How to tell if your waistcoat fits?
Few items in a man’s wardrobe are potentially as smart as a waistcoat. And, last summer in the UK, British retailer Marks and Spencer reported a 35% hike in sales of waistcoats.
Why was this? Well, the football World Cup was in full swing and the England manager, Gareth Southgate, had been patrolling the touchline dressed in some rather nifty waistcoats. It seems that men just really like this look.
That said, before we walk you through how best to wear a waistcoat – and how to make sure yours fits perfectly – there are one or two dos and don’ts you should know about around when it’s appropriate to wear one.
Wearing a waistcoat: dos and don’ts
DO wear it in a three-piece
This is the only way to wear a waistcoat: as part of a three-piece suit. It adds formality and creates a clean, crisp look.
DO opt for a real shirt
Wearing your waistcoat with a t-shirt is just a huge no-no. It’s like teaming patent-leather shoes with Bermuda shorts. Please don’t tell me you’d do that.
DO go for an odd waistcoat
Odd Waistcoats are part of 3-piece suits but made from a fabric different to the jacket & trouser. They’re typically worn at formal events. We recommend having the jacket on at all times while wearing the odd waistcoat while ensuring the fabric selected isn’t bolder than the jacket & trouser – think a plain pattern and a muted colour.
DO go for the double-breasted look
For more-formal events, such as a wedding, a double-breasted waistcoat in classic grey waistcoat (a white Marcella for a white-tie event) can breathe life into a morning suit, or just look smart on its own.
DON’T fasten the bottom button
This is where Gareth Southgate went wrong. He insisted on doing up the bottom button. But because the position of this last button is traditionally on the waist, it might create tension when you sit down. Opening it up allows you some give.
DON’T wear yours with jeans
Unless you’re officially the world’s best-looking man, avoid this look.
DON’T wear it loose
The great thing about waistcoats is that they act a bit like a corset. They’re great for slimming you down. To ensure you achieve this effect, make sure it’s not too loose or too tight. Too loose and it’ll just look baggy; too tight and you’ll be showing off your lumps and bumps.
How to wear your waistcoat
Now we’ve got the etiquette out of the way, let’s consider how best to wear your waistcoat and how to make sure that your waistcoat fits perfectly.
In menswear, the waistcoat is the slimmest garment going. It’s designed to create a smart silhouette and sit close to the body, with very little tailoring allowance.
Buy a well-tailored waistcoat and it will skim the torso without feeling tight or showing any fabric pulling. If you’ve overindulged with the dinner or drinks at a wedding, or even if you’re just a little portly, you can adjust the ‘cinch’ at the back to loosen that tight grip on your tummy.
Finding the perfect waistcoat length
The most important element to get right when it comes to waistcoats is the length. To pull the shirt and your trousers together, your waistcoat should overlap your waistband slightly. An inch should do it. You don’t want to be showing any shirt beneath the coat. This means that your trousers should also be sitting on the natural waist. As we’ve discussed, it’s usual to leave the bottom button unfastened to allow room at the hips for movement and sitting, so make allowances for this when considering the length. In the case of double-breasted waistcoats, your tailor will advise you on the correct length. They’ll also be straight rather than notched.
We hope this article helps you get the best out of your waistcoat. This article is part of a series of guides on how to make sure you have the perfect fitting suit, including tips on:
Looking for the perfect waistcoat or jacket for you? Book an appointment with our travelling tailors and our stylists will measure, advise and order you your brand new custom tailored garments. We regularly host trunk shows in cities around Europe and America. View the complete list of upcoming trunk shows here.