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SINGLE BREASTED VS DOUBLE BREASTED WAISTCOATS
Waistcoats have enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in popularity recently due to the revival of classic menswear looks with an updated twist. Popping a waistcoat over a grandad shirt and rounding the look off with jeans and a pair of brogues swiftly channels one of the most dapper street trends around. And donning a waistcoat with a formal wedding suit adds an instant note of elegance worthy of the occasion.
When it comes to making a choice, it may be useful to make a distinction between the two first:
“Single-breasted waistcoats have a single row of buttons down the front, and the waistcoat flaps only overlap enough to permit buttoning. A double-breasted waistcoat has two rows of buttons, and the front overlaps sufficiently to allow both flaps to be attached to the opposite row of buttons”
Forget Me Not Linen Double Breasted Waistcoat and a Jade Single Breasted Linen Waistcoat
When deciding which is best for you, often it is simply a matter of personal taste - which one do you prefer the look of? Generally the more popular style is the single-breasted style, simply because it is considered more everyday wear and the less formal of the two. However, if you want to make a statement or stand out from the crowd, the double-breasted may be the one for you, as they aren’t commonly seen on your average day about town.
Buttons are important when achieving formal greatness.
The most notable difference between the two is the way the waistcoat flaps overlap and are secured by the buttons. The double-breasted creates a slightly different V on the waistcoat, since one side sweeps lower than the other, instead of meeting in the middle like in single-breasted varieties. This creates a less symmetrical look, but many consider it to be a cleaner one, since there is less of a cluster of buttons.
There is slight controversy as to which style suits which build. The general idea is that the double-breasted is good for a tall and medium to large build, since the overlap can help cover the waistline and encourage a slimmer appearance. However, anyone can wear a double-breasted jacket, so long as they get it tailored to the waist.
If you are planning on wearing a patterned waistcoat then go for single breasted. A double breasted waistcoat is already unusual enough in itself, and so should be worn in general in more plain tones and styles.
Perhaps the best thing about waistcoats, second only to the instant debonair sharpness they bring to an outfit, is their versatility. Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most from the look:
- Layer it up: As opposed to masking your style with a heavy duty coat, think creatively about your style during the autumn/winter months. Waistcoats, worn under a thicker day coat or blazer, are a style saviour that can easily be offset by skinny jeans or chinos, a shirt and a tie.
- More than a feeling: Just like colours, textures can complement or clash with each other. Couple textures that have a similar feel together - team denim with tweed, and corduroy and tweed with wool for look that’s on point, for example chambray shirts can be worn with jeans and a tweed waistcoat with great effect.
- Age of legends: Waistcoats are great for adding a sartorial angle to your look, but can also help achieve a rebellious, more rough-and-ready look. Think of the movie Lawless with its matching waistcoats and trousers, a contrasting smart shirt rolled at the cuffs and tie. Simply slick back your hair for an attitudinal twist on a classic look.
So, to conclude:
Considered more everyday wear than double, but also appropriate for work and evenings, and popular for business meetings. Can be worn casually or smart and on any build, but more popular for the slimmer builds.
Considered slightly more formal and more commonly worn for smarter occasions such as weddings, funerals and white tie social events (although single breasted would also be suitable for all these). Can be worn on any build, but can create a slimmer shape on larger builds.
However there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to waistcoats, or fashion in general. At the end of the day, it’s whatever style you prefer for yourself!