I put on one of my three piece custom suits today. I don’t regularly wear a vest, but on certain days, the extra layer sure is a welcome addition. On days that are cold (like today where I live), it provides an extra layer of warmth. On days that are hot, a vest allows the wearer to take off the jacket – to be more comfortable – while still maintaining a noticeably finished appearance, as seen on Mr. Magnana in the picture above. Or, as Alex H. from Houston put it, “a vest can be that extra special piece for events and occasions where one wants to turn the volume up in terms of style and formality.”
Here is Jim Urda from California “Keeping it strong!” in his new three piece suit made from Holland & Sherry Cape Horn cloth, with a peak lapel on the jacket, slanted pockets, and vest with lapels – a look that takes no prisoners.
All of my vests have at least two pockets (sometimes four), which come in handy from time to time. As I have suggested with regard to a ticket or cash pocket on a jacket, the pockets on a tailored vest are an excellent place to keep an extra train ticket (loaded with proper fare), a bit of cash or an extra business card.
Now, I would be the first to tell you that there isn’t a mad rush out there of professional men deciding to wear three piece suits. They are about as rare as a handwritten thank you note, which, come to think of it, may be reason enough to wear a vest…to stand apart from the crowd and get some attention. Herb M. from Louisville reminded me that one of the most welcome benefits that a vest provides is its “slenderizing” effect. Because the vest continues up from the pant in one visually continuous line, it removes the horizontal break of the shirt/belt/trouser line. Truth is, I get the most compliments about my appearance on days when I wear a vest. Especially from attractive, stylish, insightful and intelligent women! But I digress.
While I am advocating three-piece suits, one may also want to consider what is referred to by tailors and clothiers as the “odd” vest. That is, a vest that is not made from the same cloth as the jacket and pant, but which may complement the outfit. The odd vest then is an accessory item that, when properly used in either a harmonizing or contrasting fabric, adds a splash of color and creativity and another layer of interest to a more relaxed suit or sport outfit.
Tom James client Rob Borella, from Pittsburgh, PA says, “My TJ sales rep pitched to me the idea of vests coming back into style several years ago. I gave it a try, starting with a traditional matching fabric, and lining back. I learned to love the flexibility of wearing the vest essentially as a waistcoat, and only adding the suit coat for formal public events. Over the years, I quickly learned to prefer the full fabric back, with a slight contrast to the suit fabric, which provides flexibility and ‘mix and match’ options based on my wardrobe. Nowadays, it seems everyone is wearing vests with their suits, but they often leave out an important feature—add a lapel to the vest. The lapel makes the waistcoat look complete, and is very comfortable and fashionable. I appreciate my rep keeping me well ahead of the trends!”
While Mr. Borella likes lapels on his vests, Jonathan K. from Chicago suggests that the best vest model is the five-button, pointed bottom, no lapel, with the back being made from the same cloth as the front. Keep it clean! If you plan to wear the vest without the jacket a fair amount, the “same cloth” back without the adjustable belt is the way to go. There are a variety of vest styles and options to consider. Some come to a point at the bottom, while others are straight. Be sure to consult with your personal clothier to determine what will work best for you and give it try.
As a final note, Alan M. from Washington D. C. suggests that those who travel frequently, especially both north and south, will find another very practical virtue to a three-piece suit. The same suit worn in London with a vest would be equally as comfortable without the vest in Rome. The same could be said for Seattle to Los Angeles and New York to Miami.
We have heard it said and have experienced the truth that, in many cases and for a variety of reasons, “two are better than one.” In the case of your next custom suit , it may be that “three are better than two.”