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A question about vests

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I just bought a 3-piece suit. Part of the reason I bought the suit was so I could wear the vest on it's own. Normally, vests have a silk back, but when I vest is worn by itself, I wasn't sure this would look good, so I got the back of the vest made with the same material as the rest of the suit. I think this looks a lot better.

What are your thoughts? Does wearing a vest with a silk back on its own look fine? Or does it just look like you're missing your jacket?
post #2 of 19
I agree with you. Wearing a vest with a silk back by itself is like wearing an orphaned suit jacket as a sport coat. Odd vests or a vest that you want to wear that way should have a fabric back that is not silk.
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bradford View Post

I agree with you. Wearing a vest with a silk back by itself is like wearing an orphaned suit jacket as a sport coat. Odd vests or a vest that you want to wear that way should have a fabric back that is not silk.

Absolutely right! Some waistcoats have a fabric back that is the same as in front (I have two of them) but they are not easy to find. Both mine came from eBay, and one of those was part of a suit (it has a back adjuster). If warmth is one of the reasons for wearing a waistcoat, that is another reason for needing a cloth back.
post #4 of 19

Good for you. The vest should be constructed in the same fabric as the suit. 

 

post #5 of 19
Traditionally the silk (more likely to be Bemberg on any modern vest) back would not be seen, and a self back would be best if the waistcoat was to be worn without a coat. These days though it is almost impossible to find a waistcoat with a self back, and I see people wearing lining-backed waistcoats without a coat all the time, nobody who isn't a member of StyleForum will know that there is anything wrong with this.

Personally I prefer a self back, so would go with that whether I was planning to wear it without a coat or not.
post #6 of 19
It's an issue of style origins.

Suit vests had a smooth back of satin, cupro, etc. so that they would slide smoothly against the lining of the suit coat. This also reduced warmth and bulk. Note that some pique formal vests are even backless; they fasten with straps.

Vests with self backs were meant to be worn by men who did not wear suit coats, men who needed the bulk and warmth. These were laborers, farmers and hunters. So many regions and nations have rural/folk/sporting styles of dress that include self-backed vests. Among the iGent-friendly parts of the world, Ireland turns out very nice tweed vests of this kind.

But if one does not want to dip ones toe in the style stream of Country Gentlemen, go with a satin or cupro backed vest. Once, yes, it was not meant to be seen in public. But now it is.
post #7 of 19
I have a few orphaned suit vests that I like to mix in with suits, for example a gray suit with a blue vest, etc.

I occasionally wear the vest by itself. Although the intention of the silk back is to keep the thickness of the vest to a minimum and its not the most attractive thing in the world, I like to wear a vest so I do it anyway.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the great information (including a history lesson!). I think I'm going to stick with self backs, as I don't actually wear the vest with the suit (too formal for my work), but the vest works great on its own.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mack11211 View Post

But if one does not want to dip ones toe in the style stream of Country Gentlemen, go with a satin or cupro backed vest. Once, yes, it was not meant to be seen in public. But now it is.

 

Exactly. Things change. There are many things that had a functional origin that is lost or has been adapted to fit changes in taste and practice.

post #10 of 19
Last note on vests: As vests evolve from a semi-undergarment to one that is worn as an outerlayer, it's styles change as well.

As a result, there are now many more choices for the the backing than the binary choice of lining/facing.

For example, I have a vest from Jon Ashe that I bought last year.

The front is in a washed brown wool herringbone. The lining of the front is in purple cupro.

The lining of the back is brown and white striped shirting. The back is brown cotton moleskin.

So each of the four areas was handled differently, but good design produced a happy combination.
post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by idfnl View Post

I have a few orphaned suit vests that I like to mix in with suits, for example a gray suit with a blue vest, etc.
I occasionally wear the vest by itself. Although the intention of the silk back is to keep the thickness of the vest to a minimum and its not the most attractive thing in the world, I like to wear a vest so I do it anyway.


I do this as well on occasion, but as others have mentioned without the jacket I tend to stay away from silk-backed vests as an over-layer.  I have quite a few heavier herringbone or houndsooth vests that serve as a great compliment to many of my shirts.  I love accenting with a vest.  As a teacher in an elementary setting it is super convenient and it also adds a unique chic quality.  The pockets offering added storage without filling up my pants pockets which I absolute hate.  The other added benefit is my vest protects my tie from scissors, paper-cutters, wet glues and other assortments that I encounter in my day-to-day.

post #12 of 19

Hey guys, I've been reading along the forum for quite a while now and I have read some great tips and hints. The reason why I'm pulling this thread up is that I'm just about to get another tailored suit. And this time - what I haven't been doing for years - I'd like to get a three piece suit.

 

I'm however uncertain about the back of the waistcoat. Yes, traditionally a Gentleman shouldn't put his jacket off. Nevertheless, that's just not office reality. Therefore there will likely be some situations in which I'll be wearing the waistcoat alone with the trousers. Any suggestions regarding the back? Go for the classic satin back, because it is leightweight, doesn't add too much thickness and it's smooth and the jacket will hang and drape nicely? Or look for something which might be a little more eye-pleasing than the shiny back, when worn without the jacket?

 

Do you maybe even have some suggestion regarding a material, which would work nicely in both situations?

 

Best regards!

post #13 of 19
A suit vest should have a satin back, usually the same as the coat lining.

Fabric backs are heavier, warmer and harder to move in. You usually see them on more rustic vests worn as outerwear.
post #14 of 19
Thanks, Mack11211. I generally know about this rule. I was just wondering, as it has been pointed out before that a satin back was originally not intended to be worn without a jacket or to be seen.

That's why I'm asking for your suggestions for a vest, that will likely be worn without the jacket from time to time. Maybe I'll just find something just not as shiny as satin. Or I just forget about it and pull of the satin back. wink.gif
post #15 of 19
I started wearing cardigans and sweatervests last year. I liked the idea of having additional pockets, but without the additional bulk or weight of a suit. I never really liked the satin backed vests I had seen in stores, I do not think they look as professional when worn alone. I started making vests with super 120 suiting as a shell and a light silk lining. In my opinion they look very nice and decently professional vs formal.
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