Waistcoat Style Guide For Men

All About Waistcoats

A man’s waistcoat can tell you a lot about him. This core part of a 3-piece suit is often neglected and usually the piece that gets the least use. However, a waistcoat should be a point of pride. Not only do waistcoats add a formal touch, but they can add intrigue, elevate your outfits, and express your personal style.



If you want to know more about men’s waistcoats and take your waistcoats to the next level, read on…


Cody 3-Piece Suit, SUAVE OWL White Shirt, Plain Twill Tie & Pocket Square Set


What Is A Waistcoat For?

A waistcoat is worn over a formal dress shirt, usually as part of a 3-piece suit with a suit jacket and suit trousers. They smooth the silhouette, define the torso, and create a seamless blend between the torso and trousers.



A waistcoat adds that extra touch of formality to an outfit. They also provide an opportunity to experiment with mixing suit pieces, including an intricate design, and play host to your pocket watch. Additionally, it can be a practical piece in your suit ensemble. When you remove your jacket, perhaps at the later portion of an event, you will retain formality with your trusty waistcoat.


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Waistcoats, and what they do for an outfit, will vary from waistcoat to waistcoat and person to person. Figuring out how to make a waistcoat for you might be a process, read on to get started…


How Should A Waistcoat Fit?

A waistcoat should hug the figure but not constrict it. It should not hang off the frame. A waistcoat should allow for full movement of the body too. Of all the suit pieces, the waistcoat is intended to have the slimmest fit. Make sure it sticks close to your torso. Don’t worry if after a few drinks and some food it starts to feel a little tight, most waistcoats have adjustment bands in the back which can be loosened and tightened as necessary.



When wearing a waistcoat, it should be long enough that none of the formal shirt is visible at the bottom. Ideally, it should also cover the entirety of a belt if one is worn and have an excess of about one inch of fabric at the bottom.



With the right snug fit and length, you’ll have a waistcoat that fits you perfectly.


Single Breasted Vs Double Breasted

You may hear about single-breasted waistcoats and double-breasted waistcoats and feel a bit lost. Don’t worry if you do, the differences between the two, and what they’re best for, is quite simple.


Marc Darcy Ted Tan Tweed 3-Piece Suit

Ted 3-Piece Suit, SUAVE OWL White ShirtPlain Twill Tie & Pocket Square Set


The easiest way to tell the difference between a single-breasted and double-breasted waistcoat is to look at the buttons. A single-breasted waistcoat will have one line of buttons down the middle connecting the two sides. A double-breasted waistcoat will have two lines of buttons where material will cross over. While telling the difference is really that simple, there is further difference in how they function and their formality.


Caridi Navy Jacket, Ted Double Breasted Waistcoat, SUAVE OWL Pink Shirt, Plain Twill Tie & Pocket Square Set


Both waistcoat styles have a V neck, which brings attention up to the chest; the double-breasted’s V is more curved, often featuring curved lapels too. The cross-over of fabric on the front of the double-breasted gives a stronger structure to the outfit than a single-breasted. Both styles can be worn by anybody, but it’s worth noting that the double-breasted style’s added structure can add bulk to your form if it is incorrectly fitting


Did You Know?

Waistcoats have been around for a long time! They’ve been a regular addition to a gentlemen’s wardrobe since King Charles II began to wear them in the 1660s, and they around before this too! When wearing your waistcoat, you can feel connected to centuries of gentlemen before you!



You may know that it is commonplace for men to not button up the bottom button on a waistcoat. However, did you know that this act is linked to another monarch? Edward VII began leaving his bottom button undone to accommodate his large figure and this soon became the norm. Doing this allows for easier movement and more comfort while sat down, so it’s no surprise men are still doing this over a century later!


Caridi Olive 3-Piece Suit, SUAVE OWL White Shirt


Men's Waistcoat Outfit Ideas

There’s more than one way to wear a waistcoat! Whilst you may see a waistcoat most worn as a part of a three-piece men’s suit ensemble, there’s so much more you can do with your waistcoats. Read on for some simple men’s outfit ideas with a waistcoat and find some new inspiration for this formal staple.


Men's Smart Casual Outfits With Waistcoat 

A waistcoat is an intrinsically formal item, making casual outfit waistcoat styling near impossible. However, it is incredibly possible to make a waistcoat a focal point of a smart casual waistcoat.


Wells 3-Piece Suit, SUAVE OWL White Shirt, Plain Twill Tie & Pocket Square Set


You can also keep it keep it simple with a formal shirt, jeans, and waistcoat. This simple outfit is perfect for looking that bit more dressed up for casual occasions. On hot days, you could even swap the formal shirt for a short-sleeve button up, polo shirt, or T-shirt.


Miami Sky Blue Waistcoat, SUAVE OWL White T-shirt


You could also wear chinos, a formal shirt, brogues, a suit jacket, and a waistcoat. This could be a perfect first date outfit, interview outfit, or for any event where you want to dress to impress.


Formal Waistcoat

When it comes to men’s formal outfits, a men’s waistcoat is thoroughly at home.


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A men’s waistcoat looks perfectly at home as part of a 3-piece men’s suit. While it may be a classic combination, it will never let you down. Check out our men’s suits collection to see what suits, and waistcoats, SUAVE OWL has to offer.



One aspect of your men’s waistcoat you can explore is mixing and matching. Having your waistcoat stand out from your jacket and suit trousers can be both a flattering and intriguing outfit. It can provide a pop of colour, an extra detail, and represent your style. Consider mixing and matching your waistcoats for an outfit that is all the more unique to you.


Jamal's Wedding Attire


Suits with SUAVE OWL

The Ultimate Guide To Men’s Suits is the best blog to start with for men’s suits. It explains suit fit, how to find the best suit fit for you, and men’s suiting essentials. For further reading, our formal menswear style guide Navigating Men's Formal Wear: A Comprehensive Style Guide and our smart casual menswear style guide Mastering The Art Of Semi Formal Attire For Men are excellent choices.



Follow our InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterest and TikTok for more outfit inspiration. Feel your best on race day and keep it simple yet significant with SUAVE OWL.

1 comment

  • Great guide! The versatility of waistcoats is often underrated. This article offers fantastic insights into how to style them for different occasions, whether it’s a formal event or a casual day out. I particularly appreciate the emphasis on fit and fabric, as these details truly make a difference in achieving a polished look. Definitely bookmarking this for future reference!


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