I recently was helping a couple plan their outfits for their wedding day, and they were sharing that they wanted a slightly more relaxed feel to the occasion, and were looking for a way to make sure the groom looked smart, but not over dressed, so he could still feel like himself. After a little bit of discussion, I recommended the use of a waistcoat and suit trousers, rather than a full suit, and we decided this was the perfect solution. This got me thinking – are there more ways to use a waistcoat in your day to day life? Perhaps it’s an item that men nowadays steer clear of, apart from on special occasions?

I like to think that the waistcoat can be a staple in any man’s wardrobe, as it not only helps elevate any outfit, but bridges the gap between casual and formal. But how can you start using this item in your everyday life?

Consider the fabric

Fabric is a key element in helping make a waistcoat turn from highly formal, to more casual and approachable. Often, we only look at the matching suit pieces when it comes to a waistcoat, but there are so many other options in terms of colour, fabric, and style out there to help create a more relaxed feel to your outfit. If you take a brightly coloured waistcoat, with a suit jacket, it can make your outfit feel brighter and filled with personality.

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Other excellent options for helping make the waistcoat more approachable are knit or tweed, as well as patterned styles or more muted tones to help make the waistcoat more versatile within your wardrobe.

The shirt can make a huge difference

If you’re looking at your whole ensemble, you may not be thinking about how the shirt you wear under your waistcoat can completely change the way your waistcoat looks on you. I have seen some excellent examples of dressing down the waistcoat with a fun shirt. I love the idea of mixing a denim shirt under an open waistcoat, as below, which helps to upscale the shirt, but keep the whole look more laid back.

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The same goes for a patterned shirt, bringing some personality to your outfit with florals, stripes, or an unexpected pattern to help elevate the whole look!

The trousers

As with the shirt, your trousers can make a big difference to the way in which you dress your waistcoat. If you are going for the formal look, you can’t go wrong with a pair of suit trousers, perfectly tailored to fit you. However, you can dress down the outfit with a pair of slacks or jeans, where the waistcoat helps to ensure your look is not too casual! I love the idea of having a waistcoat with jeans and trainers, bringing a gentleman’s look up to just the right level of formality to work for meetings with long-term clients, and casual enough for drinks with friends. Another great way to help dress down the suited and booted look, is to use a different colour for your suit trousers, perhaps a lighter colour to the waistcoat.

The shoes

Finally, another part of the outfit which can be overseen is the shoes! Whether it’s for the wedding crew, or for yourself on a day out and about, your shoes can totally transform the look of your outfit. Consider dress shoes for totally upgrading your outfit to a fully formal style, but then changing to a brown boot or even trainers, and you have completely transformed the style of the look, helping to dress down your look.

I hope this has shown you the great versatility that the waistcoat can have, and helps to inspire you to perhaps add one (or maybe a few!) to your staple wardrobe, helping you to dress up or down to suit any occasion, whilst truly transforming your look!

If you are wondering how to take your first steps into using this key item, or would like assistance in how to help you upgrade your wardrobe, I would love to help, with my personal styling consultations or personal shopping service, to give you the confidence to dress comfortably and with your true self.