In today’s corporate crowd, standing out can be as simple as adding a waistcoat; creating a 3 piece suit – and when you are after a simpler look or want to remove a layer of warmth the waistcoat can always be removed or the jacket.
Waistcoats add to a cleaner visual to a basic 2-piece suit; a matching fabric waistcoat can transform a two piece suit to a more formal business dress while a contrasting odd vest can add character to a “dull” outfit.
The 3 piece suit commonly consists of a single-breasted jacket, a waistcoat, and trousers all made from the same material and lining. Depending on the fabric chosen an odd vest can raise or lower the outfit’s formality.
It also creates a single, unbroken stretch of the suit fabric from ankles to shoulder. In a quality fabric, the smooth drape of cloth all the way along the body gives a man’s body a balanced appearance.
Formal vests; since tuxedo or dinner jackets are never removed the accompanying waistcoats are often created “backless” for convenience and comfort and feature a simple strap in the back rather than a full span of cloth. In casual settings with non-formal waistcoats the sleeves of the shirt can be rolled up for an old-fashioned nod to working-class styles of the early 20th Century.
Of course, a three-piece suit can always become a two-piece suit through the simple expedient of leaving the waistcoat at home — unlike the double-breasted suit, the three-piece sacrifices no versatility. Its only drawback is the added cost of the third garment.
Vests are a surprisingly hard garment to fit properly — cautious tailors will often insist on making at least a shirt and a jacket for a man to familiarize themselves with his measurements and proportions before tackling a waistcoat.
Nearly every point on a vest has relevant benchmarks for fit. At the bottom, the waistcoat should be long enough to completely cover the waistband of the pants. Any visible shirt around the waist will destroy the top-to-bottom sweep of the suit fabric.
Too long of a vest starts to elongate your upper torso, so the trousers on a good three-piece suit will be fitted high, around the natural waist, and should ideally be worn with suspenders. A belt may cause bulging in the waistcoat fabric and will be completely hidden.
The top of the vest should be high enough to be visible when the jacket is buttoned. The neckline should be broad enough that the fabric of the vest doesn’t cover the points of the shirt collar or slip beneath them.
A good waistcoat should be fitted; that is, it should have a distinct waist. Like a suit jacket, the fabric should come in at least slightly at the narrowest point on the wearer’s body. Most will be somewhat adjustable by means of a strap in the back.
Particularly bulky ties (knits especially) may create a bulge under the front of the vest, and should be avoided. The end of the tie should not stick out from under the bottom of the waistcoat. If a tie is a good match but a touch too long, it can always be tucked into the trousers.
Styling a 3 piece suit works well with contrasting colours, for example; Dark green vests pair well with brown suits, or brown vests can be worn with navy jackets, and so on. So long as the colours are distinct enough to contrast but not so bright as to seem overstated an unmatched waistcoat.
In a practical sense, most waistcoats are designed with the understanding that the bottom button will be left undone. This gives the wearer more freedom to more without restriction.
Can’t forget to wear a good pair of shoes too!
3 piece SuitclassicHow to wearJacob MedinaJared AcquaroMenswearstyleSuitsthree piece suitWinter Suits