If you ever run out of ideas on how to wear a waistcoat, just look back to the times when they were commonplace, such as the s, s and s. During the summer, I wear one as an alternative to a jacket as it keeps me looking respectable while providing some much-needed breathing room and circulation around the neck and arms. But it seems to me that this humble piece suffers from a bad reputation these days. This way you can guarantee it will have a high quality of tailoring rather than mass production and it gives you the option of going all out three-piece if you want to at a later date.
In the same way that most guys hate the idea of wearing a suit because all they have to go on are real life examples of men wearing suits badly read: Those days when we thought all we needed to look fancy was a shiny black polyester waistcoat, white shirt and a stupidly skinny tie.
Of course, the waistcoat came complete with awful floral purple satin lining and everything. And did we button it up? What are you, mad? Firstly, fit is king as always. Make sure it has high armholes, fits snug around shoulders and torso but without there being any pulling around the buttons or the fabric at the back.
Excess material just makes you look bigger than you are; the whole point of a waistcoat is to help you look more streamlined and tidy. Secondly, always button that bad boy up. Thirdly, try your best not to look like a waiter. This can be done in three easy steps: This avoids that shiny polyester appearance that looks so tragic in any light.
Two, avoid any unnecessary details such as fancy lining or bizarre affectations like pocket watches. Or one that came as an option for a suit, at least. This way you can guarantee it will have a high quality of tailoring rather than mass production and it gives you the option of going all out three-piece if you want to at a later date. The other nice thing about buying a waistcoat this way is that they often come with lapels of their own, which when worn without a jacket can add a really nice formal touch to a look.
But luckily, this is where the waistcoat comes in. By simply wearing one over your usual dress-down work ensemble of chinos, shirt and tie, you add a point of difference to an everyday look and can still look sharp once the coat comes off.
The T-shirt Conundrum — ah yes, this is a tough one. However, what I love to do at the moment is take inspiration from eras when tailored pieces like this were more common — be it old photographs, Boardwalk Empire or films like Lawless and Gangster Squad. Then look to branch out into other colours and fabrics, such as a navy corduroy number or a beige cotton version for the summer. But why not tell me what you think? Are waistcoats still a viable addition to your wardrobe or are they underrated for a reason?
How would you incorporate them into your wardrobe? Did you actually like The Fratellis? Instead, opt for colours that complement or contrast — for example, a grey waistcoat with a navy suit — so people realise it was a conscious decision. Finally, consider fabrics such as linen, cotton, tweed or corduroy, which will add texture and depth to your ensembles.
If you plan to wear your waistcoat as a standalone piece, why not look for one that comes with its own lapels? This is the easiest way to incorporate a waistcoat: I have a couple of solid-coloured waistcoats that I use during the summer which look great when combined with a dress shirt, knitted tie and suit trousers:. The key here is to pick a waistcoat in an interesting fabric and combine it with complementary pieces. For example, in summer, why not pair a grey linen waistcoat with lightweight indigo jeans, a cotton plaid shirt and brown suede penny loafers?
In winter, on the other hand, try a brown tweed waistcoat with some heavy twill navy chinos, a chambray shirt and some desert boots:.
Not so much a focus in summer although with the way the British summertime goes, who knows , waistcoats are an essential layering tool. A lot of men tend to steer clear of heavy layering during the colder months in favour of a simple thick overcoat. This does offer some benefits: Luckily, this is where the waistcoat comes in. Wear one over your usual chinos, shirt and tie combination on dress-down Friday to add a point of difference and remain looking sharp once the coat comes off.
As previously mentioned, contrasting or patterned waistcoats can also be used with your suiting in order to add a touch of personality to your business or formal looks:.
If you ever run out of ideas on how to wear a waistcoat, just look back to the times when they were commonplace, such as the s, s and s. Not only were fabrics like corduroy and tweed used more regularly during these eras, they were often paired with other workwear items such as Henley tops and shawl neck cardigans. Get all the latest must-read FashionBeans content direct to your inbox weekly:.
See all the latest vouchers, discount codes and offers from all your favourite stores for October A Modern Must-Own Over the last couple of weeks, we here at FashionBeans have been focusing on how to put together looks for the summer. Waistcoat Buying Guidelines So what are the key things you need to bear in mind when buying a waistcoat? Styling Ideas Here are a few ideas on how to wear your waistcoat this summer:
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