The Hottest Thing You, a Man, Can Wear Right Now Is a Carhartt Vest

An investigation into why the workwear staple is making people so horny

February 29, 2024 10:19 am
A model wearing a Carhartt vest, on a vintage flame background.
The Carhartt Mock-Neck Sherpa-Lined Vest. Swoon.

The antithesis of the Patagonia Fleece Vest is a Carhartt vest.

If the sweater-knit vest is synonymous with a certain subset of upwardly mobile analysts and I-bankers, then you can probably deduce the sleeveless layer with a rugged cotton duck exterior is affiliated with tough, outdoorsy types. The type of guy who plays opposite a corporate, high-powered city gal in a cheesy holiday Hallmark movie. The kind of man who wins you over with his hard-wearing hands he uses to slug axes and build houses for orphans. 

Well, that’s what TikTok is saying, anyways. 

“All I want is a man in a Carhartt vest,” a now-viral video from TikTok user Julia Leahy begins.“I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what you wanna call it, but you take an average Joe Schmoe, stick him in a Carhartt vest — boom — I’m submissive and breedable.” 

“This man makes me want to ovulate,” she continues, taking viewers through a series of men modeling various vests from the workwear brand. 

“He looks like he’s gonna go chop wood, and then he’s gonna go have a tea party with our daughter. This man looks like he can crack a crisp one with the boys, but he can appreciate a good glass of wine. He has a Labrador retriever and he knows how to cook. And he smells like pine cones and lust.” Capping off at two million likes, it seems the video’s sentiments are widely shared. 

Kelci Taylor, a stylist with Style Girlfriend and who also does personal styling for women, offers up some insight into what exactly makes a man in a Carhartt vest so appealing. 

“Regardless of whether a man puts in the effort, [a Carhartt vest] has an effortlessness about it that people are drawn to,” Taylor tells InsideHook. The layer might also suggest that you’re competent enough to put a complete look together.

“I think it shows a bit of awareness. You’re wearing it for warmth, obviously, but there is something about it that feels like a throwaway. Like, oh, no big deal, just, adding this on top. But from the female gaze it’s like oh my gosh, now he’s actually wearing a full outfit,” she explains while also noting its distinction between that other ubiquitous vest style. 

“Women might also be interpreting that this is a man who actually can get down and dirty. It just has a totally different connotation than that of the clean-cut Finance Bro look.” And this attitude is clearly what the above TikTok video is expressing. Despite its ability to align itself with various subcultures, Carhartt still exudes a robust, masculine energy. Regardless of what kind of man is outfitting a Carhartt vest or jacket, what he’s putting out into the world is I can chop wood and build you a fire. 

Okay but what if you’re not working on a rig or operating heavy machinery or, in fact, a an axe-wielding, flannel-wearing lumberjack with a beard down to there? 

It’s pretty well-established that workwear has been co-opted by artsy Brooklyn bros and celebrities like Zac Efron for quite some time now. As Highsnobiety notes, “Workwear has slowly become part of everyone’s rotation,” and Carhartt, in particular, has gone from a brand that was founded to make gear for Michigan rail workers to a streetwear staple associated with hip-hop artists, skateboarders and A-list actors. 

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“I don’t necessarily have a problem with it being co-opted by non-working blue collar kinds of people,” says Taylor, stressing that the appeal of workwear is its durability and sustainability. “At the end of the day, the reason that workwear has stuck around is because of its actual quality and its staying power. It can physically stand up to years and years of wear.” 

So now that you have the approval of TikTok and an A-grade stylist, you can, and should, cop your very own Carhartt vest if your closet is lacking one. But heed this warning: Unless you are, in fact, the authentic blue-collar type or descendant of Paul Bunyan, you might want to tread lightly when styling your new rugged layer.

“A plaid shirt, a Carhartt vest and a pair of jeans might feel a little on the nose,” says Taylor. “So think twice if that’s the direction you want to go.” Instead, try and keep it simple with a white tee or crewneck sweatshirt, a pair of jeans and your favorite shoes — sneakers or a loafer. Or lean into the workwear of it all and get yourself a nice pair of durable work pants. 

“I love a workwear pants moment as well. So a black workwear trouser rolled up a little with a Chuck Taylor, a T-shirt or a crewneck sweatshirt, and that Carhartt vest is the perfect weekend look, especially for transitional weather,” she adds. “If that’s the look that you wear when you go get your afternoon coffee at 3 o’clock on Friday, that is a perfect, perfect look.”

So, the next time the temperatures hit 60 degrees, break out that Carhartt vest, and transform yourself into the style-conscious, hardwearing hunk that you are.

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