Saturday, October 9, 2010

Vests and Braces

Winston Churchill in classic attire for his day
There’s a direct connection between wearing braces and a vest. Alan Fusser (“Dressing the Man” 2002) describes it further: “The vest as we know it today originated with the postboy waistcoat of nineteenth-century England. It was worn for warmth by the postboy, or postillion, who rode as guide on the horse attached closest to the coach.

“Up until World War II, men always wore vests in the wintertime with their single-breasted suits. In recent years the vagaries of fashion have brought this custom in and out of favor. “Fashion” should not be your guide. If you have an opportunity to purchase a vest with you suit, do so. There are numerous advantages to owning a vest, not the least of which is the increased versatility of a three-piece suit. A suit worn with a vest always gives a slightly dressier look.





The vest gives a clean, smooth look
Vests should fit cleanly around the body, covering the waistband of the trousers and peeking just above the waist button (or middle button) of the suit jacket. Good vests are often cut so that one doesn't button the bottom button, a tradition that began when a member of English royalty appeared at a public function with his bottom button mistakenly undone. This faux pas was picked up by the middle class and has remained with us ever since, producing a casual, somewhat more open look.


“Of course, there's no sense wearing a vest if it's not worn correctly. When the jacket is buttoned at the waist, one should be able to see just a small part of the vest above it. Any higher than this and the effect becomes strained, concealing too much of the tie as well. Also, the neckline of the vest should not cover the collar points of the dress shirt but should instead clip them slightly. In addition, the entire elegance of a three- piece suit is destroyed if the trousers are worn on the hips, below the inverted V at the bottom of the vest. This allows the shirt or belt to interrupt the smooth transition line from vest to trousers.

“A well-made vest has a definite waistline, which is where the waistline of the trousers should hit. The front of the proper vest is normally made from the same fabric as the suit, while the back uses the same fabric as the sleeve lining of the suit jacket.
The correct way to wear a vest
After removing the vest, it's visible to see the pants are supported by braces
“Vests are adjustable in the rear and traditionally have four slightly slanted welt pockets - two just below the waist and two breast pockets. The breast pockets are deep enough to hold a pair of glasses or a pen, while the shallow lower pockets afford one the option of sporting a pocket watch.

The pants pass over the waist
“In the last twenty years, the popularity of jeans and European-style pants has unfortunately accustomed most young men to wearing trousers that are too tight and rest on their hips. Trousers were originally made to be worn with suspenders, which held them on the waist, not the hips, and that is where they look and hang best. No well-dressed man would wear trousers that rested anywhere else. This is not an arbitrary gesture. Every man, no matter how thin, has a slight bulge in his stomach area. When trousers are worn on the waist, they pass smoothly over this bulge in an even drape. Furthermore, waist-worn trousers emphasize the smallness of the waist. They sit there comfortable, supported by the hips. Trousers worn on the hip, however, must be belted tightly, for there is nothing to hold them up. In consort with a vested suit, trousers resting on the hip can only detract from the overall appearance, particularly when there is a gap between vest and trouser top. There is nothing more unsightly - and nothing that draws more attention to the waist - than to have a visible bunching of the shirt or the belt sticking out from between the vest and trousers. The solution is to reaccustom yourself to the way men used to wear trousers. It made sense then and it still does today.

As illustrated below, compare the difference in these two photos. The outfit on the left shows a large, white gap above the waist-line and draws attention to the mid-section. The outfit on the right has a clean, smooth line that passes over the mid-section. If you look closely you will notice that the one on the right also has braces attached.
As you can see, braces are required when wearing a vest, to keep the shirt from sticking out between the pants and vest, or having a bulge from the belt buckle.

Discussion time:
  • Do you wear vests?
  • Do you wear braces with vests?
Note: all photos are used solely for non-commercial use and to illustrate braces in fashion. No plagiarism is intended.

    4 comments:

    1. I'm often shy to show my suspenders, so I hyde them either under cardigans or waistcoats. But I noticed that the back clasps become always visible at some point and People told me it was charming.

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    2. i wear braces all the time.

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    3. I'd rather be caught with my braces showing than my underpants!

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    4. I want one that just hovers over the brace buttons, again a new item to look for!! I have asked a question about wearing braces on Y!A. I feel a bit more brave about my penchant for them !! I also feel braver commenting in here. I just wish more women would admit they like wearing braces !!

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