I was sold on the sweater vest after watching Mrs America. Came for the feminism, stayed for the fashion. Story of my life, only sometimes it’s the other way around. The cerebral, earth-toned glamour of Gloria Steinem and her entourage is one of my desert-island looks. (See also, for bookish elegance: Miuccia Prada, whose real-life sweater-and-skirt wardrobe is possibly the chicest thing in the world.)
Thrillingly, I have identified a sweater vest-shaped vacancy in our new season wardrobes. I say “thrillingly”; please bear in mind that it’s all relative, and that the bar for thrilling in 2020 is low-ish. Oh, and when I say “new season wardrobes” – well, that’s all relative, too. What I mean is that I sometimes find wearing clothes that are a bit different from the clothes you wore yesterday helps stave off the groundhog sense of being a tiny bit bored of a day before it’s even started.
Anyway, the sweater vest vacancy is thanks to the fact that after a spell when it seemed I was gearing up for a partial return to the office, we were spun back to a work-from-home order that, at the time of writing, looks set to take us through the winter. A kitchen-table-laptop working day has different wardrobe requirements from a train-Pret-office one. I’m not talking about boardroom-versus-Zoom mind games; I’m talking about central-heating settings. Unless you plan to leave the heating on all day, you will need an extra layer. For an office day, your extra layer would be the jacket you slung over your chair and put on for the coffee run. But a work-from-home layer is for the long hours of sitting still, especially as the weather cools and the afternoons dim early, and you edge toward the spot near the window, where there is a little more light, but also a draught.
A sweater vest is an efficient body warmer. It is cosy without being cumbersome. It turns a denim shirt and jeans into a look, and adds at least a month to the shelf-life of a ditzy-print, midi-hem dress that you would otherwise have to pack away till next spring. Layer over a Zoom-friendly eye-catching sleeve, and that’s your new season wardrobe right there.