Vests were once a necessary part of a gentleman's kit, originating in Britain, where multiple layers make perfect sense and where they are still known as "waistcoats." America's founders wore woolen waistcoats, which must have made the July 4 signing of the Declaration a rather sweaty affair. Today, in the era of central heating, vests are less about climactic necessity and more about creating options and personal style, as exemplified by NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz (above), who always wore a 'mission vest' sewn by his wife while at work. Vests can be of the button-down variety, either collared or uncollared, or they can be of the sweater vest variety, which should be avoided altogether if one lives anywhere in the vicinity of, say, Phoenix, Arizona or Death Valley, California.
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