► Waistcoat Style
Vintages section for some of the
numerous styles of waistcoats available in formal wear's
If your shirt has a loop for the
waistcoat neckband you will need to fasten the band after
putting it through the loop. Since this is next to
impossible to do once the shirt is on your back you will
need to execute this step before putting it on.
The full-dress waistcoat is constructed of
white piqué (marcella in the UK). It can be
single- or double-breasted but always features a deep V-shaped
opening and is made in the backless style popularized by the future
Duke of Windsor in the 1920s.
The most critical consideration is its length.
Novices invariably treat the
white-tie waistcoat as a typical suit vest, believing that as long
as it covers the trouser waistband then its length beyond that point
is irrelevant. This
approach is fine for vests covered up by standard
hip-length suit jackets.
However, with a coat that is cut high up at waist level, a long waistcoat's
bottom will be left completely exposed beneath
the coat fronts. The discordant
juxtaposition is made all the more glaring by the stark contrast of
the black coat and white vest.
Onlookers are thus left to infer that a man's dry cleaner
must have accidentally shrunk the coat down to a child’s size.
Therefore it is critical that the full-dress waistcoat be
either altered or custom-tailored to suit your actual tailcoat; it
must be long enough to cover the trouser waistband yet not so long
to extend below the coat fronts.
Within these parameters there is room for
extensive variation in shape of the waistcoat’s revers (lapels) and
its bottom edge, making it the sole garment than may be used to add a
personal touch to the otherwise rigid white-tie uniform
Better quality models will have a neckstrap
that adjusts with buttons rather than a metal ring.
Neither type of fastener is ever visible, though, as a proper
full-dress shirt will have a loop built into its upper back designed
to hold the neckstrap – and the bow tie band – from riding up above
the tailcoat’s collar.
Finer waistcoats will also feature a small loop near their bottom edges
that fastens to the inside of the trouser and ensures that the
weskit will not ride up and expose the waistband.
The single-breasted model closes with three
buttons while the double-breasted version usually takes four.
The buttons are usually self-faced (US) or
mother-of-pearl (UK) and
on better models they can be replaced with formal
waistcoat studs if desired.
A waistcoat, bow tie and shirt front
of the same piqué
provide an elegant uniformity.
A waistcoat that is too short or too long will
throw the entire outfit out of balance.
Detail of a
waistband tab inside a