Sweater vest

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Man wearing a striped sweater vest (1974)
Rick Santorum[1] wearing a sweater vest (2012)

A sweater vest (known as a tank top, sleeveless sweater, slipover or sleeveless pullover in the UK) is an item of knitwear that is similar to a sweater, but without sleeves, usually with a low-cut neckline. They were popular in the 20th century, particularly in the 1970s in the UK, and are again growing in popularity in this century.[2]


Cable knit sweater vest typically worn by cricketers

One of the most common patterns on a sweater vest is argyle. Many newer designs feature a return to popular patterns from eras past. Other variations include designs of a more modern nature, including stripes. Some of the most common of neckline shapes are the V-neck[3] and the crew neck, which is similar to a common T-shirt neckline.

Other styles include button front as favored by the likes of the comedian Bill Murray.

As athletic wear[edit]

A sweater vest, white flannel pants and collared shirt are standard wear for professional cricketers in the UK, Australia, India and South Africa. The cable knit vests often have a contrasting red, blue or green stripe around the neckline. Before shorts and polo shirts were introduced in the 1930s, tennis players wore a similar outfit.

In the early 20th century, golfers often wore an argyle pattern tank top with their brogues, flat caps and plus fours. This was a more comfortable and practical alternative to the tweed cloth Norfolk jacket previously worn for outdoor pursuits, as being sleeveless they did not impair free movement of the arms in swinging a golf club.


Sweater vests are popular among sports fans, particularly those who play golf.[4] Those with sports team logos, especially NFL and college teams, are also popular and are frequently worn by American football coaches, most notably Jim Tressel, who has been given the nickname "The Sweater Vest" by fans[5] despite the garment's origins at rival Michigan.[6]


  1. ^ Lomrantz Lester, Tracey (2012-01-04). "Rick Santorum's Sweater Vest Has Its Own Twitter (& Just May Help His Bid For The White House)". Glamour. Archived from the original on 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  2. ^ Strawn, Susan M. (2011). Knitting America: A Glorious Heritage from Warm Socks to High Art. St. Paul, MN: Voyageur Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-7603-4011-0.
  3. ^ Carr, Toni (2008). Knockdown Knits: 30 Projects from the Roller Derby Track. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. p. 54. ISBN 9780470388655.
  4. ^ Uhlenbrock, Doug (May 1999). "Dressed to the Tee". Cincinnati Magazine. Vol. 32, no. 8. p. 160. ISSN 0746-8210. Archived from the original on 2023-12-14. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  5. ^ Weber, Jim (2010-10-14). "Behind the sweater vest: Jim Tressel, mundane or mod?". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  6. ^ Felsenthal, Julia (2012-02-10). "Go Vest, Young Man". Slate Magazine. Archived from the original on 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2017-02-27.