A man wearing a waistcoat in a store surrounded by waistcoats on hangers

How to Wear This Seasons Must-Have: The Waistcoat

The Southgate effect is in full swing. Here’s everything you need to know to kick this season’s must-have look out of the park!

While we don’t yet know about football, sideline sartorial sensation Gareth Southgate has officially bought the waistcoat home. The so-called Southgate effect is sweeping the nation, with us all falling head over heels for this sharp, tailored look. If you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have seen it — we’re talking the classy combination of fitted navy blue waistcoat, shirt and tie. England manager Southgate first donned this classic look at the England versus Tunisia game and it’s become his staple look throughout the World Cup.

The humble waistcoat has taken on a life of its own. Celebrated as a lucky mascot, it’s been the source of endless World Cup memes. A replica of Southgate’s signature waistcoat was even hoisted above Warwick castle, fluttering in the wind at full mast as a sign of the boys bringing it home for England. With M&S reports revealing that waistcoat sales are up by 35%, it’s fair to say that the waistcoat is having a bit of a fashion moment. Where, before, avid fans emulated their on-pitch heroes with replica shirts, people are now buying waistcoats. Has Southgate beckoned us into a new era of football-friendly formal wear? We certainly hope so.

If you’re looking to score with the Southgate look or want to join the ranks of fellow waistcoat-wearers David Beckham, Tom Hardy and David Gandy, then we’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll show you how to make a well-groomed and elegant sartorial statement with this season’s champion look.

Get the Fit Right

Waistcoats were originally designed to be the male version of the corset. It was all about cinching in the waist and emphasising the physique. Although, today, waistcoats are less restrictive and with a looser fit, they have the same effect. Slimming your build and elongating your frame: what more could we ask for from an item of clothing? No wonder it’s so popular amongst the fashion-savvy.

To get that streamlined silhouette, it is crucial to consider the fit. A baggy waistcoat can make you look boxy and frumpy. On the flip side, a waistcoat that’s too tight will make you look like an overstuffed sausage, bulging out at the sides — not a good a look.

A waistcoat should fit close to the body, skimming the torso without constricting it. A good way to test whether you’re edging towards the sausage look is to check the back. If your waistcoat is too tight, there will be wrinkles and creases as the fabric stretches. All you need do is loosen the adjusters and breathe out. A waistcoat should also cover the whole of your shirt and reach down to the waistband of your trousers. The arm holes should be big enough to allow full range of movement and the neck should sit at the back of the shirt collar.

When the neck of your waistcoat is perfectly positioned at the back of your shirt, not only will it look great, but it will also help to keep everything in place.

Get the Fabric Right

Just as with a good suit, the key to a great waistcoat is in the fabric. With thousands of options out there, you can experiment with different textures, patterns and colours. As a general rule, a cotton or worsted wool waistcoat is better suited to formal wear. Our deep navy waistcoat is exquisitely handcrafted by artisan tailors to give you that Southgate, modern slim fit. It’s the perfect choice for times when you need to look a little more dapper —  think weddings and formal events.

For something a little more casual, tweed is a great shout. Our dark brown herringbone tweed waistcoat will elevate a more laid-back look. The timeless design pays homage to sartorial days passed: when fashion was all about making statements. Our advice? Be wary of poor-quality polyester waistcoats that have a shiny veneer, that is, of course, unless you’re going for the cheap magician look.

 Keep It Simple

A waistcoat should demonstrate elegance and class, so keep it simple. A waistcoat doesn’t need accessorising. Your pins and pocket watches, however debonaire, will only complicate this streamlined look. The modern-day waistcoat has come a long way from the professorial vibes of Victorian fashion and your styling should reflect that.

On the note of simplicity, also try to keep the colours classic. Bold patterns in garish colours will have you looking more children’s clown than gentleman dandy. Our grey Houndstooth tweed waistcoat will give your look a flair of character without compromising its simplicity and sophisticated charm.

Button It Up

What’s the number one rule when wearing a waistcoat? Never leave it unbuttoned. The whole point is to cinch in your torso and emphasise your silhouette, after all. Unless your planning on channelling your inner 90’s Peter Andre and forgoing a shirt — or trousers — a billowing waistcoat is never a good look. To wear a waistcoat well, you need to button up. There’s just one exception to this rule: the last button. Leaving the bottom button undone is no fashion faux-pas and, as it increases your range of movement, it’s okay with us.

Another key question surrounding buttons is whether to opt for single-breasted or double-breasted. Personally, we love both and each style has its own time and place. A single-breasted waistcoat has just one row of buttons and is the more contemporary choice. Often forgoing lapels, the single-breasted waistcoat delivers a sleeker look and is perfect for everyday wear and formal affairs alike. A double-breasted waistcoat has two rows of buttons and is the more traditional of the two. If you’re attending an event with a strict dress code, double-breasted is best.

The Three-Piece Suit

Hands down, the most classic way to rock your waistcoat is as part of your three-piece ensemble. With a jacket, waistcoat and trousers, you really can’t go wrong. It’s been a staple of men’s formal wear since its invention in the 19th century and is the epitome of style, class and formality. No discerning gent’s wardrobe is complete without a well-tailored three-piece suit.

There are two things to remember when styling your three-piece suit. The first is to keep the colours and patterns consistent. Your waistcoat should be the same colour and design as, or, at the very least, a close match to, your suit jacket. The whole point is to create continuity in your outfit. Buying your waistcoat as part of a set is the best way to go. We have a huge range of three-piece suits that guarantee your outfit will be coherent. The second is to never button up your jacket. Why bother donning a beautiful waistcoat if you’re going to hide it beneath a jacket?

The Two-Piece Suit

If you really want to channel the ‘Southgate effect’ in its entirety, ditch the jacket and let your waistcoat take centre stage. When we think of a two-piece suit, we typically think of trousers and a jacket — the old waistcoat is flung to the side. Well, that’s no longer the case. Adding a waistcoat to your suit trousers makes a bold fashion statement. Without the jacket, you also aren’t limited to coordinating your outfit with its design, giving you more room to get creative with colour and pattern. Our maroon Barleycorn tweed waistcoat adds a bold dash of colour and character to your look and is perfect as part of a three-piece or two-piece.

To add another look to your repertoire, try rocking a waistcoat with jeans or chinos. A tweed waistcoat will add a rustic flair to your casual look and pairs well with denim. Just make sure you keep your shirt tucked in — waistcoats with shirts bulging beneath them are reminiscent of schoolboys in poorly fitted uniforms — and you’ve come a long way since that.

Now you know the rules of wearing a waistcoat, all that’s left to do is to get one of your own. Browse our full collection of exquisite waistcoats today and jump on the Southgate bandwagon!

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