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What are waistcoats for men and should I wear one?

A waistcoat for men is also called a ‘vest’ in English-speaking countries that do not belong to the Commonwealth. This is a sleeveless garment for a body of a man (women versions also exist and they are seriously attractive although made differently in style and possible shapes).

Men dressed with a blue waistcoat for men and white forlam shirt and red tie and sun glasses

Blue Waistcoat for Men Style

By wearing this garment, a man underlines his own physique, can hide a small belly, and receive tangible protection from cold. Waistcoats for men are usually worn with a two-piece suit (making it a three-piece suit) or with separated trousers and a jacket.

By wearing waistcoats for men, you can seriously shape up yourself in the eyes of other people and build up your style. This item completes your formal image but, along with that, it is far from being boring, as a plain suit without this garment can be. Due to high variety of colors, patterns, styles, and fits, nearly every man can select one for himself (well, if not only you are an owner of a too big belly or body, which is so big that no suit will make the right fit for you).

Surely, you can opt-out of wearing waistcoats for men – and that is also a feasible part of the style. With this garment, however, you will look much more stylish (and warmer when it’s cold). With it, you hide your belly to have a better look than without it. For those men who are too elegant to have a belly, wearing waistcoats for men will underline their perfect body, as they also highlight the shoulders. If you have strong shoulders, that’s exactly how you should visually underline them whilst staying in a gentleman’s look (not undressing self more than decency rules stipulate).

With a vest, you can create a very formal style or a part of the loose style made for fun. For instance, when you go to a pub to drink with your colleagues, then only a vest over a shirt without a jacket would be just fine. This can be a part of morning dress or black lounge suit, or even a garment for doing sports (not all of them, surely)!

Waistcoats for men: material of manufacturing and other characteristics

The materials of this garment are:

  • linen
  • corduroy
  • brushed cotton
  • tweed
  • wool
  • denim
  • pure polyester or with some additions of other materials.

You can also find mixes of the above-mentioned. Also, on the shelves of various stores (not ours, though), you can find waistcoats for men made of recycled materials, both natural and synthetic. They are more eco-friendly, sure, but they are often costlier and their qualities are not the same as of ones we have on sale.

Blue waistcoat for men in a bespoke project

Bespoke Waistcoat for Men

As for the color, there is a huge variety we have: wine, tan, rust, purple, olive green, oak, navy, grey check, grey, dark grey, cream, charcoal, burgundy, brown check, brown, blue check, blue, black, and beige.

The pattern that is usually met in waistcoats for men, is checkered, lined, and herringbone.

Waistcoats for men: dos and don’ts of wearing them

The waistcoat is usually worn with a formal shirt underneath or a necktie (depending on the temperature on the street and your personal fashion preferences). A way too informal style of waistcoats for men is received when you wear them with the T-shirt, not a shirt: this makes you instantaneously look like a representative of a lower working class without too much understanding in fashion. However, it may be the case when you do want to keep your elegance underscored yet have to work physically and so can get dirty (wearing a jacket and a nice shirt at such a moment would be an unforgivable waste of good clothes).

If you are wearing a tie, the color of the vest and tie should correspond. There are many tables of color correspondence but the general rule says: a black tie goes with a black vest, a white tie goes with a white vest.

To have a formal, elegant and classy look, waistcoat should be worn only in a combination of the same-material two-piece suit with a shirt of light hues and a tie or bow. When it’s hot, it is permissible to take off your jacket.

To make various informal styles, people could wear jeans, cotton, or leather waistcoats even without shirts, at a naked body (as the replacement for any other chest-part garment), combining with jeans or even shorts – but that is a way to certainly fool yourself, representing the entire un-seriousness of your appearance in front of everyone. As soon as you wear something like this and some of your colleagues see you, your career along with an image of a reliable man will be ruined. If you’ve seen MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” clip, you should perfectly understand what a ridiculous look can be when a vest is not well combined: you receive too sporty, too urban, too loose look, which will not make your image to be positively understood.

Opting for a knitted waistcoat combined with a same-hued jacket and pleated trousers will make you look cozy and smart, but not too smart.

Opt for a double-breasted waistcoat or single-breasted depending on your physique. A single-breasted option will look good for slim guys without too much bulkiness in their muscles.

The V/U-cut on the neck is chosen by the type of a formal event you are going to. For a simple working day, you’d simply choose a V-cut, whilst for a more elegant type of pastime, the U-cut is the right choice.

Remember that both types of cuts as well as double-breasted and single-breasted waistcoats for men can be with 5 or 6 buttons. In the first case, buttons are positioned in 1 row, in another case, they are placed in two rows. There is exclusion from the ‘button rule’, though: you can meet waistcoats having 4, 3, or 1 button – there are a little bit less formal options yet more elegant & refined. They are selectable for receptions where you have to shine with your appearance. The general rule is like this: if you aren’t sure what type of waistcoat to opt for, select double-breasted with 5 buttons V-cut (for a slimmer body/belly) or 6 buttons U-cut (for a bigger body/belly).

If you want to seem more clever, rich, or elegant (or all of them at once), you should add accessories. Watch with a chain is the first option of your attention. The chain is attached to the second from the top button in a 5-button vest and watch is put into the left pocket (if you’re a right-hander) or the right pocket (if you’re a left-hander).

Waistcoats for men: focus on the fit

You should always consider your physique before buying any waistcoat for men. If you’re picking something too loose, it can treacherously underline your chubbiness (if you’re chubby) or look too baggy on you (in case if you’re slim). In either case, it will remove all elegance from you straight away.

If you’re picking something too tight, you will greatly limit yourself in movements – you won’t be able to bend or turn properly. The worst outcome of too tight apparel will be losing one or more buttons from your vest and/or having stitches torn. For men with a belly, a too tight option will underscore their embonpoint, which a vest should, vice versa, hide.

Waistcoats for men: is there any space for experimenting?

Oh, yes! You may want to combine different colors of your vest with a suit: try black + light gray; maroon/burgundy + dark-gray, black, or navy waistcoats for men.

Men dressed in blue vintage tweed waistcoat for men with a grey tweed hat and white formal shirt

Tweed Vintage Waistcoat for men Cavani Martez

Also, change the color and type of accessories: your watch can have silver/copper/gold colors, as well as your rings (should you wear any). Glasses will make you seem cleverer (to check this combination out, google for Justin Timberlake’s appearance in vest and glasses – he looks fantastically smarter and serious wearing this combination). As thin-framed glasses will not add much to your refinement, opt for a solid frame, which is perfectly combinable with wool, corduroy, and tweed waistcoats.

What are waistcoats for men and should I wear one?
Waistcoats for men: material of manufacturing and other characteristics
Waistcoats for men: dos and don’ts of wearing them
Waistcoats for men: focus on the fit
Waistcoats for men: is there any space for experimenting?