7 Top Tips for Buying the Perfect Waistcoat

by JJ
Men's yachting wardrobe essentials

There are so many options with waistcoats that you’ll have a hearty collection in next to no time. Looking for your first one? You’ll soon become a waistcoat fiend. There are stand alone options to dress both up and down, and ones specially for 3 piece suits.

You’ll be able to mix and match the different options, ranging from the amount of buttons, to pockets to fabric, to find the ultimate waistcoat for you. You could even get it personalised. So lets get to it, here’s your ultimate guide to different waistcoat styles.

Buttons

A main feature of the waistcoat is the amount of buttons it has. They can range from 2, to 4, to 6 and single breasted to double breasted. The single breasted waistcoat will have one row of buttons, whereas the double breasted will have 2 rows, both ranging in the amount of buttons it has. This is entirely based on your preference.

Man–wearing–double–breasted–pinstripe–waistcoat

Pockets

Pockets add a touch formality to the piece as it gives it more dimension. There are no pocket waistcoats available, as well as those with 1 to 4, or a breast pocket in which you can wear a pocket square. The more pockets, the classier the piece looks.

Grey–waistcoat–pocket–square

Lapels

Peak

The peak lapel is named this as the collar peaks towards the wearer. The bottom of the collar, where the break starts, is where this peak starts and will point upwards.

peak–collar–navy–double–breasted–waistcoat

Notch

The notch lapel is characterised by the ‘notch’ or ‘cut out’ part of the lapel where the top and the bottom of the collar meet.

notch–collar–grey–waistcoat

Shawl

The shawl lapel has no breaks or ‘notch’ and just consists of a continuous curve, keep the waistcoat look clean.

Shawl–Collar–Waistcoat

Horseshoe

The horseshoe is a low cut style, in which the buttons are positioned at the bottom, leaving your shirt on display.

Horseshoe–Collar–navy–waistcoat

There is also the option of no lapel whatsoever, which can be found on most waistcoats, making it more casual.

No–Collar–waistcoat

Fabric

Waistcoats are available in so many varieties of fabrics then you’ll find the perfect one to suit you. You can mix and match what you wear with them ,and pick and choose the perfect one for the occasion, event or casual do.

Silk

Pros

  • No fabric is lighter in physical weight than silk
  • Has a natural sheen and slight iridescence
  • Because it’s so thin and lightweight, it has a delicate and luxurious feel
  • Takes colour very well
  • Natural lustre and supple movement

Cons

  • It’s a delicate material so can easily be torn when wet
  • Clingy fabric
  • Shows water marks and sweat marks easily
  • Doesn’t breathe as well as linen
  • Not very durable

Wool

Pros

  • The most popular material so easy to find
  • Wool is comparatively cool
  • Resistant to creasing
  • Durable

Cons

  • Has to be dry cleaned
  • Odour isn’t eliminated when dry cleaned, you must air it out

grey–tweed–waistcoat–sand–blazer

Cotton

Pros

  • It’s lightweight
  • It’s cheaper and more accessible than wool making it more affordable
  • It’s transitional for Spring/ Summer
  • Can be paired with a smart casual outfit

Cons

  • Cotton has very little flexibility and no natural stretch, so can feel a little tighter and more restrictive
  • Depending on the colour, cotton can easily show water marks or moisture, so a difficult fabric if you’re a heavy sweater
  • If the cotton fabric wasn’t properly pre-shrunk, you could experience some shrinkage after having it cleaned and pressed.
  • Shows wear and tear more than wool

Linen

Pros

  • It’s extremely lightweight and breathable
  • Strong, durable, easy to tailor
  • Naturally wicks away water and moisture. Dries very quickly
  • The natural “crinkle” effect keeps it from sticking to the body, allowing for increased airflow
  • Looks casual

Cons

  • Linen has a tendency to crease easily
  • Lightweight fabric so will rip and tear easily

Tweed

Pros

  • A more informal fabric, used mostly for bespoke suits, so is infrequently used in a business context.
  • Relatively thick and sturdy material, great for colder weather. (Warmer than standard wool)
  • Comes in a variety of colours and patterns.

Cons

  • Not flattering for heavyset men
  • Does need to be broken in

no–collar–tweed–waistcoat–grey–jeans–oxblood–shoes

Mohair

Pros

  • Tough and durable
  • Takes dark dyes well
  • Breathes well and stays cool
  • Has a natural sheen and luster

Cons

  • Can be a little coarse on the hands.
  • Some 100% mohairs can feel sandpapery

Personalisation

If you’re wanting to add that extra touch of you to the waistcoat, then there are a few options. You can have lining on the inside or the back, which will mostly be made from silk. This adds an edge to the waistcoat, particularly a back lining. You could even opt for a print if yore feeling daring.

If you’re after something a bit more out there, waistcoats also have the option to have your initials printed on them if made at a Tailors or taken to one.

three–piece–suit–colourful–inside–lining

Type

There are a few different ways in which to buy a waistcoats, the main 3 being ready to wear, made to measure and bespoke. Ready to wear are available from most stores so you are able to pick and choose which style you’re after. Made to measure is when the tailor will have the pattern, and just measure it to fit your body. Finally bespoke is when you choose every detail of the waistcoat, from the buttons, to the lapels, to the inside lining,  as it’s made specifically for you by a tailor.

bespoke–mens–waistcoat

Length

This can vary due to the modernisation of the waistcoat. The vest should always cover the waistband and hide the bottom of your shirt. So depending on your height, your torso length and the rise of your trousers your vest has to be different. If you’re looking to leave the bottom button of your waistcoat undone, then the vest has to be long enough so you won’t see any shirt fabric.

Colour

Possibly the most important part of a waistcoat, colour. Waistcoats are available is a range of colours and prints, so there’s one to suit every body. There’s a number of neutrals to match your suit, or mix and match to clash with it. This is also the case with the patterned options, as you can mix up your suit by adding a hint of print.

mens–waistcoat–colours

Feature image from Pinterest

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