sleeveless garment for the upper body, usually worn over a shirt and below a coat; it covers the back, shoulders and bust

A waistcoat (known as a vest in the United States) is a sleeveless upper-body garment. It is worn over a dress shirt and necktie, and below a coat as a part of most men's formal wear. It is the third piece of the three-piece male suit.[1]

A traditional waistcoat, to be worn with a two-piece suit or separate jacket and trousers.
French waistcoat in silk, circa 1750, LACMA.

The waistcoat has quite a long history, going back to King Charles II. It was derived from the Persian vests seen by English visitors to the court of Shah Abbas.

As an item of clothing, the waistcoat has the advantage that if the jacket is taken off indoors, the outfit still keeps a degree of formality.

References change

  1. Gavenas, Mary Lisa (2008). Encyclopedia of Menswear. New York: Fairchild. p. 379. ISBN 978-1-56367-465-5.
Man's court coat and waistcoat, 1800