As the leaves begin to fall and your “usual” changes to a PSL, offices around America begin to look like LL Bean catalogs as men break out their favorite tech vest for the first time. This piece of not quite outerwear is one part utility and one part laziness. The cutoff arms allow for easy keyboard access, warmth in poorly climate controlled offices and flexibility for extracurricular activities such as fist pumping at happy hour or mock golf swings. The ROI of a good tech vest can be measured in dry cleaning cost savings as these versatile articles can cover slightly soiled and/or wrinkled shirts, and will hide the fact that you wore your favorite gingham twice this week.
Outside of the office, these pseudo-jackets are great for tailgating. You have the range to show off your intramural QB arm and can grill with a warm core without fear of grease splattering your hoodie’s sleeves. They are the perfect balance of douchiness and class for all of your WASPy Fall, Thanksgiving and Christmas photo ops. Paired with Bonobos and your favorite boat shoes, these versatile epidermis’ are the epitome of comfort and class for holiday dinners . If you’re not in college any more and don’t want to look like that tool Zuckerburg (or a gang member) ditch the hoodie. Like a nice watch or a good piece of arm candy, a tech vest can class up any outfit.
Now that you’ve freed yourself from the clutches of sleeves, you need to pick out the perfect vest. You’ll have a tougher choice on your hands than choosing between warm apple crisp or pumpkin bread at the pumpkin patch your girlfriend will inevitably make you go to. Your options are fleece, sweater or puff material. Unless you’re a 90s rapper, don’t even think about wearing puff as anything other than outerwear. Well fitting fleece and sweater material vests can be worn all day without creating incessant wind breaker swooshing sounds and looking like you’re wearing a life vest. And unless you are an Inuit or sending a statement to PETA, leave the fur or faux fur vests to the ladies.
The classic standbys are the Patagonia and vineyard vines, in navy or grey. These timeless pieces can bring you together on Monday morning no matter how rough your weekend was. If you aren’t the showboat type, and don’t care about the vineyard vines whale showing your colleagues that you spent $100 on a vest that cost sweatshop workers $15 to make, go the basic route. A nondescript Banana Republic or J. Crew vest will scream sophistication and highlight your sense of humility. Going with the illegally imported Chinese knockoff or department store brand is a risky proposition. Being caught with a fake Southern Tide vest can be your one way ticket to excommunication in bro purgatory.
In a nod to the vest wearing pioneers who pushed the HR envelope to assure that analyst classes of the future could go sleeve free, you can go the LL Bean route. But be beware of the social repercussions of wearing a “soccer-dad,” “two-hands-gripped-around-a-hot-chocolate” Eddie Bauer vest at too young of an age.
Although it might help you get some coveted “Team Player” points on your annual review, be careful when wearing company branded vests. Wearing company branded clothing while engaging in your normal outside of work antics can get you fired quicker than being remotely associated with domestic abuse in the NFL.
Of course if you aren’t in Entry Revel’s socioeconomic wheelhouse, make six figures and drive a different car than you did in high school you can go the European, goose down, Mt. Everest-tested route.
Whatever you do, just remember that being the best dressed man in your office is not only a blessing but a curse too. Like being the best analyst on your team who is trusted with all the high priority projects, you are expected to produce GQ fashion on a Barstool budget. So, ride right in the meaty part of that bell curve in your performance reviews and your fashion sense. Never finish a project too quickly or too accurately and make sure you rock the basic white guy Fall staple with reckless abandon.
And if you work at Abercrombie and/or are a Chippendales dancer, by all means, rock this …