Waistcoats are having a fringe fashion moment. This is another nod to the oh-so-on-trend throwback to ‘90s fashion. To recap, a waistcoat is a short and formal tailored vest with front buttons that is usually worn over another layer like a shirt, tee, blouse, knitted top, turtleneck, or pullover. It can also be worn as a sleeveless top over a bra, camisole, or tank top. It’s a traditional menswear garment that forms part of a three-piece suit.
Waistcoats are generally solid and neutral, although you’ll also find pinstripe, plaid, tweed, and non-neutral waistcoats. They are usually fully lined, and some have interesting back detailing. Formal suiting fabric is popular for waistcoats, but you’ll find velvet, denim, jacquard, linen, leather, suede, faux leather, and cotton versions too. The collection below shows some examples. Retailers have often styled them as sleeveless tops, but layering is the more traditional approach. Maybe cast your mind back to how you wore them in the ‘90s, the last time they were a mainstream trend.
Waistcoats are fab if you’re into wearing a tailored third piece that isn’t too bulky, constricting, and warm. Some have stretch which amplifies the comfort. You can wear some waistcoats unbuttoned, in which case they look less tailored, but still streamlined. You can wear them with matching bottoms or as an item topper. Waistcoats can look fab over skirts and dresses too.
Waistcoats can be tricky to fit if you’re after a perfectly tailored fit. You might need to err on the more fluid side, have the sides seams altered, or look for a version with stretch to create a comfortable fit over the bust. Or simply wear it open and unbuttoned.
Waistcoats seem more of an acquired taste in 2022. But in the early ‘90s, they were a HUGE mainstream trend in women’s and men’s fashion. I had several, and loved them. My favourite was a multi-coloured floral one that I liked best with a shirt, Levi’s 501’s, and boots. It had shiny buttons and I liked the glitz. There were also black lace and pinstripe ones that I wore for a dressier look over a fitted bodysuit and wide pleated pants. I remember wearing those waistcoats to work very frequently. And a tan one in linen that I liked the least and hardly wore.
This time round, waistcoats are not on my shopping list. I like the way they look, but not enough to get one for myself on this leg of my style journey. I’m more into wearing suits with matching jackets and pants. I will enthusiastically cheer you and your waistcoats on from the sidelines.
What do you think of the waistcoat trend?