Dressing for the Occasion: How to Properly Wear a Waistcoat

How to Properly Wear a Waistcoat

The simple yet elegant men’s waistcoat is straightforward formalwear to the untrained eye. However, in the hands of a professional trendsetter, the simple issue of choosing a double-breasted over a single-breasted waistcoat can pose a long list of rules and questions in the world of formalwear.


A Not-so-Simple Difference

Regardless of whether you’re an old-school follower of the traditional form of wearing a waistcoat, or whether you’re looking to incorporate the waistcoat with more modern trends, wearing a waistcoat is simply a matter of embracing the clothing’s tradition and formality.

In this article, we’ll give you a four-step guide on how to look sharp in a waistcoat:


1. Recognizing build preference


Differentiating one over the other is a matter of specific detail. A single-breasted waistcoat sports one row of buttons down the front, with the addition of a small overlap for fastening. The simple yet elegant design is recognized as the more casual pick between the two.


The double-breasted variant has two rows of buttons, the cloth overlapping to allow both flaps to attach to the opposite row of buttons. Some gentlemen prefer this balanced look as it is the formal of the two, but the reality of compatibility is a lot about a person’s build.


People who have taller, medium builds prefer the double-breasted variant since it fits seamlessly with broader shoulders and narrow waists. On the other hand, people who have a compact form and a slim frame are better suited to the single-breasted waistcoat.


2. Observing traditional rules


As a general rule, for all waistcoats and jackets, never fasten the bottom-most button. The mystery surrounding this fashion rule traces back to King Edward VII, and includes a statement about the king’s rather round build. However, for more practical reasons, the last button is left undone so that you can sit comfortably and stand without frequently fastening and unfastening your coat.


A waistcoat should end just above your trousers’ waistband, tucking your dress shirt underneath neatly. You can use the back fastener to adjust the fit around your waist to a comfortable level of tightness. You should remember that your coat should not feel loose or tight by finding the perfect balance when following the line of your physique.


3. Dressing for the occasion


If you’re attending a wedding, the option to choose single or double-breasted depends on the invite and your role in the event. If the invite indicates morning dress, either waistcoat variant is fine, but your look needs to have contrasting colors to avoid appearing as if you’ve just stepped out of a funeral.


In white tie receptions, the general ruling is that waistcoats should be white. If you’re attending any other formal to semi-formal event that doesn’t have any specific rules, you’re allowed to go wild in your clothing options.


An excellent match for a single-breasted suit is a double-breasted waistcoat to sport a sleek yet casual look. If your choice for the event is a single-breasted waistcoat under a double-breasted jacket, then you need to be mindful of matching your proportions.


4. Experimenting based on your personality


Though the rules above stand for the general rules in wearing a waistcoat, the potential for mixing and matching clothing options are almost endless. Some traditional folk prefer the tried and tested three-piece suit for a uniform look. Still, bolder trendsetters experiment in different tones and shades to exercise their creativity and personality.




Exercising your creativity is the best way to settle on your vision for an outfit. Remember that fashion is a matter of being comfortable and confident in your own clothing. Your local bespoke tailor in Bangkok can help you with dressing for your special occasion!


If you’re looking for personalized formal wear, our team of bespoke tailors in Bangkok can provide you with a single or double-breasted waistcoat that fits your personality!



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