#51 The Backwards Tank

The tentative signs of spring are here: longer days filled with warm sunlight; melting lawns revealing muddy grass and petrifying dog poop. It makes me want to put away all my sweaters, heavy with winter gloom, and gallop towards the sun in gauzy, lightweight attire. Of course, I know better than to be duped by Fool’s Spring. It’s only March. 

However, this sleeveless knit vest seems like a good intermediate step towards shedding those winter layers. I’ve had this piece for about a year. In fact, it was my last pre-pandemic purchase back in March 2020, just days before widespread lockdowns were enacted. I remember going about my life with ease in those early weeks of March; there were a few travel-related cases in Canada at the time and I never anticipated the ordeal to be anything more significant than SARS or the swine flu. Normalcy bias can really get you.

Wool Vest

Purchased from: Salvation Army, 2020

Cost: $3.65

Material: 100% Wool

Wears counted: 13

I bought this top on a routine trip to my local secondhand store – I’d been getting better at buying less, but I couldn’t always resist the temptation to browse and the curiosity of what I might find. While looking through the racks I found this ribbed wool vest from DKNY Essentials, an item I would guess to be from the 90’s or early 2000’s. The piece had an elegant simplicity and looked well-made. It was the only item I picked up that day and the last time I would step inside a clothing store for many months. I had just gotten this beautiful new piece, but soon I would have nowhere to wear it to. 

This vest is made of pure laine wool and while it’s marked size large, it fits well on me. The material is soft, stretchy, and not at all itchy. It’s extremely comfortable to wear – kind a more practical take on the cashmere bra trend. What makes this top most amazing, however, is that it can be worn front or back for completely different looks. Indeed, my mind was blown that day I randomly decided to wear it the other way around. The piece feels like two-in-one: a u-neck vest that looks casual and cool, and a classic boatneck top that is no-nonsense, all business. 

While having an unexpectedly convertible top is nice, I’d never owned a knitted vest before and wasn’t sure how wearable it would actually be. It’s a sweater/tank top hybrid that doesn’t quite fit either use-case, being too thick for hot weather and too exposed for the cold. By some miracle, it turned out to be just right for the ambient temperature of my home in spring – comfortable, but slightly cool with the window open for fresh air. The vest keeps my core nice and toasty, while my bared arms prevent me from overheating and allow me to pound my laptop with total freedom. I usually keep a cardigan or button down shirt close at hand that I can pop on if I do get a little chilly. I can also layer a turtleneck underneath on days when I need that extra insulation. Who needs an overpriced tie-dye sweatshirt?

Perfect for working from home during the transitional seasons, it’s also become one of my go-to Zoom meeting looks. I typically wear it backwards, which makes me feel a little sharper, a little more serious. While seeing myself on camera all the time is not my favourite thing in the world, hours of video calls have confirmed for me that the boatneck style is a flattering cut on me. Whether I’m wearing this top with trousers or pyjama shorts that have flowers on them, I feel instantly put-together. And if I go through the extra steps of brushing my hair and swiping on some lipstick – someone better roll out that virtual red carpet!

Jokes aside, I really do feel beautiful in this top. This piece has fit so well into my closet and I can see myself wearing it for ages.

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