The Rant: Men Of Britain, Put Your Vests Away

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Men of Britain, conceal your arms. I mean it. It may be over 18 degrees, and you may have got a nice picture of a rhododendron or your dead dog tattooed on your brachialis over the weekend, but it does not give you free reign to don a vest and start waving those hams all over the shop. Put on a T-shirt, or even better, a shirt, and burn that vest in the bad taste incinerator along with those too-tight pastel shorts, plastic-soled winkle picker shoes and dinner plate buckle belts.

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Don’t get me wrong. I get it, it’s hot. I work in an office where the air conditioning rarely manages to get any lower than two degrees above the outside air temperature. If I could wear a vest to work without fear of being lynched by Esquire security, I most probably would. The issue I have is the way in which said garments are being worn. No longer the preserve of Miami beach muscle Maries, over the past few summers the vest has trickled into the wardrobes of men like you and me, and it’s got to stop – no one wants a face full of your underarm hair on the tube.

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Like many of my fellow Londoners, this summer I attended Stratford’s Wireless festival in the post-apocalyptic environs of the former Olympic park. Perhaps it was the multiple stabbings that took place on the final day of the festival; perhaps it was the AstroTurf the organisers had cleverly used in place of real grass (you’d never have known!) or perhaps it was Jay Z’s attempt to dress like he was in Rizzle Kicks (though that’s probably being a bit unkind to poor Jordan and Harley) but something was amiss.

And then it clicked. Everywhere I looked, around every puddle of vomit I dodged, behind every rapidly emptying beer van I turned, I would invariably find - if not a gang of - then at least one gargantuan, Tuborg-swilling man child draped in a ‘fun’, vest, showing off more side boob than Rihanna and more fake tan than George Hamilton made it through in the eighties.

Invariably these vests – most often cleverly customised so that the stringy bits at the top were on the verge of snapping (side boob exposure isn’t enough for these men, it turns out) would feature some clashing pattern. Multi-coloured stars were particularly popular. Which, in combination with the commonplace snap-back cap – which must always appear on the brink of falling off the back of the head - and a pair of novelty glasses (preferably lemon yellow) had the effect of making these colossuses resemble steroid-pumped, sun-seared Timmy Mallets.

This is the summer version of the onesie my friends. As idle as lazy dressing comes, a half-falling-off vest is less an item of clothing, more the outerwear equivalent of that pair of Superman boxers you got for Christmas in 2006 and still wear because they’re “comfortable”.

If you must insist on wearing a vest then do the rest of us a favour and make like Marlon Brando in A Street Car Named Desire. Opt for something white and fitted (Sunspel do a perfectly passable pique version), and then, unlike Brando’s character in Street Car, steer clear of strong lager. Oh and try your best to stay in the house.

What do you think?

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