Waistcoats have been a mainstay of men’s fashion since they were formally recognised as a garment in 1666. They actually pre-date the suit, and they’re a practical, stylish addition to any smart, casual or formal outfit. However, for many men, they’re items of clothing only to be worn for the most formal of occasions. We’re here to dispel that myth, and to introduce you to the world of waistcoats and how to wear them.

In a casual setting, waistcoats can work very well. They look great paired with well-fitting jeans, a plain, good quality t-shirt, a long coat, and boots. If this is your first foray into waistcoat wearing, keep the colour and style simple; opting for a tan or brown corduroy, or even tweed. Single breasted waistcoats work brilliantly in this capacity, and you can even ditch the coat for a casual summer look. This look is set off perfectly with a pair of casual boots like the Barker Lambourn and rolled up jeans – effortlessly stylish and right on trend.

For occasions, the choice is yours. Both single and double-breasted waistcoats can be worn, with the latter being slightly more formal. These are both available in a huge range of cotton, tweed, and silk options. Cotton tends to fare better with lighter, summery suits, and is available in a large range of colours and patterns. Tweed tends to work better with heavier, autumnal suits; which look great in shades of tan, grey and brown, paired with a rustic tweed bow tie. Silk is usually reserved for the most formal of occasions; black tie dinners and weddings. The choice is yours – but a waistcoat makes a great addition to occasion wear, allowing you to look smart all day, without having to wear a jacket at all times!

In a formal or business setting, waistcoats are also a great addition. They really pull a suit together, and a well-fitted waistcoat can be flattering no matter your build. In a business setting, it’s perhaps wise to stick to slightly more muted colours, matching the colour of your waistcoat to the colour of your suit. However, if you want to show a real individual flair, it’s also acceptable to mix it up and choose a waistcoat in a contrasting colour. A dark blue suit can be set off well by a deep red waistcoat, and a light blue suit looks great paired with a pale tan waistcoat. Try out colour combinations to see which suits you best – any business look pairs well with a smart pair of brogues. For traditionalists, we love the Barker Hampstead; stylish and comfortable, it’s the perfect brogue for business. And for the man who likes his footwear to speak for itself, it has to be the Barker Haig in cedar calf leather, with blue suede panels.

Waistcoats are truly a great addition to any wardrobe, and we hope we’ve inspired you to hit the shops in search of your perfect waistcoat!