If there’s one item that sets you apart as a man who dresses well, it’s a waistcoat. Wear it right and you’ll look sharp for work, charming at weddings and comfortably smart at the weekend. More than just an accessory, waistcoats are designed to define your torso and create a smooth finish where your shirt meets your trousers. They’re also more versatile than you might think and look at home as a part of lots of different outfits. Here’s how to get maximum mileage out of your waistcoat.
First of all, as with all tailoring, getting the fit of your waistcoat right is essential to looking well-turned-out. It should sit close to your body, but not feel restrictive so you can move without it gaping. The straps should fit flat on your shoulders without lifting up when you move your arms around. Follow these few rules and you’ll find one that suits your frame perfectly. Most waistcoats have a strap at the back that you can adjust to help it fit better, but avoid relying on this too much because you don’t want the material to rumple.
Let’s start with the classic matching option. It’s the look to go for if you want to get ahead at work or you’ve got a dressed-up occasion like the races or a wedding. Select the waistcoat that’s made for the suit and you won’t have to worry about whether or not it looks right.
Contrast your tie and shirt combination to bring your outfit to life and feel free to show a bit of personality with the pattern and colour in your accessories. Or, show your easy-going side by ditching the tie and going for an open neck, as long as it won’t look out of place on the day.
Basically a three-piece with a bit more personality, this option brings together contrasting patterns in your waistcoat and suit. Think a plain waistcoat under a checked suit, or a tweed waistcoat with a contrasting plain-weave suit.
It’s a bit more adventurous, but you’ll look smart and still stand out at meetings and upscale dos. Wear a contrasting colour in your tie to add to the layered effect, or keep it simple with a coordinating one.
Rather than going traditional and wearing a jacket-and-trouser two-piece, replace your jacket with a waistcoat to keep cool on warm days without losing any sense of style. Some waistcoats come with a pocket on the chest so you can add a square and dress it up if you want to.
Dressing a waistcoat down works well too, and will see you from brunch to the bar. Wear it over a casual shirt with a pair of jeans or chinos to polish up your weekend apparel. This look works best with a textured waistcoat, like herringbone or tweed.
Either wear your shirt open-necked or add a knitted tie to smarten up a bit. Just be sure to tuck your shirt into your jeans to keep your silhouette streamlined.
A few last pointers to bear in mind. Don’t say we’ve not got your back.