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An Unsleeved History Of the Pull Over

By 22nd March 2022April 1st, 2022No Comments

The sweater vest, tank top, tabard, or sleeveless pullover has a chequered past in fashion history, it’s come a long way from the chest warming staple of your math teacher.

But you don’t need the permission of us or Harry Styles to keep your core warm, the pullover tank has always been cool. This item of clothing is a core part of layering and layering is never not fashionable. 

Designed with function in mind the sweater vest has its origins in athletic wear.  The Oxford English Dictionary lists the first use of “sweater” in 1882, in reference to the sleeve-having woollens used by rowers to encourage profuse sweating, and consequently, weight loss. By the turn of the century, the sweater, though still considered sportsman’s garb, had lost its perspiratory function and become a more standard jacket substitute. It seems to be at this point, or shortly thereafter, that the idea was first had to lop off the sleeves

The sweater vest was cemented as a staple of men’s fashion in the early 1930’s after being worn by US President Woodrow Wilson and then Herbert Hoover. In every decade after, the sweater vest found its man, for better or worse.

The sweater vest has asserted itself as a versatile piece of clothing, it’s sporty, preppy, but also workwear or smart casual.

In this excerpt from Slate magazine, they look into the way that the sweater vest has been used by costume designers as a signifier of different kinds of character: “On Chandler Bing, the vest informs us that we’re looking at a lovable loser; on Ferris Bueller, it reads as retro with a touch of punk; on Dirty Harry, the vest says rogue; on Steve Urkel it says nerd; worn with short sleeves and bulging biceps, the vest helps make Brad Pitt into a tough guy; the argyle version worn with Dockers tells us that Michael Bluth is a total square.”

The 1970’s fearlessly embraced the badly patterned, far-out sweaters vests of the era. The 1980’s weren’t ready to say goodbye with Princess Diana keeping the Sweater Vest in the forefront of the fashion zeitgeist.

You might think the sweater vest disappeared from fashion’s radar, but the truth is the well dressed have been wearing it with class and stealth forever and we just didn’t notice.
Prior to the Fall 2020 runway shows, which was dominated by the sweater vests, the trend gained massive attention when supermodel Bella Hadid and pop singer/actor/poet/most handsome man alive Harry Styles donned them 2019.  The Sweater Vest is back and the 76.6k on Instagram tagged #sweatervest proves it.

The Courage Pull Over

Our very first pattern the Courage is a twist on the classic Pull Over, made from woven fabric rather than being knitwear. We certainly aren’t the first to think of this but we still think our rendition is very special.  With two useful pockets and a slightly longer back, the courage is a wonderful layering piece that will add instant style to your outfit.

Here are a few ways to style it

Over a Dress
This look is a Sarah Peel favourite – a plain coloured but interestingly textured Courage over a check dress.

Over an oversized shirt
Layering 101 – mix oversized with fitted pieces to create a relaxed look.

Great with Big Sleeves
Play with expectations of Masculine vs Feminine by wearing the pullover over the top of something pouffe sleeved or lacy. The juxtoposition of the two will create a stylish silhouette.

Oxford Chic with a fitted shirt and a smart trouser

Dress Down
Over a plain white T-shirt with Jeans for a look inspired by Americana.

It’s true, the pullover has had some strange associations, which include athletic, preppy, grandads, professorial, and presidential but the pullover is having a true moment and we hope for the sake of our warm middles it doesn’t go away.

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