What is a Sweater Vest?

J. Beam

A sweater vest is an article of clothing that is knitted, like a sweater, but has no sleeves, like a vest. As with short and long-sleeved sweaters, a vest can have any number of stitch patterns, such as cable or double moss, and can be made from any variety of yarns including cotton, wool, or polyester. Similarly, there are any number of styles that it may come in, including cardigan style, crew neck and V-neck.

Knitting patterns for sweater vests may be found online.
Knitting patterns for sweater vests may be found online.

In fashion trend history, the sweater vest has been around for decades and was particularly popular in the 1970s, especially in the UK. Typically paired with a button down oxford shirt, it was first popular with men’s fashion but has become a garment worn by both men and women. A sweater vest can be paired with a turtle neck shirt, a collared shirt, a T-shirt, or even a simple sleeveless shell. Though the it has seen many various fashion styles, for many, this item of clothing invokes images of a golfer or a high school math teacher.

Sweater vests have been a popular type of cool weather clothing for decades.
Sweater vests have been a popular type of cool weather clothing for decades.

In more recent fashion trends, the sweater vest has seen a revival as an accompaniment to a short-sleeved T-shirt. Argyle patterns are particularly popular, as are checkered and striped patterns. The vest is not uncommon to sports, as many golfers wear them and Jim Tressel, Ohio State University head football coach is a notable example of wearer. It is also common to see this clothing as part of a young boy’s dress attire, paired with a button down shirt, a tie, and casual dress pants. It is also a popular garment for knitting patterns, with a variety of styles including button and zip cardigan, being the most popular.

Many name brand manufacturers attach their label to the sweater vest including Ralph Lauren, L.L. Bean, and Levis Dockers. When shopping for one, consumers should remember that it can be paired with both casual and dressier attire, depending on the style. It should be cared for in the same way as any other type of sweater and will be reflected on the care label.

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Discussion Comments


While traveling in Europe one summer, one of the things I wanted to find was a hand knit sweater vest. It ended up being a hurried trip and I realized at the end that I had not found what I wanted.

On our way through the airport to come home there was a great shop that had several styles of knitted sweater vests. I found a perfect v neck sweater vest - just what I was looking for. I love the warmth of the wool and the hand knit design.

I don't wear it as often as I thought I would just because you can't throw it in the wash to clean, but love the style and versatility of it.


I have always loved wearing vests and have a couple of favorite sweater vests that I wear often. My workplace is always cold, and I keep a zippered women's sweater vest at work all the time.

It is not as bulky as wearing a sweater over my clothes, but still gives extra warmth and is easy to put on and take off as needed. Because it is a solid color it will go with just about anything, and gets worn a lot throughout the year.

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