The great thing about any piece of clothing is how it can be used to highlight or disguise aspects of your figure whilst still keeping you looking completely put together and dapper. There is one piece of men’s tailoring that doesn’t get as much respect as it should.
A piece that, once mastered, can bring a whole new dimension to your look. The waistcoat. It is capable of transcending social situations and dress codes, yet gives you enough room to experiment with layers and remain stylish. 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, the same applies for waistcoats.
It’s not until you see someone killing it that you can really appreciate the true potential of the item.
Getting it right
It must fit. 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.
Always button up: Because it’s supposed to make you look put together. However, always leave the last button undone, like a suit jacket.
Try not to look like a waiter: This can be done in three easy steps: One, go for seasonal materials such as tweed/corduroy or cotton. 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. Three, simply pair it with items that don’t make you look like a waiter that is anything but black trousers, unless of course it came with them as part of a suit.
How to pull it off like a real gentleman
Go for contrast tailoring: Add emphasis to your waistcoat by wearing one in a contrast colour to your regular the suit or blazer that you may have on
Think texture: Another simple trick is to pair it with pieces of a similar texture. Tweeds and corduroys go perfectly with denim and other wools, so why not try a waistcoat on with your favourite pair of jeans and a flannel plaid shirt in a complementing colour? Alternatively, flip it over and wear it with some grey tweed trousers and a chambray shirt. I also love to layer a denim jacket over my waistcoat to create a play on textures and tone.
Layer up: A lot of men tend to stay away from layering. 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.