Mens waistcoats are back in business with the world accepting relaxed and comfortable clothing to date. Corporate dress codes have become less strict and with this there are fewer occasions that would need a perfect formal suits.
With all this happening there are still events that you need to dress up to impress. Even if not on a daily basis business meetings, job interviews and other formal events will require you to suit up in a three piece suit so that you get an elegant put together look.
Now the mens waistcoats come as the part of three piece suit but was out of style for a while when the two piece styles were the trend. The mens waistcoats were considered to be very formal and with the lack of events that require that kind of formal outfits the usage of waistcoats saw a great decline. But recently the waistcoats are back in style with them being incorporated into even casual styles thus making them a versatile wear. They are originally designed to be worn with the suits but the fashionistas as always have a wider perspective for the clothing.
The mens waistcoat isn't a new style and has been in the history of men's clothing for a long time. Actually this is one of the garments which history can be dated precisely. When the King Charles II issued an order in 1666 that explained the proper dress code after the Restoration of British monarchy the original name of the waistcoats were recorded as vests. The term waistcoats came into existence when the style shortened and ended at the waist as opposed to the former design that went well below the waist.
For over two centuries men were known to wear elaborately designed brightly colored mens waistcoats. In 17th century the prevalent style was to wear a waistcoat with a frockcoat over it. 18th century was a golden time for waistcoats since it almost became the dress code and a man without a waistcoat was considered to be underdressed. This bright waistcoats continued to be in trend until by 19th century they were forced to wear waistcoats that were of dark colors due to the introduction of suit styles that required of them for the colors of waistcoats and suits to match.
About the start of the 19th century the fit of the mens waistcoats also became tighter and shorter and were considered more like an undergarment. Although they greatly rose in popularity they shifted from being a centerpiece to being a foundation garment in men's clothing. Next came the phase of men wearing corsets with Prince Albert, the Consort of Queen Victoria being the trendsetter of this style. Mens waistcoats only complemented this beautiful style thus enhancing the figure. This style remained for some time but by 1850s the corseted waisted soon turned back to straight.
Surprisingly many traditions we follow now only came into existence due to necessity of that time. King Edward VII had a ballooning waistline and thus wore his waistcoat with the lowest button undone. His faithful subjects who saw him as the fashion icon followed the style thus making it a trend. Another view is that the button was kept undone so that the garment does not ride up when on horseback. This was also the time when men started to keep their pocket watches in the front pocket of their waistcoat along with it attached a chain with the buttons. This famous Hollywood style is still worn by some gentlemen.
The mens waistcoat remained a staple garment in men's clothing that was seen as a work wear and also extra layer to keep warm until mid twentieth century but with the post war rationing hitting the clothing industry sweaters and pullover became popular to keep the wearer warm. Also, as the technology set in with the central heating systems installed the layering of cloths also became optional.
Now with the vintage styles making a comeback the mens waistcoats are being increasingly adopted by the new fashion industry. Waistcoats widely known as vests in United States are close fitting sleeveless men's garments with an array of buttons on the front. They are available in both single breasted and double breasted styles and wore under a suit or jacket. They mostly match in color with the rest of the outfit but can also be worn in contrasting colors. There are similar styles that are worn by women.
Wearing mens waistcoats can flatter your body shape when fitted properly. You can still look dressed up even when you remove your jacket since it conceals baggy or creased shirts that result after a long day. You need not stress about the style and can rock it effortlessly if you follow some simple guidelines.
Fit is the most important thing in a mens waistcoat. As the name indicates it has a purpose of accentuating the wearer's body shape and therefore should closely fit to the body and never should hang around the body loosely.
Now as the fit is the one thing you will have to get absolutely right, we are going to dive into details. It may be a deceptively simple thing but it does require careful consideration. Now the basics of the cut are what you need to get right.
As the mens waistcoat is the slimmest garment in menswear it is cut with little allowance that is meant to fit close to the body. A properly tailored waistcoat should keep close to the body without it being too tight that the fabrics pull at the buttons or it being too loose. If you see an X line forming when the waistcoat is buttoned then it is your cue to get it one size bigger. A cinch is provided at the back portion so that you can adjust the size to a certain degree after a big meal or just when sitting.
Another important thing to note in the fit of the mens waistcoats is its length. Note that your waistcoat should be long enough to cover full portion of the waistband of the trouser and the fabric of the shirt you are wearing underneath should never show at any point along the waist. To get this right make sure to wear your pants at the natural waist and then try the waistcoat on. The last button of the waistcoat is often left open to facilitate easy and comfortable movement.
The button stance of the mens waistcoat is purely based on the wearer's preference. A waistcoat's button stance is the position of the first button from the neck. Old vests are for people who would like to show more waistcoat under the jacket with its fabric riding quite high towards the neck. Tuxedos have waistcoats cut so that very little shows above the tuxedo jacket. In normal suits it is better to have about two to three inches of waistcoat visible above the closed jacket of the suit.
There are options available on the number of buttons on the mens waistcoat. The classic fashion is to have five buttons but for men over six feet, five becomes too low a number and leaving too much space between the buttons makes the design look faulty. Thus, for taller gents it is better to get the seven button style to provide visual balance.
For any top garments be it jackets or overcoats the collar is one defining area of style. As in the case of waistcoats due to the lack of collars, neck hole becomes the deciding factor that determines how the fabric will drape over the body. It should be noted that the shoulders of the waistcoat should fit nicely around the back of the shirt collar. If the neck hole is too loose then the fabric often is seen riding up or gaping. It creates a gap around the shirt collar thus allowing the waistcoat to move around as opposed to fitting snugly. But if you see a favorite style with this problem you can buy it and alter it with your tailor since it a relatively easy process.
Single breasted mens waistcoats are the most famous styles while the double breasted ones are reserved for the most formal events. It may seem intimidating but it is easy to style a double breasted waistcoat if you stick to key details. Keep the styling to minimum. A plain navy suit paired with a dark waistcoat and a textured tie gives a polished look that you can pull off at any important business meetings.
While most mens waistcoats come in matching colors with the suits there is nothing wrong with styling it in contrasting colors. If you are one to think out of the box or one who just loves to dress different then go for waistcoats that contrast but complement the color of your suit. This style is not new and was once a classic British formal wear. Thus make sure to try this look for summer weddings (since summer always complements bright colors) or any dressy events.
As said before mens waistcoats are increasingly being adopted not only as formal wears but also with the casual wears. Don't be afraid new looks by pairing the waistcoats with relaxed open neck shirts, chinos and even jeans. You can also wear waistcoats as an alternative to blazers or sports coats when on a casual outing in weekends. Go for knitted waistcoats that can add some textural interest to an otherwise plain casual outfit that makes to look smart.
As in any men's garments mens waistcoats also come in different styles and varieties. Not restricting yourself to the ones you purchase with the three piece suits try getting separate pieces that match with your existing wardrobe. The fabrics variety is also numerous. From cotton to velvet there are all sorts of varieties. Also, there is no written rule that states you to wear all the pieces from the same fabric. A woolen dinner suit paired with a silk waistcoat may be a smart pick for any black tie events.
Now with the all the do's being done it is time for the strict don'ts. The first rule is to never fasten the last button of your waistcoat. Be it business suits, dinner suits or anything leave it open so that you have freedom of movement along the hips. The only exception to this rule is the black tie events in which you will have to secure all the buttons for it to be deemed properly formal.
As mentioned earlier when said about the fit, it is deviating from the main purpose of the mens waistcoat when the fabric of the shirt you wear underneath shows. This may sometimes be a little tricky since nowadays most brands nowadays cut their trousers too low that lets the shirt show along the hips. If your trousers are too low for it to be formal wear them with braces so that it gives a lift for them.
If you are deciding on a double breasted jacket then make sure to go with a single breasted waistcoat. If you go all double breasted it may look a little old fashioned and therefore it is best to mix the styles.
Never wear belts with the mens waistcoat. Mens waistcoats are designed to fully cover the waistbands of your trousers thus it should be fitted flush with the belt getting in the way. Tie clip becomes optional since the waistcoat also serves the same purpose that is keeping the tie in check. Therefore, opt for one or the other since both together may be an overkill.
Mens waistcoat style until before was only worn by some jazz musicians and other boy bands. But now the style is effortlessly rocked by some fashion icons and the style seems to be a regular in red carpets and runways. The waistcoats have become a versatile garment that was given a nod by the fashion king in himself Ryan Reynolds. In recent times he is rarely seen without a waistcoat whether be it with a proper three piece suit or with a simple white shirt and chinos. Now with additional approval from stars like David Beckham and Keanu Reeves the summer style is set to take over the fashion world once and for all.