There are lots of combinations of ribbing, so if you don't like 1x1, try something else (2x2, 1x3, 2x4, etc.) and see what you like. I love using seed stitch and garter stitch for ribbing, too. And some of the fancier ribbings are both fun to do and very pretty; however, if you're making this vest for you or some other man, most of the fancy ribbings are probably too lacy. Lion Brand Yarn has a bank of knit stitches, which includes some of these ribbings (you have to log in to their site to see it--but it's free and they don't send you junk mail; pssst . . . . I always use a fake name and email address).
So did you conquer the seam puppy on your hoodie? Would love to see the finished project!
And your current project sounds really interesting. Hope it works out the way you're imagining it.