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Best of the Vest: A Salute to the Sleeveless Wonders of the 70s

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What’s this man holding?  It looks like a lighter – I presume to set himself on fire, because that’s really the logical thing to do when forced to wear sweater vests like these.

But he was not alone. The 1970s truly was the Decade of the Vest, a veritable vestival of anti-sleeve attire.  So, let’s explore the vest-fest that was the 70s. Enjoy.

102 A striking bit of vest-related irony: what was once a 1970s Yuppie uniform is now hipster-wear.


194_vintage needlework (17)

The shrink-top yarn vest was one of the more interesting varieties of 70s vest species.  And “interesting” was written in italics because I’m saying it in the most sarcastic manner imaginable.


305_Craft n Things magazine

The problem with 70s vests was that vest-makers were always compelled to have some sort of design on the front.  It wasn’t enough just to have black vest – you had to have a black vest with massive strawberries on the front.


040_vintage needlework (41)

The vestification of the 70s had its origins in the late 60s.  “Turn on, tune in, wear vests”… isn’t that how Leary’s mantra went?


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I’m not sure about the top two ladies, but the two women at the bottom are clearly about to make out.

man in vest


You can stop searching.  The coolest human being who has ever lived has been found.



It takes a special kind of guy to feel comfortable in a hot pink sweater vest.


vests of all kinds

The many variations of the versatile vest.


September 1972

Sometimes, the vest is the least of your worries.  True, this man is wearing a sweater vest bedazzled with little pom-poms…. but his flared houndstooth pants are the center of attention.


015_The Easy Art of Ripple Crochet (1973)

I’m actually okay with his ripple-crochet vest… it’s the ripple-crochet tie where I draw the line.  We all have standards.


024_Vest of Shame

You can cry about it, or you can wear your Vest of Shame with dignity.  This man chose dignity…. he’ll cry later.


045_1970's crochet fashion

In the Great Vesting of the 1970s, no children were spared.  It was a dark time.

052_1970's crochet fashion

Yes, that’s a young Cybill Shepherd.  And, yes, that’s a man feeling rather foolish.



Tabards – Vest’s mysterious cousin.  Appropriate attire if you happen to be a squire living in the Middle Ages; not so much today.

More tabard, please…


Fact: unless you wear absolutely nothing underneath, it is humanly impossible to make a tabard look sexy.


This from a previous post: If you enjoyed exploring the vest, you’ll love the shawl.

vest trio

This is an interesting turn of events.  The girl and the guy on the right are clearly a couple with matching vests…. yet she clearly has a thing for the man in brown ‘n’ mustard.

And what would a post on 70s vests be without an image of the infamous Country Church album cover…


If only Country Church were alone in their vestments; alas, other groups also went with the ill-fitting vest costumes…


Even more sad than the matching vests is that boy’s moustache.  Let’s all bow our heads in a moment of silence for the tragedy that is on that poor boy’s upper lip.

And before we go, I should mention that the vest was by no means dead in the 1980s.  Truly I say unto you, the Reign of the Vest had only just begun…

36_vintage needlework


  • SkeptiGal

    Ooh so much to talk about…

    -First pic guy is holding a pipe – hmmm, what’s in it?
    -Houndstooth guy has a bare bottomed tot about to get swallowed up by his huge elephant bell…
    -Raspberry pink vest… Take a look at Mike Pinder from Moody Blues at Isle of Wight concert. I wonder if a fan knit it for him? See pic below.
    -Gypsy Shag dude with red, white, and blue loopy vest is really just a cat toy in disguise.

  • lowercasejae

    So the houndstooth pants are a travesty, yes, but are we not going to talk about the bare-ass baby in the whole foods section of the store with him?

    Also, it’s unsurprising that Cybill Shepherd actually makes that look work.

  • Tom Beiter

    The flared houndstooth pants aren’t the center of the attention — the pantless kid is. WHY IS HE PANTSLESS?!

    • Spandex_Ballet

      Donald Duck started that fad back in the day.

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  • Cee

    Ahhh, turtlenecks, flares and V-neck sweater vests… My winter ” uniform ” for much of my 1970s youth.