In case you haven’t noticed, celebs seem to be expressing a vested interest in vests as of late. Suddenly the garments are all the rage, giving a Huckleberry Finn makeover to dapper dudes like the Killers, Perry Farrell and Anthony Kiedis. And where rock stars go, the fashion market is never far behind: Department stores are stocking vests in bulk for the fall season.
At this summer’s Lollapalooza in Chicago (see “Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West And More Rock Out At Lollapalooza 2006″ ), festival founder Farrell rocked one every day, kicking the fest off with a sleek double-breasted ivory vest over a pink long-sleeve shirt with matching ivory slacks. The next day, the ex-Jane’s Addiction frontman wore a simple black vest over a white T-shirt with gray pants. On the final day, Farrell performed in a single-button denim vest with nothing underneath. He looked clean-cut yet rebellious and edgy, like a true rocker should.
Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Kiedis — a huge fashion buff who can be found in the front row at many a fashion show — rocked a pinstripe vest with freakish fingerless fluorescent gloves at the festival. When he tore off his vest toward the end of the concert, the crowd went wild.
Sometimes Kiedis likes to cover it up, like when he wore a gray vest on “TRL” in May over a gray button-down shirt with a tie of the same color. Or he’ll go for a more shocking look, like a black cashmere vest worn over a crisp white Oxford shirt and a bright red tie.
Also embracing the old-school trend are the Killers. For their upcoming album, Sam’s Town, the band did a photo shoot in front of a dingy trailer in the Las Vegas desert. (Click here to check out the Killers’ killer look. ) The vintage-looking black-and-white photo shows guitarist David Keuning wearing a black vest with nothing on underneath and bassist Mark Stoermer wearing an identical black vest over a shriveled button-down shirt.
The list of other rockers rocking the vest is growing considerably: Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Velvet Revolver’s Scott Weiland, the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne, the Raconteurs’ Brendan Benson and the cast of the reality show “Rock Star: Supernova.”
Afro-haired Wolfmother frontman Andrew Stockdale always wears a light silk-woven vest, but he usually plays it down with a pair of skinny black jeans and a ratty T-shirt underneath. He prefers the ’80s-style vest with the tie in the back (think Duckie in “Pretty in Pink”), while Kiedis and Farrell opt for a more couture cut. Also, the boys from Panic! at the Disco love to wear vests in paisley patterns.
Department stores and specialty boutiques are catching on and will be stocking vests in bulk for fall 2006. Urban Outfitters already carries vintage vests. And we can most likely expect some chic one-of-a-kind cuts from hip Parisian designers Viktor & Rolf, whose specialty line for H&M will hit stores in November.
“Christian Dior, Armani, Paul Smith — they are all coming out with the vest for fall,” said Steve Cardino, fashion director for the men’s department at Macy’s, which actually created its own line of vests for fall. “We forecasted [the vest] for our buyers because we saw a demand for it in the younger market. We placed orders, but a lot of the vendors decided not to cut them. We couldn’t find people who make them [at a lower cost]. So we had them made ourselves.”
Macy’s will sell vests in velvet, silk, cashmere and fine cotton (not to be confused with the preppy-boy vest, an entirely different look worn by rappers like Kanye West and Pharrell).
“It’s a great layering piece, and it’s a cleaner cut than the ’80s version,” said Cardino. “It’s about work-wear influence. If you just throw a vest over a thermal, you look hard at work. You have that vintage kind of look.”
Or you can take it a totally different way, said Cardino, and “opt for the vest over a graphic T with some skinny jeans and Converse sneakers,” like Stockdale wears it.
“Right now it’s an old silhouette that is brand-new for a whole new customer,” he said. “They’re going to become an even bigger deal when it gets closer to the holiday season.”
But the best place to find a vest is still your grandfather’s attic or a secondhand store. Then make it your own. Switch the buttons, add a graphic pattern like a skull or sew a patch of your favorite band’s logo on the back. All of a sudden you have a killer fashion piece.
“People are asking more and more for vests,” said Gigi Elmes, owner of Manhattan thrift shop Atomic Passion. “All of a sudden, it just took off. We had vests in the store for years that no one would even look at, and now, bam.”
Elmes said customers are buying everything from Victorian-looking vests to ’80s-style vests to “Annie Hall”-inspired vests.
It’s not only men who are buying — women are embracing the vest, too. For her appearance on “Good Morning America” ’s Summer Concert Series, Carrie Underwood paired an off-the-shoulder white peasant shirt with a black vest tied tightly with a big gray belt. It was an edgy look for the singer, who usually prefers slinky, silk floral dresses.
Anne Hathaway of “The Devil Wears Prada” recently visited “TRL” wearing a vest with gold-button detail over a white button-down shirt, which looked effortless and cool. (Get a glimpse of her spiffy look right here. ) Former “Sex and the City” star Kristin Davis wears a denim vest in a new ad campaign for Kikit clothing. And you can always rely on British fashion icons like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller to sport vests, pairing them with scarves or handkerchiefs and always wearing them with no fear, exactly the way they should be worn.