In Praise of the Sweater Vest . . .

In the fall of 1996 I was a college junior. I lived in a three-bedroom on-campus apartment with five other guys. I listened to a LOT of Beck's Odelay, The Score from The Fugees, and Sublime while Ani DiFranco's Dilate had me wondering how I had spent my whole life without listening to "independent" artists but there was ONE thing in my life that was independent. Fiercely independent.

You see, dear reader, my closet was full of something the ladies simply could not resist (as witnessed by me not losing my virginity for another seven years) . . . sweater vests.

I started wearing sweater vests (by choice) at the ripe old age of six and I never looked back. Is there anything sweeter than a sleeveless layer of warmth on a cool fall night, a frozen winter morning, or the indecisive days of spring?

I mean sure, sure . . . there is no logical reason to want a warm torso without warm arms except one simple reason . . . mobility.

You could argue vests are good for fashion . . . You want to show more of a sweet plaid shirt under a solid sweater than just the collar and cuffs? You want a wide band of argyle over your button placard? All those are good reasons but not WHY the sweater vests kicks butt. They come in all sort of fabrics (please avoid synthetics - they are ugly and a plague on fashion. I suggest merino wool over cotton or cashmere (both excellent choices)).

The real reason for sweater vest popularity is science. That's right. That's right. PHYSICS. You want to layer a shirt and a sports coat? Sweater vests are better than full-blown sweaters. You want to dance away an evening to Dave Matthews Band? You need to have your arms free. You want to shotgun beer by the pitcher? Shoot from the shoulder. You want to properly worship on a Sunday evening in the theater on campus? Vest-iments.

Now I know, I know. Sweater vests are funny looking. They aren't "cool". They aren't trendy. They aren't becoming. They don't help seduce women. They don't make you smarter, more popular, or more agile. They just make life more scientific. They just put physics on your back and chest. They just look and feel terrific.