The vest is a loose-fitting soutien-gorge that is usually sleeveless, open in the front, and hangs from the shoulders. It conceals the breasts by virtue of its length and by gravity.
Topologically the vest has three edges: the two armholes, and the edge that runs around the neck down the open front and around the back (CM7410). Vests permit a full vertical strip of cleavage to be displayed without any lateral support encumbrances (CT5670).
The vest may also be worn so the vertical opening lies on the back instead of the front (G8827). This is rare.
Vest necklines can be conservative or open, and the lower edge of the vest can approach the waist or rise dangerously close to the breast. Because it is loose, the vest provides the breasts with no support whatsoever; furthermore, the wearer risks exposure of nipples in an variety of circumstances: leaning over, running, raising an arm, and dancing (TA5510). It is this a playful garment for nippage.
The Evolution of the Vest
Like the nombril and g-string, vests emerge in erotic art as part of the costume of the harem girl, a trend seen in the 1930s (ZJ3210-30) and resurrected during the hip-hugging 1960s (CM7410).
The vest is also found as a covering to a bra or bandeau, if only because it enables more variety of exposure (BE6501, RS7103). But unlike other accoutraments of this genre, the vest has found little acceptance in swimwear, because they entangle the arms while swimming. But since many believe that 70 percent of all swimsuits never get wet, then the vest is as legitimate as many a bandeau or halter, which are equally as likely to undo themselves in the water. One rare exception is this Gottex experiment (EM199001). Another is the completely unzipped neoprene wet suit (EM198801).
Faux Vests and Cousins
Some have argued that the vest may be laced or buttoned in the front (ET6401), but when it is fully buttoned and closed it takes the form of bra, croptop, or shirt, from strapped to longsleeved. The lattice tie front allows the width of the center channel of cleavage to be varied, but it is still closed, and the garment does have four edges. Likewise the normal front-button shirt, only unbuttoned, rolled-up from the waist and tied in front , also fails the vest test, even though it may endanger breast exposures.
Conversely an otherwise closed top, when unzipped, forms the vest species (EM198801).