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Oversized Vest Top , its history and the myriad vest top style


The vest top is arguably the most useful item in your wardrobe. A true staple, it is seasonless and suitable for all occasions, with even the most simple vest top able to be worn to the slickest event. When you get the style right and invest in high quality, natural materials, the vest top is flattering, Kravitz cool (of the Lenny or Zoe kind), understated and oh so god damn sexy.

The history of the white cotton vest

A vest, tank or singlet are different names for the sleeveless shirt. Tank tends to be the American version whilst the Brits use Vests and the Australians Singlet.  The name tank top originally came about because it resembled the tank swimming costumes or one-piece bathing suits used in the 1920s in swimming pools or “tanks”.

Vests – after all, we’re in the UK – were traditionally used as undershirts for men and were the perfect way to keep warm during colder months, trapping insulating air between the body and clothing. From the 1930s they were often worn by the slightly sinister guy in films. Think Streetcar Named Desire where Brando wears a vest top as the tough guy, Stanley Kowalski. It was also known as the Wife Beater shirt which has rather grim origins involving a story about a man from Detroit beating his wife to death in 1947. 

Simultaneously they also became popular to wear for many different sports.

In the 1970s vests or tank tops became a common look for casual wear for both men and women in the warmer months – a look adopted mainly by the liberals and hippies. By the 90s they had become a mainstream item of clothing.

Since then have had various peaks in fashion but for BOUJO HAKE they are a true staple and will forever remain a classic.

The different styles of vests

There are myriad styles of vests, each with their own function. BOUJO HAKE are, as Polly Vernon, Grazia Magazine, points out, the “Queens of the white vest” and their thoughtful selection illustrates this.

First there is the Singlet. A classic, traditional cut with a loose silhouette and flatlock stitching, the Singlet works well under jumpers in Winter and perfect with nearly everything in the Summer months. The detail of the flatlock stitching also means that the vests last and, as time goes on, become softer and more desirable as only the best pieces do.

The Boy’s Singlet is another classic. It’s more fitted than the Singlet which means it’s great to wear under clothes as well and if worn as outerwear has a beautiful neat look. It’s has the same traditional cut as a boy’s vest – hence the name – and like all BOUJO HAKE vests is made from 100% certified Organic Cotton.

The Double-layered Mesh Vest is the special one. Reminiscent of the rude boy mesh vests worn in the 80s, this is definitely a luxe take on that uber cool style with French, triple-stitched seams, double layered material and hand finishing. Unlike most Mesh Vests on the market which are often made from synthetic materials, this Mesh Vest is made from 100% certified Organic Cotton Mesh. Minimal and understated, the texture of the material adds subtle interest to any outfit.

The Patty Tank is inspired by the 80s muscle tops. Boxy in shape, with raw edge hem and dropped arm holes, the Patty Tank has a rock vibe. It’s made from Organic Cotton and, like the other BOUJO HAKE vests, has flatlock seams ensuring that the vest lasts and gets better with age.

And finally, the Grandpa Vest - a real favourite. Inspired by a real Grandpa’s vest from the 1960s, this masculine style is, perhaps surprisingly, feminine. The gentle racerback and dropped armholes are flattering but it’s the cut at the front that is perfection. Everyone gets their knickers in a twist about cleavages and how much boob is appropriate to show and at what age, if ever. But we’d argue that the most overlooked and sexy anatomy of the female is the clavicle. Somehow it remains in tact at nearly every age and there is something incredibly alluring about showcasing it. The Grandpa Vest, by having the straps close to the neck really shows off the clavicle and the shoulders.

Oversized Vest top and Womens Oversized Vest Tops

For many women, as much as they’d like to, they can’t just buy men’s clothes and wear them. The sizing, even and often especially if you’re after oversized, isn’t quite right. What’s interesting is that, until now, a search for “oversized vests womens” would pull out the most twee images or baggy shapeless tops. Certainly nothing sexy or flattering. Women’s vest tops were often just not cool.

The BOUJO HAKE Oversized Grandpa Vest puts this idea to bed. This is a traditionally male shape that works so well on women (and actually men too, if they want to)

The Oversized Grandpa Vest is the same style as the Grandpa Vest but yes, like the name suggests, oversized. And somehow this highlights the sexiness of the vest with the armholes even more gaping showing some side boob. It’s a subtle kind of appeal where tight does not necessarily equate sexy. It’s about balancing proportions and knowing what suits you.

People often shy away from oversized clothes but there is nothing less elegant than a trussed sausage, which is what you can look like if you wear tight vests, and nothing more elegant than draping and hanging if the cut is right. It’s not about what is fashionable, which is inherently unfashionable, but rather about what works for you and oversized is often overlooked.

The Oversized Grandpa Vest can also be worn for nightwear in the Summer months and even to the beach as a throw on over your bikini.   

Perhaps the only style of vest that is missing from the BOUJO HAKE collection is the camisole-styled vest top with spaghetti straps that hugs your torso, worn so brilliantly by Sandra Bullock “A Time to Kill” in the 90s. This is also one of the few woman’s vests that works so well and you certainly don’t find better in the men’s section!

BOUJO HAKE offers free fittings of their vest tops as well as underwear, a collection service where you can click collect from Primrose Hill and advice on how to add interest to a simple tank top or let the simplicity speak for itself. It might not seem like it, but there is a skill in minimal, understated dressing with a lot of attention paid to proportions and details. BOUJO HAKE have the answers.