A full guide on men’s waistcoats


Let us talk about men’s waistcoats or vests as they are also known; for a man’s wardrobe is never complete without a waistcoat and a suit.

What are men’s waistcoats and what purpose do they serve?

Waistcoats are waist length formal sleeveless and collarless jackets that are worn between a suit and a shirt. And although most men prefer to wear a two-piece suit sans a waistcoat, this accessory adds extra style and elegance to a man’s formal outfit.
Waistcoats are also very practical as they also add a layer of warmth in cold seasons and give you a reason to take off your jacket and casually roll up your sleeves in warmer seasons.

Although waistcoats are traditionally formal pieces of clothing, there are also ways to wear them with casual outfits.


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Read on as we share insightful tips on how to wear a waistcoat.

How to wear men’s waistcoats


The first thing to take into consideration when you want to wear a waistcoat is its fitting. Waistcoats add a streamlined and slimming effect to a man’s physique and should not be baggy or too tight on the body. If you are getting a tailored waistcoat, get measured accurately, and if it is a readymade waistcoat, know your correct size.


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Natural materials like cotton, linen or wool are better options when choosing your waistcoat. Avoid by all means possible nylon or polyester waistcoats as they will have an ‘off’ fit and are tacky and uncomfortable.


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Formal outfits

If you are wearing a suit paired with a waistcoat to work or formal event, opt for a single-breasted styled one and match the colour of the waistcoat with the colours of your jacket and trousers. Make sure the waistcoat seats well on the body in the case where the coat has to be taken off, and the waistcoat is worn alone. Stick to traditional neutral colours such as grey, navy blue, black, and brown.
For formal occasions like a wedding, you do not have the luxury to walk about without your jacket especially when in a waistcoat tuxedo. Also, you have more options when choosing your waistcoat. Choices from either a double-breasted and single-breasted waistcoat; wearing a V- neck or U- neck waistcoat, and if you want lapels or none.
U-necked waistcoats should only be worn with a bow tie or fully ‘tie-less’.

In both instances, waistcoats MUST always be worn with a dress shirt.


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Casual outfits

Wearing a waistcoat with your casual outfit tweaks up your overall look with added style.
The rules on how to wear a waistcoat with casual outfits are more lenient as almost anything works, and the aim is to steer away from a very formal look.
The key to casually wearing men’s waistcoats is the fabric. Cotton and tweed waistcoats are your best bet for casual looks, also taking into consideration the colour and cut of your waistcoat.
Fitted jeans, chinos trousers and shorts are best paired with waistcoats, so forget about baggy jeans or cargo pants.
Experiment with prints and pattern on your waistcoats, but nothing too flashy or shiny.
Make sure that your waistcoat complements your outfit in terms of style and colour and that your shirt is always tucked in.


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– Never button up the last button on a single-breasted waistcoat. Leave it free for ease of movement as well as the added look of elegance
– Do not over accessorise when wearing waistcoat for men. They are already an accessory on their own and going the extra mile by adding tie pins, chained pocket watches, pocket squares is a lot. Less is more.


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– Leave your belts at home when wearing a waistcoat outfit to avoid a bulge. Just make sure that your pants fit properly and don’t sag
– If you just asked if you could wear men’s waistcoats with singlets or alone, the answer is a big NO.
– Flip-flops and waistcoat outfits should never be considered.
– Run away from embellished or over-detailed waistcoats especially when gunning for a formal look. Lace, sequins, glitter…No way men!