The International Sweater Vestival Day is observed annually on the second Friday after Thanksgiving, which falls on December 2 this year. Whether you love or are completely indifferent to sweater vests, you cannot deny that the fashion staple is making a fashionable comeback. And this fashion-forward holiday encourages people all over the world to wear a sweater vest and ask others to do the same. This is why we love the thought of celebrating International Sweater Vestival Day. The whole point behind this idea? To connect with others, as there is no other garment that is worn by such diverse groups of people — from hipsters to older people and to those just looking to stay warm.
History of International Sweater Vestival
This diverse piece of clothing was designed with functionality in mind, even as people thought it was a mistake. It was made for people indulging in sports, to help them sweat, and thus, help them lose weight. Julia Felsenthal, then a staff writer at “Slate Magazine,” wrote a history piece about the sweater vest, tracing this garment back to 1882 when rowers first wore these with one big difference — they were long-sleeved. The piece does not indicate when the sleeves were chopped off to mimic the now-popular style, but it is believed that football players from Michigan abandoned the sleeves to breathe better while playing, and it has been a staple ever since.
This humble garment then became a common sight by the 1900s; men everywhere wore it with pride. Soon enough, the sweater vest crossed the gender barrier too. Stars adopted this garment with excitement, namely the lead character of Clueless, Cher Horowitz, and later Eleanor Roosevelt, who wore the sweater vest with her tweeds in 1934, creating another fashion statement. Ace designers Dior, Givenchy, and Prada also put this garment on runways, cementing its place in popular imagination.
The World Wars brought other matters to the public eye, and the sweater vest lost its place for a little while. By the 1970s, the sweater vest was making inroads into fashion again, although in places like the U.K.
The sweater vest has been used by sports fans (especially those that enjoy golf) and American football team coaches for a long time. It has remained a supplementary fashion icon ever since, except in the 21st century, when the Spring/Summer 2017 runway presentation saw major designers such as Raf Simons and Prada play with the sweater vest again. By 2020, the sweater vest was exploding all over the internet, with celebrities paying tribute to this garment and fashion houses swearing it is the next best thing.
The facts about who created this day are a little murky. The only mention we could find is in a “Boston Globe” article, by reporter Carolyn Johnson. Some people believe Johnson to be the one who coined the term ‘Sweater Vestival, ‘ others think she might have had a partner, but no one can say for sure. Did you know Knoxville, Tennessee, has an unrelated version of this day which, weirdly enough, is held annually in May? Whatever its origins, this day sees international celebrations in almost 65 countries around the globe, including Boston, New York, London, and Auckland.
International Sweater Vestival timeline
The Oxford English Dictionary lists 'sweater' for the very first time, and it is believed that these long-sleeved clothes are made to encourage sweating and weight loss in sportspersons.
The sweater becomes a sweater vest, after Michigan football players cut the arms off their uniforms, creating the silhouette that football coaches have worn ever since.
Various members of South Korean boy band BTS — Taehyung, Jimin — wear sweater vests, sparking a furor among fans.
Supermodel Bella Hadid and pop singer Harry Styles wear sweater vests on two separate occasions — Hadid, while in Paris; Styles, while in Manhattan — and their choice of clothing gains massive attention from fans.
International Sweater Vestival FAQs
Are sweater vests in style 2021?
Ever since sweater vests became majorly fashionable again in 2020, multiple brands have designed iterations of this classic garment, staying on trend for 2021.
What do you call sweater vests?
This knitwear item is called a ‘sweater vest’ in the U.S. It is known as a ‘tank top’ or a ‘sleeveless sweater’ in the U.K.
Did they wear sweater vests in the '70s?
Sweater vests were very popular in the 1900s, and the 1970s was called (unofficially) the Decade of the Vest.
How To Celebrate International Sweater Vestival
Rock a sweater vest
There's plenty of ways to wear the sweater vest and look good in it. Take inspiration from the internet or your favorite celebrity, and start a trend among your friends.
Donate sweater vests
Part of the fun of celebrating a day is the company with which you celebrate it. Buy a sweater vest for a friend and ask them to celebrate this day with you. Or dig into your closet and upcycle dad's old sweater vests for you and your loved ones.
Create your own 'vestival'
Get all the sweater vest-heads together for a fun party. Create your own runway looks to rival Prada's Spring/Summer shows. Encourage more people to join next time, by posting some fun pictures online.
5 On-Screen Characters Rocking The Sweater Vest
'Dirty' Harry Callahan from “Dirty Harry”
Clint Eastwood rocks multiple sweater vests in one of his most iconic roles.
Chandler Bing from “FRIENDS”
He wore so many vests across nine seasons of this show. Some worked, some didn't, but they all go with his character like peanut butter with jelly.
Mindy Lahiri from “The Mindy Project”
For a non-traditional way to wear the sweater vest, look to Mindy's vest with a collared polka-dot shirt combo.
Aldo Raine from “Inglourious Basterds”
Brad Pitt wore a wool sweater vest in this war film, showing us that Hollywood, too, is taking an interest in this garment.
“Gossip Girl” cast (original and reboot)
Chuck Bass rocks one in the original show, and Audrey Lynd gives the classic a twist, wearing an oversized striped sweater vest to school.
Why We Love International Sweater Vestival
The sweater vest is diverse
It is perfect for the changing weather. It can keep us warm and can be used in the summer, too!
We can have some sartorial fun
Mix and match, play around, accessorize. There are so many ways to wear a sweater vest and look cool in it.
'Tis the season
This quirky holiday is perfect for December and winter.
International Sweater Vestival dates