Mount up boys: we’re reclaiming the fleece vest, a fall staple that’s fallen on hard times, from the grubby hands (torsos?) of finance bros and tech founders. And we’re doing it with the help of a new crop of sleeveless fleeces. Some read more “weekend in the sticks” than “rise and grind,” while others bring big patterns that let you show out on a weekend stroll around town.
There’s no denying the fleece vest’s All-Star status as one of menswear’s great autumnal layering pieces. It’s hard enough to dress for the day when mornings are crisp, afternoons can still get balmy, and sundown leaves you regretting your decision to tell the restaurant host that outside seating is fine. That’s to say nothing of the fleece vest’s year-round utility—it’s always happy to add some fuzzy insulation to any fit that needs a little extra warmth.
Our battle to reclaim the fleece vest comes with only one rule of warfare: make sure your fit could never pass a Fortune 500 dress code. Pull your vest over a striped button down or even a clean white tee. Pairing it with freshly pressed slacks will get you dishonorably discharged, but everything else is fair game—giant chinos, beat-to-death jeans, sweatpants. (Throwback sneakers or mountain-ready boots are no-brainers.) And no matter how much you love it, never tell anyone about your fleece vest’s skyrocketing ROI.
5 Fleece Vests to Pull On Immediately
The Mondrian-Approved Pick
Arket pairs its Swedish minimalism—two low-key hand warmer pockets, no extra zippers—with eye-popping colors that look equally good when the vest is on its own or under a topcoat, once the weather turns.
The Classic Pick
The Platonic ideal of the fleece vest can be worn forever. Instead of tossing it on with a sad dress shirt and slacks, save it for weekends when you wear it with chunky knits, elastic-waist trousers, and your most mountain-ready hiking boots. And please, never embroider your company’s name on the chest.
The New Classic Pick
As Todd Snyder knows, green and tan remains the reigning champ as the fall’s most infallible color combo.
The NBA Tunnel-Ready Pick
The most 2023 vest on this list is extra boxy and cropped, making it the best match for those baggy, high-waisted trousers we keep talking about.
The Coffee Run Pick
The perfect vest to wear over a hoodie on a crisp fall morning, piping hot cup of joe in hand to match.
Plus 10 More Fleece Vests to Fluff-Up Your Torso
Madewell is back, baby (with the help of a GQ alum) and this pullover fleece vest is a standout in the latest collection—particularly in a powder pink that’s easier to mix into a fit than you’d expect.
This fleece vest from the brand at the epicenter of the prep revival evokes the quaint English countryside weekends of your The Crown-binging dreams. Drive home the theme with a proper oxford shirt and a waxed jacket outer layer if the weather calls for it.
This reversible vest brings big, bold camo when you want to stand out, and a mossy green alternate side for when you wanna play your big fits closer to the chest.
Enough pockets to keep your hands warm while you stash your phone and your phone charger.
Bring the great outdoors down to the bodega thanks to some stellar embroidery.
In signature Visvim fashion, this vest is made from grade-A materials—in this case, a wool fleece instead of the usual polyester—that’ll ensure it’s still a centerpiece of your fall rotation a decade from now.
Even the most conservative business-casual get-ups will look more rugged in this jacquard-print vest from Ralph’s ranch-inspired sublabel, RRL.
Go teddy-bear mode and prepare to be hugged by this all season long.
Pine: it’s not just a fresh scent, it’s a fresh color for your fall fits.