Waistcoats: Stylishly Practical or a Frivolous Fad?
Posted on December 13 2021
The waistcoat or vest (US), is having a splendid resurgence. Worn with aplomb, it is a true style statement. Is the waistcoat style over substance, though? Should you join the fashion bandwagon or stay clear of a fad? Can the words stylish, practical, and waistcoat even go together? If you are yet to be won over by the waistcoat or find it a daunting prospect, consider how style and substance don't have to be exclusive of each other.
A style staple verses a fashion fad
Waistcoats or vests (US),are having their moment in the fashion spotlight. However, the waistcoat has a long and varied history. Originating from the ornate vests of the Persian courts, King Charles II was so impressed with their merits he adopted them as standard British court attire to create a distinct appearance. Their evolution has gone through a variety of phases, from the flamboyant display of their post-court heyday to the subdued Victorian three-piece lounge suit, to the Great Gatsby style herringbone, and steampunk throwbacks.
Granted, there was a lull in popularity from the mid-20th century, when fashions and formalities relaxed. Waistcoats were replaced with practical pullovers, and shirts were allowed to be displayed in their full glory. They were mainly worn at the most formal occasions, or the knitted forms had a grandfatherly reputation associated with garden sheds. The wearing of suits even became redundant in many business sectors, as work dress codes became more casual.
However, since the courts of the 17th century to this day, the waistcoat has remained a sign of a gentleman, a classic, and contemporary in its own way. Rather than being a short-lived trend, they have stood the test of time. They have always differentiated, impressed, and adapted. The modern-day take on the waistcoat reflects its longevity and the journey it has taken; whether worn formally or casually, with or without a suit, colorfully or discretely, there's a waistcoat for everyone. It is indeed a style staple, so don't shy away from adapting it to your style, and don't be afraid to stand out. After all, a waistcoat's purpose is to distinguish.
Practical versus frivolous
If dressing like a gentleman and standing out doesn't appeal, perhaps you're the type of man who wears what you like regardless of what others think, or the common-sense sort who can't be doing with frivolity. Well, maybe the practicalities of a waistcoat might strike a note with you.
One teacher was asked why he always wore a waistcoat. The students thought it was because he was a maverick or making a fashion statement. His reply was, "because then I only have to iron the sleeves and collar of my shirt." A slightly extreme example of practicality, but illustrative of some of the benefits of sporting a waistcoat!
Waistcoats cover the body of your shirt, giving a streamlined effect. Instantly, a wearer looks taller and fitter. Errant shirttails, bulging bellies, buttons that have popped open, and belts straining on their last holes are all covered up. There's no need to keep tucking your shirt in, or even ironing it all come to that. There's no need to worry about accessories; a waistcoat is an accessory in itself. Plus, with the wide range of formal and casual options to choose from, there's no need to worry about being underdressed or overdressed when wearing one. It's a nice in-between option if you don't like wearing suit jackets but might be underdressed without one. A waistcoat is surprisingly practical, and can be wonderfully frivolous at the same time.
The waistcoat just won't go away. It is one of the most versatile, stylish and practical garments. The array of choices and styles, instead of complicating the waistcoat, actually simplify it; there are fewer rules and there's more scope for individuality. Enjoy the practical benefits while keeping true to your fashion ethos. Whether you prefer a knitted version for lounging or a satin beauty for a night out, there will be one for you. Try experimenting and find a waistcoat that distinguishes you in the style you want.