The boundless appeal of the Waistcoat

The waistcoat has a storied history that dates back hundreds of years, but the beloved garment continues to endure as a staple of sartorial menswear.
Jack Nicholson, as private detective JJ Gittes, in a still from 'Chinatown', directed by Roman Polanski, 1974.

It might have been a one tournament style for England football manager Gareth Southgate - even he’s joked that, after the commotion it caused, he may not ever wear a waistcoat again. But there was something about his wearing it - perhaps on such a big stage, perhaps among managers inclined to run the sideline in less formal attire - during the World Cup of 2018 that put the garment in a new light. Sales rocketed. The waistcoat was the style of the summer - yes, the summer.

But why, of all garments, was it not something louder, stranger or altogether more left field than the waistcoat that caught the national imagination, and which has since undergone resurrection? Sure, taking a suit from a two-piece to a three-piece adds gravitas - or grey hairs, depending on your perspective. By turns buffer and bankerish, the formal waistcoat is not for all - an idea to which is given some testament by the fact that the three-piece suit is still generally considered attire for special occasions, the likes of one’s own wedding day. That way too often lies the ‘jazzy’ waistcoat for the Man Who Wants to Stand Out (But Not Too Much); for, as seen beneath a jacket, that party-party flash of fun that’s a step on from the novelty tie.


    January 2022


    Also read