Sweater Vests Are Back And Better Than Ever. Here's How To Style Them

For the past couple of seasons, we have seen the rise of "dad fashion" everywhere in the fashion world. From using your dad's chunky sneakers or oversized button-downs, wearing your dad's fashion has never been more popular.

One item that has stood out from this trend is the sweater vest. After being a standout piece from the '90s, the sweater vest has become the newest piece to get its return into the spotlight. Brand marketing consultant Jen Olsen tells The Zoe Report, "It speaks to how people want to dress these days, using simple foundation pieces that you can wear many times in many different ways."

Although a blast from the past, the sweater vest modernized to fit in with our hectic lives and has gained chic new details. Once a staple for academics on television in the '90s, they are now the go-to for fashion models' off-duty looks. So no matter your style, the sweater vest is the perfect addition to your wardrobe.

1. Layered over button downs

One of the most popular ways to sport your sweater vest is by going for an academic style and layering it over a button-down shirt. Arguably one of the most classic workwear looks, pairing these items lets you dress up your sweater vest with little effort.

This combination between sweater vests and button-ups is a favorite among minimalists because it is sleek and classic but doesn't go over the top. This look is perfect for the office, with Stacee Michelle telling TODAY, "A white button-up is simple and won't overwhelm the sweater vest look." Michelle also explains how even with a professional top half, you can make your office look more casual by pairing it with oversized or baggy jeans. Playing up with the proportions is an excellent way to make your look more modern and fresh.

If the idea of going too professional doesn't appeal to you, you can also play with the colors of your button-up and sweater vests. To downplay the seriousness, you can opt for a bright-colored button-down or brightly colored sweater vest to create a more trendy combination. Lands' End suggests going the opposite way and opting for a completely monochromatic look to make your statement. They also suggest a pairing of white on white, black on black, etc., for a look that goes outside the box but retains its chicness.

2. Wear it over a dress

This new modern take on the sweater vest means that you can now wear it over almost anything. If you are keen on a chic but statement look, you can pair your sweater vest with something more unexpected, like a dress.

Wearing a sweater vest over your dress can be your go-to uniform for those in-between months when you don't know what to put on. According to H&M, this combination is the perfect transitional outfit since it will keep you warm but still give you the freedom to be cool or warm. Pairing these items is the best way you can also liven up an old dress that perhaps has been used quite a few times. Throwing on a sweater vest over top lets you act like that old dress is a whole new item.

While this combination may first seem too youthful or feminine for some, there are ways that you can make it much more minimalist and grown-up. Taking a cue from Co's Fall 2022 Ready-To-Wear show, pair a chunky knit sweater vest with a knit midi dress of the same color for a look that is bound to be a fall/winter statement look.

3. Combine a statement sweater vest with a statement bottom

For those in love with maximalist fashion, there's no shortage of options when it comes to sweater vests. In recent times, celebrities like Harry Styles have turned your typical sweater vest into your new favorite statement piece. However, you don't have to just stop at your sweater vest if you want to make a statement.

One way you can wear a sweater vest and stand out from the crowd is by pairing it with an equal but contrasting statement bottom. Whether this is a completely opposite color or print, wearing two stand-out pieces like this ensures that you'll make a statement. Looking at Kenneth Ize's Fall 2020 Ready-To-Wear collection, you can add some cohesion to your look by pulling one similar color between your sweater vest and bottoms to have at least one similarity between the two.

Opting for a printed sweater vest is the best way to take this common menswear item and give it a feminine, quirky twist.

4. Wear it over a plain t-shirt

Considering the sweater vest is an ode to the '90s trend, one way to style the piece is to go head first into the '90s. To really encapsulate the sweater vest in its nostalgic journey, try simply wearing a sweater over a plain short sleeve tee. This combination is both easy to style and as chic as when Rachel Green wore it on Friends.

Taking an ode from Y2K revivals icon Olivia Rodrigo, pair your favorite sweater vest over any color plain t-shirt and mix in any of your other favorite '90s trends for a chic, nostalgic look. This look proves to be a chic way to wear this piece in a laidback, casual way.

The Row's Fall 2022 Ready-To-Wear collection also serves as an example of how you can use a sweater and white t-shirt to achieve an eclectic but chic look. Matching neutrals together gives you a polished look while still mixing in different fabrics in order to give your '90s-inspired outfit a fresh, modern twist.

5. Wear it on its own

Even though sweater vests are a staple for the fall and winter seasons, they can also be the perfect spring/summer wardrobe addition. Trends like cabincore and cottagecore have taught us that sweater vests don't always have to be layered in order to look stylish.

Like Dua Lipa has shown, sweater vests can also be styled perfectly without the need for anything underneath. Ever since these pieces have become popular once again, we've been shown how all it takes is your favorite sweater vest to make an outfit.

Looking at previous collections from designers like Molly Goddard and J.W. Anderson, statement print and color sweater vests can make the perfect top for any outfit. As well, you can reach for your favorite black or white sweater vest and pair it with a pair of jeans for a smart and chic look. If you want to wear this trend piece on a warmer day, opt for a fabric like cotton, which will breathe easier and be much cooler for a hot day.