Couture Comment: Waistcoats are not just for Gentlemen!

I have been admiring the resurgence of the three-piece suit for gents, the impeccable tailoring, cut of the cloth.

There is one item of clothing in this attire that now has its own status, that is the gentleman’s waistcoat, for which there are also rules of etiquette. Did you know that on a man’s waistcoat the bottom button is always left undone? There are a few theories and stories as to why; however the most sensible one would be for comfort when sitting down and to avoid stress in the garment itself.

Whereas men’s waistcoats tend to follow traditional tailoring in terms of style, women’s tailored waistcoats (also known as vests) can vary in design and technique. The ability of this subtle item of clothing to provide not only comfort, warmth and style is pretty clever as a wardrobe staple, especially when worn at the races as the weather turns from heat-wave to chilly!

I was commissioned recently to design and make a women’s waistcoat, the brief: to be worn over a lightweight jumper or t-shirt top, sophisticated, keeps the body warm, with some form of scarf to keep the neck warm. It will be worn with tailored trousers, or a skirt and is required to easily transition from day to evening.

My first thought was the fabric, patterned wool tweed: this works beautifully as the wool fabric insulates the body. The patterning of the tweed adds an extra dimension of interest; the colours in the tweed mix lend themselves to a variety of other solid colours being paired with it.

Now for the scarf detail, that will also provide warmth to the neck coupled with sophistication: faux fur ticks both boxes; this is also in line with my personal and business ethos of not using real animal fur in any of my garments.

A women’s waistcoat depending on the design can easily transform ‘a look’, moving effortlessly from day to evening, now that’s what I call a wardrobe staple, and it’s not just for the gentlemen!

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