There’s a reason stylish luminaries like Tyler, the Creator swear by the sweater vest: when it comes to warm-weather layering the silhouette remains undefeated. The sweater vest’s gradual emergence as a streetwear staple beloved by the most discerning dressers in the world—and the type of enthusiasts who document their every outfit—clinches it: There might not be a cooler piece of knitwear on the planet. (Not convinced? Peep the most recent bout of street style from NYFW and count the sweater vests in attendance.)
All of which is good news for you and your feebly-protesting credit card. Because the sweater vest’s surging popularity means there’s never been more options on the market, from woolly designer versions in kaleidoscopic colors to Supima cotton takes so soft you might mistake ’em for sleeveless hoodies. Wear one with a short-sleeve T-shirt (or sans any shirt entirely!) as summer draws to an end, and then swap out the tee for the type of unfussy button-downs we’ve been championing come fall.
To help you get on board with the bona fide sweater vest renaissance, we assembled a heavy-hitting roster of the best sweater vests for men available right now—each and every one of them further proof that the once fuddy-duddy layer is really, truly a must-have item.
The Best Retro-Leaning Sweater Vest
Listen, we fully considered adding Todd Snyder’s vintage-inspired sweater to the top of this list entirely without comment. The pattern, people! You’re seeing this, right? It practically speaks for itself. But if you’re the curious type it helps to know a few more details, like the sweater’s make (7 gauge merino wool, thank you very much) and the inspiration behind it (the New York art scene of the ’80s). All that, however, plays second fiddle to the powerful visual punch it packs, courtesy of an argyle pattern that’d make even the most senior vintage trawler tear up in delight. This is the type of sweater that’d go for an astronomical sum hanging on the wood-stained racks of the snootiest second-hand shops in the world—and now’s your chance to snag it before it gets that far.
The Best Budget Sweater Vest
Land’s End, it should be noted, doesn’t quite have what you might call a “storied designer pedigree”. (There are no grizzled industry craftspeople laboring over every stitch in an airy European atelier.) What it does have, though, is a history of turning out quality basics that won’t fall apart after a couple of wears, let alone a few tussles with the laundry machine. Case in point: this cheery eggshell yellow sweater, made out of a hearty cotton-modal yarn that prevents pilling and helps the sweater retain its shape in the long run, no matter how many times you dribble your Pét-Nat all over the front. Size up for a fit that’s more downtown skater type than backup tenor in an all-boys church choir, and prepare to be plied with the inevitable “Where’d you get that?” double-takes.
The Best Designer Sweater Vest
Marni designer Francesco Risso has a way with knitwear. How else to explain the omnipresence of his shaggy mohair cardigans, an exuberantly-colored NBA tunnel staple and a perennial favorite of deep-pocketed fashion lovers the world over? So it’s no surprise the brand also makes killer sweater vests aplenty, each one more delightfully unhinged than the last. We’re especially partial to this one, expertly-crafted in a dialed-down geometric pattern with contrast ribbed trims. If you’re intrigued by the idea of wearing a sweater vest with nothing but an exposed clavicle and some kooky DIY necklaces beneath it, there’s few better knits to start with.
The Best Of-The-Moment Sweater Vest
What happens when the foremost tracksuit virtuoso of her generation turns her judicious eye to the humble sweater vest? Amazing things, apparently. In the British upstart’s capable hands every last detail is carefully considered, from the Jamaica-inspired color palette to the scoop neck and artfully rolled edges, all done up in a fuzzy chenille fabric that doesn’t look like any other on this list. If you’ve seen this sweater before, it’s probably all over your timeline. Congratulations: you officially follow very stylish people. Cop one yourself and join their ranks.
The Best Button-Front Sweater Vest
If you’re tired of the same old pullover options Ralph Lauren has your back—and your front. On the hunt for a sweater vest that won’t look dated in a few years time? Who better to turn to than the first name in classic Americana, a brand that still does Fair Isle better than almost anyone outside of the Shetland island itself. Braided leather buttons add a dose of charmingly stodgy appeal you could lean into by pairing with a rumpled Oxford cloth button-down or subvert with a plain white tee and a gold box chain.
The Best Zip-Up Sweater Vest
You know those days when you’re halfway out the door before you check the weather app and realize you’re going to need another layer? Those are the days COS’ zip-up sweater is built for. Crafted from a soft, breathable cotton that’ll hug your torso in all the right ways, it’s the sweatshirt alternative you’ve been waiting on, finally here to save your most humdrum fits from the dastardly clutches of confounding transitional weather.
Plus 13 More Sweater Vests We Love