The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Suit Vest

Man in dark blue suit vest

The vest is an essential garment for anyone who loves classic elegance: it’s a fundamental element of a three-piece suit and it has gained over the course of time a leading role in the male wardrobe by being an indispensable protagonist in ceremonies and a precious ally in business or casual contexts.

Here is all you need to know about the vest: its history, its characteristics, how to choose it, match it and wear it.

Style Basics

Regardless of whether you’re matching your vest to your suit or not, it’s important to recognize that the simple act of wearing a vest in the first place means that you’re a little more dressed up than if you didn’t wear the vest. Simply put, the more layers you choose to wear, the more dressed up you are.

Excluding exceptions, the vest must always be worn over a shirt with a buttoned collar and under a single-breasted jacket or blazer. It should never be worn under a double-breasted jacket: the neck of the jacket, in fact, must be large enough to allow the waistcoat to be visible.

It must be snug and adapt perfectly to your body, so as to make it comfortable to carry the jacket over it. Its length must be sufficient to be able to cover and hide the waist on the front, while laterally and on the back it is usually shorter.

For these reasons, opting for a made to measure vest is always the best solution: you will be sure to wear a vest of the right length, made to fall perfectly and adapt to your physicality.

Shape

The shape of the vest refers to the opening style. A V-shape is more common whereas a U-shape can be a little more English looking, I feel.

The V-shape mirrors the style of a men’s suit nicely and is quite versatile being dressed down. On the other hand, a U-shape will always be pretty dressy looking, and overall, offers a softer look when worn with a suit.

Fit

A suit vest should be slim cut and tapered slightly at the waist. This creates a very tailored look, which is what you want from your vest. If it just hangs in a straight line with your torso, you’ll look baggy and unkempt.

The shoulders should be snug and lie flat against your body. There shouldn’t be any gapping of the shoulder line.

The armholes should be high up against your underarms; this will ensure a better fit against your body. If there is any straining or pulling of the vest buttons, the vest is too small and needs some alterations.

The neckline of your vest creates a V-shape and rises relatively high against your chest. The shape of the V should be narrow enough so that others can see a hint of your vest when you button your suit jacket.

Your vest should have at least one more button than your suit jacket. And remember to leave your bottom button undone.

Generally, most suit vests will be single-breasted. However, in those rare instances when you are wearing a double-breasted suit vest, it will likely have lapels.

Lapels

Lapels on a vest aren’t overly common today, at least in the New York or New Jersey area. Typically, we’ll make a vest with no lapel just because it has a cleaner look. That being said, there’s certainly nothing wrong with having a lapel on a vest. Similar to a suit or tuxedo, you have three basic options: notched, peaked, and shawl.

A Guide to Colors

The vest can always be paired with the original suit. Broadly speaking, you should always be able to match the vest with the same color suit.

Black

The black vest is versatile. You must pair your black vest with a black suit for the most formal appearance. This is ideal for official occasions, funeral ceremonies and even weddings. At the other end of the fashion range, your black vest can create a comfortable and comfortable look. Wear comfortable black pants, light blue inlaid shirts and black or brown leather boots. You can wear black vests in casual, black gray pants, light blue inlaid shirts and brown leather boots. Alternatively, wear a navy outfit and black shoes. Add a crisp white shirt and you’re ready to go. A contrasting red tie would look very nice here. You can also combine your black vest with charcoal gray pants, but avoid wearing a jacket.

Blue and Gray

Blue and gray are the backbone of any well-dressed man’s closet, especially when it comes to suiting. Outfits like a navy blue blazer and gray pants are traditional and easy pairings. To update this color combo, try mixing a gray vest into a blue suit. A solid vest provides a simple backdrop on which to apply some pattern, like a check suit and a striped knit tie. When the vest is a neutral gray you can pair it with almost anything, but we still love the timelessly elegant blue and gray combo.

Brown

The brown suit vest doesn’t match only the original brown pants and jacket. Brown also joins very well with blue. Try the navy pants with a light blue shirt next to the brown vest. Add dark brown shoes and pull them all together with your tie. Choose navy background, brown highlights, and even a tie with a few contrasts of lighter blue. If you want to wear your brown vest in a completely different way, find well-dressed blue jeans. Add a pair of brown leather shoes and wear a white, light-collar shirt.