How a Waistcoat Should Fit

How a Waistcoat Should Fit

We love the waistcoat and know that many of you do too. So, we've created a style guide to show you how to find the perfect men's waistcoat that will make you both look and feel great.

Read more Men's Style Guide features.

The waistcoat has travelled through several decades becoming one of the most favoured garments in menswear. Whether you're attending a formal or casual event, your waistcoat can be the perfect garment to complete your sophisticated look. We're taking a closer look at this essential part of a man's wardrobe.

Waistcoats for Men

You no longer need to turn your head at your hand-me-down waistcoat as they've become an essential part of a gentleman's wardrobe. You can use it within your ensemble or go it alone. You can keep things traditional by choosing a dark colour or be more confident by opting for a vibrant pattern.

But what is the best way to wear a waistcoat? To look less like your Grandad and more like yourself, it's essential that you discover the right fit and styling for you. Of course, Idle HQ has done all the hard work for you, so it's time to reap the rewards and look like the stylish man we know you are.

Types of Waistcoats

When choosing your type of waistcoat, it's important to pick a style that represents who you are. Your waistcoat should elevate your confidence and make you feel strong. Your upcoming event should be reflected within your choice of waistcoat and luckily for you, there's a few styles to pick from.

suit vest fit suit vest mens suit vest
Men with suit vests | PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest

Waistcoat vs. Vest

The waistcoat or the vest? Believe it or not, both are actually the same thing. The difference lies within the lingo. Honestly, we kid you not! If you're wondering how to wear a vest, it's no different to wearing a waistcoat.

In the UK, we refer to it as the waistcoat. We know it more for its contribution to our fantastic three-piece-suit. Whereas internationally, it's recognised as the vest because of the way it slips onto the body. But all in all, it's the same garment. Who knew?

How Should a Waistcoat Fit

If you want your waistcoat to look good, then you need to secure the perfect fit. Keep these top three tips in mind when you're next shopping:

1. Your entire waist should be covered - Don't skip out on discovering the right fit as your waistcoat should cover your whole waist and fasten up nicely. Your body should never feel restricted, so make sure you can move and breathe!

2. Your dress shirt should be fitted - Your dress shirt should sit nicely on the body and shouldn't look creased or scrunched. This is one way to know if your waistcoat is too tight.

3. The neck hole should sit flat on the shoulders - Your waistcoat should always be sitting flat on the shoulders and should not have any movement. If you can see obvious gaps, your waistcoat is too big.

waistcoat for men suit vests fit
Tailor fitting a man's suit | PHOTO CREDIT: Man of Many

Formal Waistcoats for Men

Black Suit and Waistcoat

You can't go wrong with a classic black suit and matching waistcoat, especially where formal events are concerned. It's the most accepted attire for men's formalwear, so you'll be a winner if you turn up wearing this.

grey vest and pants black mens man style
Men's formal vest | PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Waistcoats

The Fit

  • This is the time when you need to be really conscious of how your waistcoat looks as it needs to appear fitted. The garment should look very hugging and should avoid having any possible gaps.
  • You also need to ensure that the length is right. It should cover all of your stomach and should stop at the very bottom of your waist. If you have any doubts about the fitting, visit your tailor and ask for your alternations.

The Style

  • The styling of your black suit and waistcoat will depend on your dress code. Your waistcoat should always be matching to your trousers and blazer. No exceptions!
  • To complete your look, choose a white dress shirt, black bow tie and matching shoes. You can also throw in accessories such as a smart watch to update your look.

The Occasion

  • Your black suit and waistcoat should be kept for your most formal events. This is typical black tie attire, so you can't go wrong by choosing this combo.
  • You should avoid wearing this style to any casual event as you will feel incredibly overdressed. However, if you really insist on this style, you should lose the jacket and switch the bow tie for an ordinary black skinny tie.

waistcoat-for-men-formal-vest
PHOTO CREDIT: Pinterest | SHOP: Shirts | Accessories  

Grey Suit and Waistcoat

For those days when you want to feel smart but not too overdressed, the grey suit vest is the answer. It's the top choice for the modern day man who wants to keep sophisticated but add something unique to his style.

waistcoat-for-men-grey-suit-vest-david-gandy
David Gandy wearing a grey vest and pants | PHOTO CREDIT: Retro Beyond

The Fit

  • Waistcoats draw eyes to your waist, so you need to make sure that the length fits you right. As the grey tones are much more visible, it will be obvious if your waistcoat is too long or short for you.
  • The same also applies for the back of the waistcoat. You need to make sure that the fabric is not scrunched and too tight. If you find this happening to you, simply loosen the waistcoat using the small buckle at the back.

The Style

  • For your formal events, you should pick your classic light grey and silk fabric. For your casual occasions, why not mix it up and choose dark grey and tweed-like material? The perfect day-to-night outfit.
  • You can also play around by adding black accessories into your look. Switch to a black dress shirt, shoes and tie to really make your waistcoat stand out.

The Occasion

  • You need to check with your host before wearing a grey suit to any formal event, as they will expect you to turn up in full black. This grey look is becoming more popular, so it's always worth asking beforehand.
  • When it comes to casual occasions, you don't have to worry about the shades of your attire. However, it's a good idea to leave your jacket at home. Your grey waistcoat will standalone well and maintain your smart look.

waistcoat for men grey suit vest fit and black accessories
Black shirt & shoes |SHOP: Shirts | Shoes | PHOTO CREDIT: Tuxedo Central

Casual Waistcoats for Men

Brown Suit and Waistcoat

Before you dismiss the thought of a brown suit and waistcoat, be open-minded. This isn't the first choice for many guys, however it makes the perfect casual look.

waistcoat for men brown suit vest james marsden formal
James Marsden Wearing a Brown Suit and Waistcoat | PHOTO CREDIT: Tom and Lorenzo

The Fit

  • The length for your waistcoat can be more relaxed, so it doesn't necessarily have to stop at your waist. You don't want it to look too short, so only play around with an inch or two if you must.
  • You don't have to keep your waistcoat as fitted either. Instead, make sure that you have room for movement but we still want to avoid having any major gaps.

The Style

  • With your casual waistcoat, you want to focus on the buttons. This is the time when you're allowed to leave your waistcoat unbuttoned or if you want to, button them all up apart from the very last one.
  • You can also stray away from the traditional dress shirt if you want to. Stick with a short sleeve shirt to keep in tune with the traditional look and play around with your colours. How about a nice crisp blue one?

The Occasion

  • You should always keep your casual waistcoats for your more low-key events (unless stated otherwise by your host) as they may not follow the stated dress code. Plus, not everyone is a fan of a brown waistcoat.
  • You can also use this style for your office wear too. A good waistcoat can look great in particular academic environments such as a university or a college. It will allow you to act and feel smart.

waistcoat for men brown suit casual vest mens suit vest
PHOTO CREDIT: J Crew | SHOP: Shirts | Shoes 

Casual Waistcoat Styles for Men

Wearing a Waistcoat with Jeans

For some men, finding the perfect waistcoat is really simple but matching them up with the right attire is the real issue. Now you can wear your waistcoat with jeans and they'll still look pretty good. It's another spin on the casual look which has taken menswear by storm.

waistcoat for men casual vest grey suit black vest
Man Wearing a Waistcoat | PHOTO CREDIT: Bar Moda Masculina

The Fit

  • Even though this style is very casual, you want your waistcoat to appear formal. Follow all the rules of black-tie to achieve the smart look and it will help you to not appear too casual.
  • Also, you need to take into account of your other pieces too. Your dress shirt and jeans should also be well-fitted, so your frame doesn't look out of proportion.

The Style

  • You want to cast your mind away from your waistcoat and style this look around your jeans. By choosing dark coloured jeans, you will appear more smart.
  • You can also play around with your waistcoat. Why not try an edgy pattern to update your look? We think a checked waistcoat will look great with all styles of jeans.

The occasion

  • You don't need a specific occasion to wear your waistcoat and jeans but it's always best to keep it to casual events. Got a party? Try out this look.
  • This can also be a great look for everyday wear as many guys love the feeling of being smart. You can even wear this at home if you really want to? We won't stop you!

waistcoat-for-men-casual-vest-and-jeans.
SHOP: Waistcoats | Shirts | Jeans

How to Roll up Your Sleeves

Rolling up your sleeves can create the perfect dressy-casual look. It's easy and simple to achieve, with some practice. Watch this video to see which way suits you best.

How to Wear a Suit and Waistcoat

Originally, the waistcoat was worn solely for formal events as part of your three-piece-suit. But the modern man is breaking all tradition by wearing it whenever and wherever he likes.

You now have the option to wear your three-piece-suit (waistcoat included) or go it alone by losing the jacket and keeping the waistcoat. This all depends on the type of event you're attending, so check with the host first before making any style decisions.

History of the Waistcoat

We can't get enough of waistcoats. If you want to know a little more about these you can get an idea of their history, watch this video to see how the waistcoat and the three-piece-suit began.

Your Quick Guide to Discovering the Perfect Waistcoat

  1. It's essential to find the right fit - Your waistcoat will never look good if it doesn't fit you properly. Take a trip to your tailor to achieve the best fit.
  2. Think about the nature of your occasion - Waistcoats have become an iconic garment for both formal and casual events. Not all styles will be suitable, so take a look at the dress code first.
  3. Play around with colours and patterns - Due to their growing popularity, they're now available in all shades and textures. Choose the style that will represent your personality and one that will make you happy.
  4. Always choose a dress shirt - No matter what your final choice might be, you should always choose a dress shirt. They match up nicely with waistcoats and they look even better when you roll up your sleeves.
  5. Leave your jacket at home - The waistcoat is a popular garment and should be celebrated. You don't need to hide behind your blazer, so we insist that you leave it at home (on this occasion anyway!).

On That Note...

We're a huge fan of the waistcoat for many reasons. They're simple, stylish and very sophisticated. They go perfectly with both formal/casual wear and can look great on just about any man.

By opting for the waistcoat, it means that you have the option to leave your blazer at home. No really, you can! The waistcoat has become the main garment, meaning that all eyes will be on you. By rolling up those sleeves and showing off your muscles and/or tattoos, you're bound to get some female attention too.

Above all, you need to make sure that your waistcoat fits you perfectly. Having the wrong fit can either make or break your look, so get friendly with your tailor. You should feel comfortable and confident while wearing your waistcoat. That's exactly what it's all about.

SHOP WAISTCOATS

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