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We've been seeing vests a lot lately. Mostly in knitwear form, given the current arctic temperatures in Australia. But when we’re gawking at the style inspiration served up by our Northern friends or runways predicting trends for the seasons ahead, it’s hard to miss the presence of waistcoats right now.
The waistcoat (or vest, to some) is undeniably the new It-top of the year, already spotted on runway collections of Saint Laurent, Celine, Telfar, Miu Miu and more. And it’s trickled into socials thanks to the likes of Bella Hadid, Dua Lipa, and plenty of our favourite style bloggers. One person who really solidified the waistcoat's return was Kendall Jenner, who recently proved the everyday capabilities of a vest in all its smart-casual perfection.
Heroing the neutral button-up top by Daniele Alessandrini, Jenner was photographed channelling a '90s look with black, oversized trousers, a statement bag by Stine Goya and chunky slides by Alias Mae. The look was a demonstration in workwear made casual — perhaps stemming from our longing for office life again? Who knows.
But this isn’t the first time we’ve had waistcoat fever. Cast your mind back to a time when Kate Moss’ Glastonbury looks were a staple on mood boards, and everyone was rocking a side fringe. An itty-bitty waistcoat was the hottest final touch to any outfit — along with some feather earrings.
This time around, waistcoats are more structured, taking cues from menswear, more and more of us are using these bad boys to bring a sense of polish to our looks, whether it’s thrown over a cottagecore-esque shirt with an oversized collar, or worn on its own as a top.
In a time that is seeing so much change in the way we work and live, a waistcoat is a sartorial power move, particularly when worn by itself with matching trousers. It's an ode to the enduring strength of traditional tailoring but given a modern twist that feels subversive.
Styling a waistcoat is a bit of a free-for-all. There are no rules with what to wear them with, really. Our favourite ways are when it's worn as a top, or layered on top of an oversized button-up shirt and some sleek trousers. If you're planning on wearing yours sans layers, look for the 'shrunken' iterations that sit more cropped and fitted than your average menswear waistcoat. If you have the skill or the patience, you can usually find these in abundance at thrift stores. They may require some taking in or repairs, but you'll likely save some coin in the process.
So if you’re keen to give the trend a whirl, scroll on for our top picks.