JKISSI: Who knew one type of garment contained so many discrepancies when it came to how we chose to identify it? Stateside, the item is most commonly identified as a “vest,” though I think that vague moniker applies to any sleeveless piece. Across the pond, the term “waistcoat” is usually attached to the item. That best fits the description and function of the garment, which is why this post is called “The Waistcoat” and not “The Vest.”
I’m not here to discuss semantics of the piece (Waistcoat vs. Vest), but instead, to talk about how it can be incorporated into your own style across the map. Because the first waistcoats were originally meant to provide an extra layer of warmth, it shouldn’t be a surprise that today’s version of the waistcoat makes a great layering piece.
Similar to other garments recent times (like sweaters and pullovers), we snatch the waistcoat away from its previous notions of formality and give it a more casual context through the addition of jeans, T-shirts, and even sneakers.
Fit Details: I got the tweed waistcoat from GAP while I was working there several years ago. Interestingly enough, I recently stumbled upon it while welcoming the spring season by cleaning out my closet. I found the vintage Brooks Brothers tie for 99 cents at a thrift shop. It’s similar to a tie many companies would charge $50 or more for. At two-and-a-half inches wide, I think it’s the perfect width for a tie. It’s not necessarily too skinny, but not incredibly wide, either. The Flat Head jeans have been receiving a ton of wear even though the temperature is rising.
It intrigues me when I see older gentleman wearing waistcoats with a pocket watch dipped in one pocket. A perfect example of a person who does this is professor Cornell West. I recommend you watch this video on his thoughts on “What is Style” brought to us by Prepidemic Magazine.
“Style allows you to project to a sense of what is outside of you and connect those things , and other that are outside of you and bond you in such a way that people feel you” – Cornel West
Photography/Video: We set out to achieve the great city ambience of New York City and there was no other place better do so than Midtown. Midtown—known for its glorious skyscrapers and recognizable architecture—fit perfectly into the mood we were looking for. This mood was further accentuated by this happening in the midst of clusters of dress-up business individuals, all maneuvering in an automaton-like way. We figured that since were born to such a great city, why not express that with style?
People : Joekenneth, no stranger to this blog and the potent mouthpiece behind the ‘Sewn From the Soul’ video, made an appearance with myself in this post. A keen eye can see the meticulous detail that went into his outfit – I enjoy the color transition from his plaid tie <-> stripe shirt <-> shoes <-> red bag.
“King Charles II introduced the waistcoat as a part of correct dress during the Restoration of the British monarchy. Samuel Pepys, the diarist, wrote in 7th October 1666 that “the King hath yesterday in council declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes which he will never alter. It will be a vest, I know not well how”. This royal proclamation is the first mention of a waistcoat. Pepys records ‘vest’ as the original term. The reason for the term ‘waistcoat’ was to denote the termination at the waist, whereas, at the time, men’s formal coats went well below the waist as frock or morning coats.” – Giles, Bellamonte – Designer, UK