The Logical Waistcoat Theory (Part Two)

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(The first part of this posting (on Wednesday) bemoaned the fact that the suit had become impractical in most offices, with the jacket rarely worn. It is understandable, but a shame.)

Here’s my solution. It’s logical and practical; though obviously that doesn’t mean anyone will take it up.

The key is the waistcoat. Men don’t wear suit jackets because there’s no need in an air-conditioned office; the waistcoat will not make you too hot. Men don’t wear suit jackets because it can be uncomfortable to work in at a computer; the waistcoat does not restrict you. A man without his suit jacket can look scruffy if his shirt becomes untucked; the waistcoat keeps it hidden. Without his suit jacket a man’s tie can look untidy; the waistcoat keeps it buttoned up and prim. It’s hard to fault the logic.

So basic office attire could be a two-piece suit of waistcoat and trousers. A man can then wear any weight of coat over it when he goes outside. There is no need to put on both a jacket and coat (if cold), or leave the jacket on the back of your chair all day long (if hot).

Wearing waistcoat and trousers is not quite as flattering as a jacket. But it does lengthen the figure in a similar way, maintaining that long line of smart dark wool. Pinstripes can still be employed to add slenderness, in the same way as a suit (it is hard to see this working with trousers and shirt).

And for those who like to get involved with their suits, to understand tailoring and aspire to a bespoke lifestyle, waistcoats offer much. Many tailors will tell you that a waistcoat is one of the hardest things to make, a summit of the craft. It needs to both fit snugly to the body and remain flexible. It is probably harder to find a well-fitting waistcoat than a well-fitting jacket off the peg. Plus, Tom Ford loves them.

There are of course other solutions to the dilemma I posed. If your shirt has long enough tails and fits close to your waist it is unlikely to become untucked. Your tie could be prevented from flapping by a tie clip. But I do think the waistcoat solution has advantages, as it retains the smartness of a suit and remains within the menswear tradition.

So, wear a two-piece suit with a difference to work tomorrow. If anyone asks why just point them in the direction of this blog.

I will if you will.


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.