In a recent episode of the US sitcom I’m Sorry, Andrea Savage is shocked to see her husband casually stroll into the kitchen wearing a vest. For British viewers, the shock is compounded by the fact she calls it a “tank top”. “Oh Mr Tank Top is here! The beach culture is very seductive,” she says, dripping with sarcasm. “Sun’s out, guns out, right?” before making a gag about drinking Mountain Dew and quoting from the collected works of Limp Bizkit.
Andrea was correct to mock it – vests have a bad reputation for a reason. The last time I wore one, I was seven years old. Today, I realise the sad fact that they’re not for me. They are sartorial assault courses full of literal booby traps: I’m talking moobs here. Also: ugly tummy bumps, meandering chest hairs, things that should be made visible only to medical professionals or squinted at by Turner prize judges.
Or maybe that’s just me. The “singlet” vest (think Marlon Brando screaming “Stellaaa!” in A Streetcar Named Desire) has been big for a while, sported by Frank Ocean, Justin Theroux and Kit Harington, among others. They work as a faux-modest humblebrag for some to show off their henchness. Sadly, for a dad bod like myself, this is not the case.
Although the phrase “Miami Vice” was used during this shoot, the truth is, I did not feel very comfortable. Wearing the vest early noughties style under a suit, I think I looked more “Robbie Williams past his peak”. My movements became limited, and I was reluctant to exhale for the whole photoshoot (OK, OK, I’m lying: I exhaled once and the bottom button of the jacket popped open). Perhaps I should have worn a bigger one, but the vest felt restricting. I’m happy to leave the tank top to the beach.
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