As we now look toward fall, it’s time to put some key items in place for our cool weather wardrobes. Transitional garments, which can bridge all the seasons and can be added a layer at a time, are the ones that I look to first. Such is the case with the simple vest.
While doing my research I found that the very term “vest” is derived from the French; veste, the Italian; vesta, and the Latin vestis. It’s said that in England during the 15th century, monarchs and other royalty were the stylish rock-stars of the day. King Charles II is said to have popularized the waistcoat, which he wore underneath another coat while sitting on the throne and at public appearances. With that, layering clothes for fashion began. The word for what is basically a sleeveless jacket has different meanings around the world. For example, it is called a waistcoat in the UK. Here in the US and Canada we call it a vest. Of course we know that a vest can also be worn as an outer garment alone, such as a camouflage hunting vest, or a down filled version that skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts wear in the fall and winter. The ones that I’ll focus on are the menswear inspired vests that were once part of a three-piece suit, and the sleeveless sweater vest, both of which will figure prominently into a fashion forward wardrobe for the upcoming season.
Now is the time to start looking at the Goodwill you frequent for one or two of these fashion staples. Ladies should always look over the menswear section and see what they may be able to find. A classic fabric like a wool pinstripe or hound’s-tooth pattern is the way to go here. This will be worn over a dress shirt with or without a tie. I have also seen this look done over a shirtwaist dress, for a more contemporary, less classic look. There isn’t really a wrong way to use this garment when it comes to creating memorable style.
The great thing about garments such as vests is that they’re usually size adjustable. Most are business in the front, with the nice fabric, and satin lining material in the back. I guess that’s because when worn with a suit, you really don’t see that part, so they sometimes don’t look as nice. This is why it’s important if you do find one that may be too large for you, to have it taken in by sewing a seam down the back, and removing the cinching mechanisms if they look like they’re creating a pleat or a gap.
The sweater vest is another way to go here if you so choose. I tend to prefer the more tailored look of a button down, but fashion is always about you doing what makes you feel great. I often see knit vests on the women’s and menswear racks at Goodwill in a variety of shapes and sizes. For women they are sometimes thought of as a shell that would be worn alone under a jacket. You could also alter a long sleeved sweater by removing the sleeves and stitching around the arm openings. Maybe I’ll do that for an upcoming article!
As always, I’m here to give you some fashion food for thought. A great outfit is composed of color, pattern, and texture - period. That’s why having pieces in your wardrobe that can be added or subtracted with other pieces is what awesome style is all about. So step out and create some “vested interest” in your daily look for pennies on the dollar at the Goodwill Store & Donation Center near you!