Monday, April 21, 2008

Taking a vested interest in sweaters

As we spring forward into warmer weather in North America, the cottons, linens, silks and lightweight wools take center stage. Comfort is king, and style should follow accordingly.

When you assemble your comfortable outfit for work, bring the suit jacket or blazer for good measure. Should you decide to leave the jacket home, take a windbreaker for the evening cooldown.

However, during the day, when workplace air conditioning makes for a cooler environment than what you prepared for outside, a windbreaker becomes the practical solution but a less stylish one in the office. Keeping the suit jacket on ensures a professional appearance, but it is subject to wrinkling when sitting (especially if the jacket is cotton and/or linen) or it can become too hot to wear over time (silk and/or wool).

So ... what's a happy medium to wear when you find yourself a little too chilled out at your desk?

A cotton sweater vest can improve your comfort zone. It adds a layer of warmth as it breathes with you. I recommend conservative colors to start. Cable patterns, for example, add a level of subtle elegance to the overall look.

In other words, you'll look smart. Not necessarily bookish, mind you, but with the right color and the right fit, a sleeveless cotton vest is a versatile item in your sartorial repertoire. For instance, with a solid-color, cable-patterned sweater vest and a contrasting golf shirt, you'd be country club material.

Over the years, I have picked up cotton vests from a variety of retailers. The most traditional looking has to be from Brooks Brothers, without fail. Same goes for Joseph A. Bank. The Bobby Jones line also has a selection of eye-catching sweaters. Not least, the Polo Golf lines offer traditional and contemporary looks.

Other designers that I've come across that offer sweater vests include Nautica, Orvis, and Banana Republic.

And so, if you wish to maintain your cool look while minimizing the risk of catching cold indoors, a cotton sweater vest will garner significant Style Points in your favor.

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