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Vests and Why Popular Male Musicians Insist on Wearing Them

By Kat George

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Mick via lapetitemarmoset.blogspot.com.

My mom once said she didn’t understand why male musicians insisted on wearing leather pants because the only man to ever walk this earth and look good in them was a young Axl Rose. To some extent, it’s true—I once saw an old Axl Rose in an elevator and even he couldn’t pull of leather pants—so it stands to reason that certain items of clothing belong to certain eras/personalities. Which brings me to the humble vest and the popular male musician’s insistence on wearing one.

I’m not talking about a dapper Mad Men-style vest as part of a three-piece suit (where it belongs), but rather, the vest as a standalone item of clothing existing entirely without context. For instance, the vest over a shirt with jeans. Or the vest over a bare chest. You know, all the iterations of a dumb way to wear a vest. I would argue that the only man ever to look good wearing a vest dissociated from the rest of an outfit would be Mick Jagger. But then Mick Jagger made a lot of ridiculous things look really sexy, like drug addiction, having a pretty ugly face, and strutting about like a chicken. Mick Jagger is to wrongful vest wearing as Alan Rickman is to Snape. 


Johnny. WHY?

And yet, the vest endures as a staple of popular musician’s masculine style. I assume, in part, because everyone still wants to have moves like Jagger. Otherwise everyone just wants to look very, very silly, because YOLO, I guess? Contemporary proponent of the vest, Johnny Depp—while not primarily known as a musician he certainly has all the aesthetic trappings and wannabe swagger of one—doesn't even look good in a vest. 


Upper Class Street Urchin via fashionablyfly.blogspot.com versus Fully Sick Playa In The Club Vest via this blog.

But when it comes to the pop music crowd, the greatest offender is Justin Timberlake. I don’t begrudge JT his whole “Suit & Tie” schtick, because damn son, that is some sexy suit-vest wearing. However, that’s a contextual vest. Aside from this new-era, throwback-suave JT, Justin has been known to prefer both the Upper Class Street Urchin Vest, and the Fully Sick Playa In Da Club Vest, both of which are entirely offensive to eyes. Justin also seems to have a penchant for stupid hats, but I suppose that’s a whole other article. 


Ironically, this shot was taken from a site called asuitthatfits.com

JT is thus single-handedly responsible for bastardizing modern vest wearing and the proof is all in One Direction. Until I saw the photo above, I was defending the vest as justifiable when part of a suit (I mean, Justin Timberlake, mother may I?), but somehow One Direction’s take on what should be a fairly sexy look makes my lady bits shrivel into themselves, shrieking like a lobster thrown into boiling water. It’s like these guys said to their stylist, “We want to look like the geezer Justin Timberlake” and the stylist flew into a frenzy screaming at 1D's assistant, “Vests! Vests, dammit! We need VESTS!” (And ill-fitting suit jackets. When will  learn a suit is ALL in the fit, people!)


Pics via whattheywear.tumblr.com and menstylepower.com (LOL).

The vest has also been a strong look for both Usher and Pharrell, which defies all reason because both are way too bad-ass to dress so stupidly. I’m trying to rationalize these poor fashion choices by two of the sexiest/most talented men on the planet (please, I’ll fight you on that statement: COME AT ME BRO), and all I can logically come up with is that there is too much man to be contained in a simple shirt. Here, the vest is acting more as a necessary and practical restraining device, rather than a fashion choice. Sort of like a straightjacket on Hannibal Lecter, except here the vest prevents not cannibalism, but wanton sex, uteruses wilting in their wake, and everyone in the vicinity being gassed by a spray of pure testosterone.


Pic via GQ vest via Saint Laurent Paris.

If you’re still not convinced that this ongoing obsession with the vest is an infectious blight of our male musicians and our eyes, just look at this photo of Miguel from earlier this month. This basically makes my entire point for me. Thanks Miguel!

What is a vest, anyway? It’s essentially just a t-shirt with the sleeves cut off and the front split open. It’s as obnoxious as it is irrelevant, like the scarf/t-shirt combo. A vest is just a bit of superfluous material one throws over a pre-existing outfit to, I dunno, make it look more kicky? Jushe up last season’s look? Slay women with that excess fabric? Hold in that encroaching paunch? (A vest whose buttons are buckling due to a belly situation is utterly unforgiveable. A vest is not a corset!) Contrary to what these dudes probably believe, if you want to suck all the babe out of a man, put him in an vest. Case in point: John Mayer. One minute he’s a babe, the next minute you put a vest on him and...

Pics via last.fm and musicnews.buzznet.com.

I would like to posit the following question to the male musicians who seem hell bent on championing the vest into the future and beyond: Do you really want to willingly make the same fashion statement as Mumford & Sons?



You can talk to Kat about vests and vaginas on Twitter — @kat_george.

Style Stage is an ongoing partnership between Noisey & Garnier Fructis celebrating music, hair, and style.

 

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