Vintage waistcoatsJune 11, 2015
vintage waistcoats are a wonderful fashion addition for both men and women. Waistcoats are a totally timeless item of clothing, mostly unchanged since Victorian times and excellent for getting that matchy-matchy old duffer look (A look which I have to say, I thoroughly admire). A tailored three-piece suit in wool, with perhaps a counterpane check in, let’s say, dove grey? What’s not to admire? Dapper is the word.
Updating vintage waistcoats
If you don’t want to go the full monty and have a matching vintage waistcoat, trousers and jacket you can just wear a one with a fitted shirt and skinny jeans. Ideally a beard would go well with that look too. Do NOT wear it with baggy t-shirts though, unless you want to look particularly 80s.
This goes for women wearing waistcoats too; vintage waistcoats on a woman is a very 80s look. Unless you’re wearing a tuxedo and you’re going for the androgyny effect – a black waistcoat and trousers, some slick shoes. Maybe without the shirt – the shirt could be a bit much.
Business men can style their waistcoats much as they’ve always done, matching to the suit or in a contrasting colour. Make sure that your shirt, tie, waistcoat, jacket, socks, shoes and trousers go well together though, if you’re going for the contrasting or co-ordinating look. It can be tricky to get all that right.
How to style a vintage waistcoat
You can style your vintage waistcoat in lots of different ways. You could be a pinstriped 80s business man, a waiter, a rugged worker in denim, or a Scotsman in denim. How about a Victorian gent with a waistcoat and watch chain, or a 70s festival goer in a suede fringed waistcoat. An 80s pop star? Oo, you could be a groom ready for a wedding! No wait, this all sounds like role-play and not fashion. But there’s certainly loads of choice out there. (Speaking of role-play, The Village People modelled some excellent waistcoats, from the construction worker in cut-off denim, to the “Red Indian” guy in suede or a waistcoat entirely made out of beads, to the other guy – actually I don’t know what he represented but he was wearing one too. The Village People really pulled them off well).
Design of vintage waistcoats
As far as colours and cuts go, traditionally black, navy blue and grey are best for a business suit, although mustard, pale blue and white are also traditional colours. If you’re buying 80s vintage waistcoats, they could be any and all colours. You can get single breasted and double-breasted, and vintage waistcoats with a narrow fit (more popular now) and a boxier cut. There is usually a slight amount of adjustment available in the fit with the back tie. The collar can change from a wide shawl collar to a notched one, and the fabric can either be the same as the main body, or faced in another fabric, for example, satin in a formal evening waistcoat. The neckline can be cut quite high to show beneath the jacket, or lower, so as not to.
A hipster in a waistcoat.
Lisa Stansfield wears a waistcoat in the 80s.
Very dapper. Image via therakeonline.
The Village People wearing vintage waistcoats amongst other thingsPrince Albert wears a waistcoat perfectly. Photo by Alexander Bassano, half-plate glass negative, late 1880s. NPG