How to Wear a Grey Suit with a Black Waistcoat

How to Wear a Grey Suit with a Black Waistcoat

It may seem like a simple combination but with so many varieties it can get a bit overwhelming. Check out our definitive guide on how to wear a grey suit with a black waistcoat. 

Check out more How To Wear It guides.

They're both classic suit pieces, and stick to the neutral colour chart, so making outfit combinations of the two technically isn't that difficult. But the downfall of this look is that it can get repetitive and monotonous. So you'll want to mix things up a bit.

With such a range of fabrics and prints, there are so many grey suit option. This is also the case with the black waistcoat, so you'll be able to mix and match these varieties and shake up your wardrobe in no time.



So let's start with the waistcoat. Impressed by the vests of the Persian Emperor Shah Abbas, English travellers adopted the style, bringing it to the English court. The waistcoat was first mentioned in 1666 by King Charles II, who announced that the garment should be recognised as proper court attire. For the next 200 years, men wore elaborate and brightly coloured waistcoats with ornate decoration.

King Charles II waistcoat fashion

After 1810, the fit of the waistcoat changed, as it became tighter and shorter making it more of a secondary to the frock-coat and towards serving as a foundation garment to enhance the figure. It then became even tighter, almost like a corset for men from the 1820s. As this faded out, so did the brightly coloured waistcoat, and neutral tones became most popular in order for it to fit a more formal context.


Now onto the grey suit. The origin of the suit can be traced back to the 17th century, again to King Charles II, who introduced a more formal style of dress for the men in his court.

Also of huge influence to the suit was sartorial icon George Bryan 'Beau' Brummell (1778 - 1840) who favoured a slim cut trouser paired with sharply trimmed, longer-in-the-back jackets. He could even be credited with spurring today's fashion for slimmer line, ultra tailored suiting.

George Bryan 'Beau' Brummell

While the general public began to wear modest, simple styles in grey and navy, what we now know as the business suit of today, the upper class chose to opt for more extravagant, detailed tailoring to differentiate themselves.

WW2 also played a large role in the evolution of the suit, with the need for smart, functional uniforms showing the importance of great tailoring. While replicas of military uniforms aren't used today, their influence can be seen in the precision tailoring valued in suiting today. Now we can find suits in all shapes, sizes, fabrics and fittings, in order to suit your every need, from work to events.

Waistcoat Shapes


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.


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.


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


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

Single Breasted

This will consist of one row of buttons, making the waistcoat more modern and easier to pair with a variety of suits, even jeans.

Double breasted

This will have two rows of buttons and is incredibly formal. This pairs better with a three piece suit and is perfect for super formal events. Both will vary in button number.

Flannel Suit

how to wear a grey suit with a black waistcoat- flannel suit black waistcoat

This is a great option if you're heading to a formal event, or it's a bit breezier as the fabric is both fancy and warm. But due to this combination, it's best to keep the waistcoat simple by sticking to single breasted and no lapel. Particularly if you want to dress the suit down a bit, unless regal was what you were after.

If you're looking to add character to the look, then why not opt for a patterned waistcoat, maybe a white flecked one. You can also team this duo with a bright coloured shirt to add another dimension to the look.

mens flannel suit  flecked black waistcoat

Tweed Suit

how to wear a grey suit with a black waistcoat- man grey tweed suit black waistcoat

A lot less formal than flannel, tweed is a classic suit. So you'll want to keep up this appearance with a basic black waistcoat. If you're looking to leave your blazer open, then you could invest in a double breasted waistcoat, but if you want casual, then stick to single breasted.

You can even jazz it up with a pinstripe print, so the look doesn't become monotonous and glum. If you're after more colour, then accessorise with a coloured tie that clashes with the look, or a crisp coloured shirt.

mens grey tweed suit black pinstripe waistcoat

Plain Suit

how to wear a grey suit with a black waistcoat, man plain grey suit black waistcoat

The easiest suit to style as it can literally be paired with anything. Coloured and neutral. So if you're after formal then keep it basic with a plain waistcoat, single breasted. But if you're after something a bit sassier, then a patterned black waistcoat is the way to go. You can even add brogues or loafers for extra formality, or trainers for a laid back vibe.

how to wear a grey suit with a black waistcoat, The Idle Man Suit Jacket in Slim Fit / The Idle Man Suit Trousers in Slim Fit
SHOP: The Idle Man Suit Jacket in Slim Fit / The Idle Man Suit Trousers in Slim Fit

And On That Note

It's clear that the combination entirely depends on the formality of the event. But with such a range of grey and black shades, fabrics and prints, you'll never run out of look ideas. By having pieces like this in your wardrobe, it's easy to mix and match your outfits which is great for all year round.

Keep things edgy and stay away from dreary basic outfits by popping in colour with a shirt or tie, throw in some trainers for a casual look or go all out with a printed waistcoat. With this guide you'll master this look.


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