A vintage man without a vest is incomplete. The pre-1900 and early 20th century embraced the collared vest with a round shawl collar or notch lapel collar. Patterns were in fashion with stripes, plaids, and checks making the biggest impact. By the 1930s, lapels were disappearing and the classic V neck 6 button vest appeared in single and double-breasted styles. Solid colors and thin pinstripes matched suits or not. The contrasting vest in double-breasted style was very dapper back then as it is today.
Men’s vintage pullover sweater vests were worn in winter and spring for sporting clothes (like golf or tennis) or as casual fashions for trend-setting young men. Thick white or ivory cable knit vests are the icon of preppy style. Argyle sweater vests were also an ivy league style, especially with golfers. The wintry men’s Fair Isle sweater vest in pullover or zip up style was a classic in the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. Because of the high waisted pants, men’s sweater vests were much shorter than they are today (you can shorten a modern vest with a little sewing). Learn more about the history of men’s sweater vests.