this season, so I obviously had to include a pastel sweater vest on this list. The shrunken shape won’t overwhelm petite frames and can be perfectly tucked into a pair of high-rise jeans.
Oversized Houndstooth Knitted Vest
I just had to include a houndstooth sweater vest on this list—they’ve been taking over my entire TikTok feed! This inexpensive option from Amazon proves that the print has real IRL styling potential.