Lay it to the retro stylings of “Mad Men” or to the psychic suggestion of Simon Baker as Patrick Jane on “The Mentalist,” but vests are back, wrapping themselves around men’s waists. And we’re glad they are. The of-late underutilized garment is perfect for adding a layer in the unpredictable weather of spring and injecting zest into any wardrobe.
Not too long ago waistcoats—as the Brits would have them—had fairly fallen from favor in men’s wear. The three-piece suit, where they were typically seen, was an early casualty of the dressed-down casual look that took a bite out of business attire. Furthermore suits in general became lighter weight as traveling men dressed for two climates in one suit. And the vest became a specialized dandy accessory to be paired with formalwear or worn at fancy weddings.
Today’s fashion doesn’t require that an everyday vest be cut from the same cloth as your suit. The garment can be loosely matched or in bold contrast to the rest of the ensemble, which is a movement last popular in the early 1960s. In fact, you needn’t wear a suit, jacket or tie at all. The vest spiffs up many a casual outfit and is even comfortable paired with blue jeans.
For the cigar smoker the vest is a practical garment as it usually offers a number of pockets in which to tuck cutter and lighter or even to have a couple short smokes peeking out of. But wrapping one’s torso in such a manner is a boon to any man’s look as it tends to neaten his appearance and lends slimming lines.
Of course, the look comes to us from England, where the Restoration monarch King Charles II first popularized it as a much longer piece of clothing than it is today. Centuries later Edward VII inadvertently set the fashion standard for leaving the bottom button undone as he became more porcine. But we’re no longer British subjects and can do whatever we like with our waistcoat buttons. Also consider that great vest options now arise from these shores, like the tattersall vest from Stinson R. Ely and Robert Talbott pieces in floral pattern (top) and pink (bottom).
Visit stinsonrely.com and roberttalbott.com.