Samuel Pepys, the diarist, wrote in 7th October 1666 that “the King hath yesterday in council declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes which he will never alter. It will be a vest, I know not well how”. This royal proclamation is the first mention of a waistcoat. Pepys records ‘vest’ as the original term.
The reason for the term ‘waistcoat’ was to denote the termination at the waist, whereas, at the time, men’s formal coats went well below the waist as frock or morning coats.
Originally, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the fashion in waistcoat was for highly ornate items in bright colours, but this gradually gave way to a much more informal and even puritanical style in the late 1700s and into the 19th century.
Partly this was due to the international influence of the distinctly anti-aristocratic French Revolution in 1789.
Contemporary - Current Times
There are many ways to design a waistcoat, each design giving it a different style and vibes.
1) Single or Double breasted?
2) How many buttons? This is will determine how deep the gauge (the height from your neck to the top of your waistcoat).
3) Fabrics? Suit fabric or contrast? Formal or Informal?
4) Flat or with Lapel? If lapel, Notch, Peak or Shawl?
Lastly, we have the creative designed waistcoat that does not follow the single or double standard button placements.
Be creative, fun and free in designing your waistcoats! Cheers everybody!