Entertainment Style The puffer vest dilemma: comfortable and cool or ridiculous?
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The puffer vest dilemma: comfortable and cool or ridiculous?

Rapper Drake is a big fan of the sleeveless puffer vest. Photo: Getty
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I’ve never understood the sleeveless vest. I’d look at women in the park, in sleeveless puffer vests, or those hideous thermal alternatives and think: “But aren’t your arms cold? What’s wrong with sleeves?”

Maybe there’s something to be said for just keeping your core warm, but it’s perplexing. Are you cold or not? It’s like wearing a wool overcoat and thongs, or a woollen scarf with a t-shirt.

Comfort and climate aside, there is one irrefutable fact that a sleeveless vest — if you do not have the long thighs of a fitness model, you are no longer under 40, or Drake — will instantly age you about 20 years.

Put a sleeveless vest back with a three quarter cropped pant and trainers, and bingo, it’s Seniors’ Card time — whether you’re eligible or not.

The sleeveless vest is, of course, a casual-wear staple, especially in country areas. But it was not so much of an urban statement until recently.

It’s very Aussie, to only half-commit to the idea of it ever being really cold: “My, it’s rather chilly this morning, let me pop on my sleeveless vest.”

Putting on a puffy full-blown North Face-style parka sends a message that summer is over and we hate to admit that. But Japanese fashion retailer Uniqlo, famous for their lightweight, low-cost puffer jackets has changed all that in Australia.

The sleeveless padded vest is now being worn by men over a business suit, a common sight in Europe and now very noticeable in both Sydney and Melbourne.

In fact, Uniqlo has tapped into an area that we were probably lacking, where it’s crisp enough to need extra warmth, but not cold enough to wear an overcoat over your suit.

It’s a rather natty idea, but I don’t think I’ll be able to see it and not recall those recent of images a preppy Jared Kushner wearing a flak jacket over his navy blazer with Ray Bans and looking like a complete tosser.

puffer vest streetstyleAthleisure addicts will no doubt disagree with my qualms about sleeveless vests, but I am going to stick with my belief that the thermal ones with the plastic zips are worse than the nylon puffy type.

However, if you are a PE teacher or a camp counsellor then you get a free pass.

Puffy nylon even took a turn on the red carpet at this week’s high fashion Met Ball, when the very chic Solange Knowles wore a black oversized parka/coat and looked rather fab.

I can’t imagine how hot she was underneath, and I would suggest it was imperative that she stayed well away from any lit candelabra. I love a giant North Face parka as much as the next person, and when you are walking the bitter streets of New York or Paris, you do tend to thank the fashion gods that they were ever invented.

But a sleeveless vest? It’s like wearing board shorts with shoes and socks. They are functional, no doubt, but it takes a special person to give them the right edge, say a really handsome yachtie or maybe a crack soldier.

Maybe that’s why it looked so jarring on Jared. You have to walk the talk. Or at least hand out oranges at half time.

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