Contrasting Waistcoats – Fashion Tips

contrasting waistcoat

There are many rules to dressing well, one of them is making sure that you match. Another rule is to make sure you do not match. Whichever you choose to follow, I won’t judge you. The rules of fashion are there to be broken – or at least bent a bit. Wearing the right suit, for the right event is a must. Equally so are waistcoats. Showing up to a board meeting in a navy pin-stripe suit and a grey checked waistcoat might not be a good idea. It’s probably best to stick to the waistcoat that matches the suit for all formal events/meetings.

matching waistcoats

In every other circumstance out of the boardroom, wearing a contrasting waistcoat will work wonders.

The History Of The Waistcoat

The history of the waistcoat is quite boring, some English King (Charles II) decided that men were not dressing correctly in the monarchy. He decided in 1666 that all men must wear a vest. It started off as a colourful royal vest and then eventually ended up over the years as a really formal waistcoat. When they became formal, they lost their colour and generally just became black or navy.

Matching Waistcoats

Up until recently, it was unheard of to wear a waistcoat that didn’t match your suit to the T. It would have been considered scruffy. Matching your waistcoat is still very important in this day and age. If you’re attending something formal, then it’s polite to match your waistcoat. It’s a way of subtly looking head and shoulders above all those two piece wearing people without making it look like you tried too hard. Here are some great examples of men wearing waistcoats as they we intended to be worn – matching.

matching waistcoat

Contrasting Waistcoats

Thankfully for us, times have changed and people now use fashion to express themselves. Everywhere you go, every Instagram page you visit, you see people breaking fashion rules all the time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it looks horrible, live and learn. Gone are the days of plain waistcoats. Tailors are now expressing themselves with massive lapeled waistcoats and double breasted buttons. The outcome: pure beauty.

I, like most, can’t afford to pay £250 for a waistcoat. Instead of me buying expensive double breasted waistcoats or amazingly crafted checked waistcoats, I keep it simple. I buy a black three piece suit, a blue three piece suit and a grey three piece suit. Then I simply mix and match them as I wish. This ALWAYS results in a ton of compliments by shocked colleagues and friends who consider me as some fashion innovator. The problem is they only see the mannequins in the store windows and they see movies of wall street actors in the fully matching three piece suits. When they see something in contrast to that, it’s overwhelming. Thankfully in a good way.

contrasting waistcoat cover

Do You Know Your Shirt Collar Styles?

different types of shirts

When it comes to buying a shirt, it’s not just about picking up the first white shirt you see or looking for the cheapest packet of three shirts. Now I’m not saying you should spend tons of money on a shirt but you just can’t buy shirts for less than £20. Some places like Marks & Spencer sell shirts for £35 to £45, which is normal for most people but I’d never pay that much. You can get great shirts for £20 from TM Lewin, Moss Bro’s & Next.

It’s not just price you need to look at when shopping around for a shirt, you need a whole bunch of things. You need to consider; the fit of the shirt, how the shirt cuffs are going to be, the colour of the shirt, the patterns on the shirt and what type of collar.

The Different Types Of Collars

different types of shirts

The Cutaway collar

This is a classic style perfect for business, whether you’ve got a day catching up in the office, or an important presentation to deliver. The cut away collar leaves a large space for a tie to be knotted into, mirroring the line of your shoulders. This is perfect for traditional ties to be worn in a Windsor Knot, giving ample room for that perfect triangular fold and wrap.

The Button Down Collar

The button down collar has evolved over time, with its heritage being in workwear as a practical solution to preventing the dreaded curled up collar. You now find button down collars more commonly in social environments. They’re perfect to wear teamed with a v-neck sweater or cardigan since the buttons help to control the collar, drawing the lines of the outer garment and shirt together. T.M. Lewin have recently started to bring the button down collar back into a more formal environment, applying the detail to shirts with a classic semi-cut away collar. This works well when coupled with a slim tie, tie clip and pocket square – adding great features to your look.

The Contrast Collar

Up until a few years ago, when you saw a contrast collar on a shirt (usually a white collar with a plain blue or pink shirt body), you’d think; 1980’s yuppies like in the picture above. This style has turned full circle since then and is now a prominent feature in many modern day shirtmakers collections. We’d always suggest wearing a tie with this type of collar, helping to draw the contrasting colours together, using the collar as the focal point.

The Round Collar

The round collar has been making a return to both work and social environments in a big way for the past couple of years. The collar itself will be rounded at the tips creating a less formal image, perfect for work Christmas parties and corporate entertainment. Round collars look great when they carry contrast to the shirt body, helping to accentuate the features of the collar. You can combine this style with a slim knitted tie and a plain silver tie clip to complete the look.

The Collar Pin

The pin is another way to add detail to your image. Shirts with collar pins will have a fairly tight area in which to slot a tie, so make sure you pick out a slim or skinny tie. Collar pin shirts don’t always have to be formal, however. A slim fit shirt buttoned up to the top and finished with a pin can look great with a pair of dark slim fit jeans and a well-tailored jacket for the party season.

The Wingtip

Form is temporary, class is permanent, and that can certainly be said of the wingtip. The collar is tunic in style with triangular tips placed at the fastening ends. This style of shirt has stood the test of time – team it with a sharp dinner suit and black bow tie for that James Bond appearance. If you want to look even cooler, untie your tie, let it drape around your neck, and unbutton your top button. How did you want that Martini again sir?

If you are looking to get a shirt then I will always recommend TM Lewin, they look expensive, some things are expensive in there but ultimately they are a cheap store with top quality stuff. My absolute favourite for shirts of different styles.

different types of shirts