Three-Piece Suit Style

In an odd footnote to fashion, most waistcoats are designed with the understanding that the bottom button will be left undone. There is no practical reason for this. The most popular explanation is that Edward VII of the United Kingdom began appearing in public with his bottom button undone, probably for comfort, and imitators picked the habit up until it became standard. There is nothing wrong with leaving the bottom button fastened, but it may cause bunching if the vest was tailored with the expectation that it would be left undone.

The formality of a three-piece suit is such that it requires a necktie. Since only a few inches of the tie are visible, the knot should be tied with extra care. Particularly bulky ties (knits especially) may create a bulge under the front of the vest, and should be avoided. The end of the tie should not stick out from under the bottom of the waistcoat. If a tie is a good match but a touch too long, it can always be tucked into the trousers.

It is possible to wear a vested suit with a waistcoat that does not match the jacket and trousers. This is even less common than the usual matched approach and does bring the formality of the outfit down somewhat, but it can make for a very elegant appearance if the colors are chosen carefully. Most suits with contrasting waistcoats are usually done in soft tones to avoid becoming too garish. Dark green vests pair well with brown men suits, or brown vests can be worn with navy jackets, and so on. So long as the colors are distinct enough to contrast but not so bright as to seem overstated an unmatched waistcoat is acceptable and even attractive (though still less formal than matched). Avoid the brightly-colored vests that rental outlets sometimes suggest for formal dress — these are essentially a novelty, and have no place in any man’s regular wardrobe.

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