The sweater vest trend: knitted vests for 2021

Jenessa Williams 16 February 2021

No longer the domain of teenage varsity nerds and over-zealous knitting grandmas, the world has lent firmly into the return of geek chic this season with the humble sweater vest

A surprisingly versatile layering piece, they are available at all price points to ease the transition between winter and spring. Whether you opt for chunky Scandinavian beige or colourful crochet, take note of our budget-sympathetic styling tips below. 



Outfit 1: Monki Vest (£20), H&M Top (£17.99), Boden Skirt (£30), Sophie Oliver Bag (£15), John Lewis Loafers (£47.50)
Outfit 2: Arket Vest (£59), Zara blouse (£19.99), Marks & Spencer Jeans (£19.50), Reserved Boots (£39.99), Crafted London Necklace (59.99)
Outfit 3: Warehouse Vest (£42), Mango Jeans (£29.99), Gap T-Shirt (£14.95), Soho Home Cashmere Socks (£36), Egos Copenhagen Slippers (£36)

When shopping from the more affordable end of the market, pay close attention to shape and proportions. If you’re opting for a slouchy top, team it with tighter streamlined trousers; for a fitted vest, an A-line skirt or wide-leg jean will balance your chest and give a more intentional silhouette. 

If you’re choosing a buttoned-up style, don’t be afraid to go one size bigger than normal to avoid the dreaded button gap—in cheaper fabrics especially, you want to be able to move freely and layer with a clean-lying placket that doesn’t distract from the impact of the statement garment. 



Outfit 1: Ganni Vest (£159), & Other Stories Blouse (£65), Zara Skirt (£29.99), River Island Shoes (£30), Lulu Guiness Clutch Bag (£55)
Outfit 2: Andersson Bell Vest (£152), Rixo Blouse (£140), Atom Retro Flares (£34.99), ASOS Boots (£64), Oliver Bonas bag (£46), Mini Kyomo Watch (£55)
Outfit 3: Extreme Cashmere Vest (£205), Kitri Studio Dress (£175), Reebok Trainers (£75), La Redoute Coat (£79.99), Colours May Vary Tote bag (£10)

With a little more budget there is more flexibility, but it is all about identifying patterns that will last, styled in knowingly retro ways. There is no hiding the quirky connotations of the sweater vest, so embrace them—blouses with big 70s collars, rich colour clashes, logo-ed accessories. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a jazzy patterned number, choose one that ties into shades you already have in your wardrobe’s colour wheel to ensure maximum wearability. Purples and yellows look great with beige or brown, whereas a block stripe will challenge a monochrome lover to push just that tiny bit past their comfort zone without overcomplication.



Outfit 1: Meryll Rogge Vest (£445), Whistles Jeans (£95), Hobbs Top (£25), Shrimps House Hairclip (£6), Margaux Studios Bracelet (£46), Good News Trainers (£120)
Outfit 2: Raf Simons Vest (£1032), Ksubi Trousers (£230), Sabina Sommer Blouse (£141), Jeffrey Campbell Loafers (£130), Bottega Venetta Earrings (£550), Monica Vinader Bracelet (£160)
Outfit 3: Moncler Genius Vest (£560), John Lewis Tights (£6), & Other Stories Boots (£125), Gucci Sunglasses (£255), Marc Jacobs Tote (£206)

At the high end, the sweater vest is reinvented as something of punky rebellion, subverted from the typical shapes or prim styles you might expect. For the transition between winter and spring 2021, 80s aesthetics are very much in— childlike pastel accessories, tailored double denim, rock n’ roll pattern clashing. 

For the warmer weather to come, a well-chosen longer knit looks great as a dress —simply throw on sheer coloured tights and boots, then toughen up with angular accessories or an oversized tote for a pop of fun. 

Read more: Why you should invest in a silk bonnet

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