The waistcoat has made its way back into men’s streetwear this year with a vengeance. It has served as a savvy statement piece worn by such male celebrity figures as Justin Timberlake, David Beckham, Zac Efron, R Kelly and Jay Z, so it’s no surprise that it is now the third essential component to the classic and ever dashing three-piece suit.
The three-piece suit is one of the most formal types of suits. Its trendiness has been cyclical, disappearing and reappearing throughout history. While the petticoat has been around since the 17th century, modern suits with matching waistcoats first came into style in the 1930’s and became prevalent due to movie stars like Clark Gable. The style then vanished after WWII due to fabric rationing, returning again in the 80’s with bankers in London and on Wall Street, and then disappeared during the casual 90’s. It has now emerged again in full force.
The three-piece suit has been seen on the runways and in fashion spreads galore. Celebrities like Usher, and pop culture TV characters like Roger Sterling of “Mad Men” and Patrick Jane on “The Mentalist” have brought this look into the spotlight.
The three-piece suit provides a trimming, classy business look. The waistcoats look snazzy and are super slimming when cut in a low V with a tie tucked in.
Alternatively, they can also be cut higher, which can give the illusion of more height, but makes your designer tie less visible.
When selecting fabrics, simplicity is the key. You can’t go wrong with a basic charcoal grey wool Gabardine or, for colder months, a heavier tweed with texture. A simple pinstripe or subtle grid pattern also looks very sophisticated and office appropriate.
Fit and How to wear it:
Make sure your waistcoat falls long enough to just below your waistband so your tie does not peak out below. Wearing it with an open jacket completely shows off your vest, which is essential with a lower cut waistcoat. Otherwise you won’t see it at all.
Alternatively, fasten the 2nd to last button on a standard two-button jacket as shown below. Feel free to snaz your jacket up a bit like the Italians do with a contrasting handkerchief worn in the front breast pocket.
The best part about a three-piece suit is that you have some versatility. You can easily go from day to evening by removing your jacket to show off your vest.
The waistcoat also serves to as an extra layer of warmth during the winter months, but can easily be removed, so you have a basic two-piece suit when required. As an additional perk, the vest itself can be worn casually with jeans on the weekend or casual Fridays.
What’s not to love?