Waistcoat: a fitted sleeveless garment that forms the third part of a man’s formal three-piece suit. Waistcoats are usually worn over a shirt and under a long sleeved jacket. In America these items are referred to as “vests”.

I fancy the androgynous and playful look of a waistcoat. They’re decorative, structured and add layering interest to an ensemble. Eclectic waistcoats are once again on trend and might be worth a try if you don’t have one already.

I prefer waistcoats in woven suiting fabrics because that’s how the item was originally intended (as part of a man’s suit). But woven waistcoats can pose challenges for bustier gals. “Locking and loading” below the bust is an option if the stance is low and the rest of the waistcoat fits well. Alternatively, fine-gauge, tailored knitted waistcoats are available in “knitwear fabrications” (not jersey). They will stretch comfortably over the bust and offer a similar mood to their woven counterparts.

Wearing a waistcoat with a button-down is the typical pairing. But thinking out-of-the-box is even better. Consider popping a waistcoat over the following pieces for a change:

  • Soft blouse: a tailored and strict waistcoat over a soft girly blouse creates a yummy contrast.
  • T-shirt or knitted top: I’m condoning formfitting printed and plain T’s as layering items for under waistcoats. The sky must be falling down. Surprisingly, it’s a nice edgy look.
  • Dress: A similar contrast is created when a soft, flowing dress is matched with a rigid waistcoat. I also like a structured sheath dress matched with a tailored waistcoat. Both looks add a fun dimension to frocks when you’re resting you’re denim jacket and cardigan.
  • Sleeveless: waistcoats look super layered over sleeveless tops. It’s a good way of achieving an Autumn look when the weather is warm.

My friend Laurel wore a fabulous waistcoat ensemble last week. She layered a black woven waistcoat over a soft, black polka-dot blouse, and matched it with an abstract patterned cream, black and red knee-length, slightly A-line skirt. I was impressed with how well the mismatched patterns worked. Laurel looked arty, funky and pulled together. Her outfit was a great little transitional look.

City Style Glenn Plaid VestReversible VestMilitary Canvas Vest in KhakiMatty M 'Central Park Suiting' Button Front Vestcrop-vest.jpgChulo Pony 'Edie' Crop VestECI Vested Blouse

An assortment of neutral woven waistcoats over button-down shirts, blouses, T-shirts, and a dress.