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Your Style: Lourdes High School’s Men’s Sweater Vest Club

March 30, 2019 GMT

Spring weather cannot come soon enough for most, especially this year. But for members of the Men’s Sweater Vest Club at Lourdes High School, warmer temperatures will be bittersweet. As the cloak of winter goes, so too, will their favorite attire — back into closets and drawers.

In the meantime, however, club members are still donning their vests, said Lourdes English teacher and new club member John Schreiber who said he couldn’t be happier than to have found kindred sweater vest enthusiasts at Lourdes.

Asked if membership is open to women, Schreiber said, “Since we do not discriminate against any group, of course! … We had an ‘all staff’ sweater vest day and some women and students joined our ranks.”

On the current membership roster, in addition to Schreiber, are: Steve Strickland, activities director; Mark Nuehring, religion; and Dave Jenson, science. Spanish instructor Shannon Clapp is a possible inductee, added Schreiber.

Might we have a little club history?

John: As a new hire at Lourdes, I began wearing my usual sweater vests when winter rolled into Minnesota, as I did over many years of teaching at Triton … At Triton, I was the lone sweater vest wearer. … When I came to Lourdes, I didn’t know that I was joining a group of distinguished style mavens. … Little did I know that many of the male faculty also had significant investments in this business-professional look — with a tie, of course.

Mark pointed out other teachers who wore sweater vests and told me that Steve Strickland, the Lourdes activities director, probably had the most. …Clearly, I was in a very distinguished group. Yet it created an existential crisis: Will I be able to fit with these style-setters? However, I’m glad to say that they’ve welcomed me into the club.

Steve: I have coached at Lourdes for 10 years now, and I have worn sweater vests as part of my coaching attire. … They look great with a nice dress shirt. … Mark Nuehring suggested to me this fall that we should have a Sweater Vest Club.

Mark: I noticed Dave Jenson wearing them last year, my first year, and thought he wore them very well. I decided then that I needed to pull mine out from the recesses of my closet. … When I saw Steve wearing some this fall, I decided to ask him how many he had and, when he told me 19, I decided we had to think about starting a club. Then, one day, I was talking to John in the commons when Steve approached and I said to both, ‘We ought to start a Sweater Vest Club.’ Someone asked what would be the dues and John said, ‘You’ll have to get a sweater vest.’

Dave: Mark and I started joking that we were in the purple shirt club one day when we had matching shirts, and that morphed into the Sweater Vest Club in its current iteration.

We have had a few informal SVCs — Sweater Vest Clubs — over the years. When I started 11 years ago, our long time AD Marv Peters was well known for wearing sweater vests. Since I was a young teacher at the time, I thought dressing like Marv would make me look smarter. Instead, I just looked older. Now Steve and Mark have upped the variety of sweater vests with their wardrobes in the past couple years.

What makes you a vest enthusiast?

John: I wear them because they are warm for the Minnesota winters without being bulky like a full sweater. Also, since the men are required to wear ties, I like them because since the tie is hidden by the vest, I don’t have to check to see if my tie is too long or too short. That saves me time in the morning!

Steve: Sweater vests have always been a big part of my wardrobe. I like how they look and they are comfortable. … I wear short-sleeve jackets, too. The students have fun with that too.

Mark: About 10 years ago, I started wearing vests because I thought they dressed up the shirt and tie ensemble in the winters. Besides, it was cold in my office at the time. … Inspiration equals warmth!

Dave: Since I am a football coach, I always think of Jim Tressel and Gus Malzahn on the sidelines in their sweater vests with school colors and logos. And I totally agree with the time saving benefit of not having to readjust my tie, as John mentioned. … I usually wear one when it is one of those extra chilly days or when I just want to look a little nicer than the average day.

Please tell about your respective vest collections?

John: I can’t compete with Steve. I only have 10. But I have a few favorites. … As soon as one starts getting nubby, my wife ships it off to Goodwill. Sometimes she asks first. Sometimes not. In her defense, she usually has one already picked out to replace it.

Steve: I don’t have a favorite color. I have many with patterns and solid colors. I just have to have them match what I am wearing. I have purchased a few from Hanny’s downtown and my family likes to get them for me for Christmas and my birthday.

Mark: I have about eight, if you count the button up variety which I think is out of style right now. … I have both button down or up, and pullover. The ‘tradition’ at Lourdes seems to be for pullover so that is all I have worn to Lourdes, but I like them both. I have a taupe one that I get the most compliments on from students. … I have one sweater vest that was purchased at Goodwill. It is wool and has a lot of colors in it so it goes with anything, but I have been reluctant to wear its bold design to Lourdes.

Dave: My options are pullover vests with solid colors; I’m really hoping to branch out into argyle in the future. Alas, I cannot divulge my shopping secrets!

How do think others, including students, view your vests?

John: I’m sure they’re impressed by our classic attire! A sweater vest doesn’t go out of style.

Steve: Students love the look!

John: Or, at least we like to think that they love the look!

Mark: Every time I wear a sweater vest, a number of students compliment me. I think it adds a flair to the winter wardrobe and the variety is noticed and appreciated by the students. …When I wear a sweater vest I do feel more dressed up than when I wear a full sweater… explain that one, gentlemen?

And from the possible inductee?

Shannon: “Gentleman, it has been my lifelong dream. … I look forward to getting my first sweater vest!”