Maximize the elegance of a simple black vest by pairing it with matching trousers and a perfectly cut white shirt. Add a coal-colored silk tie and you’ll be the most commanding presence at the office—and the dinner table. Men’s dress vests have been a part of masculine style for hundreds of years, with very little change in the basic design and structure. Adding a few carefully selected vests to your wardrobe can lead to a surprisingly wide range of options.
With the possible exception of the button down shirt, no piece of clothing fits into as many categories as the vest. Also known as a “waistcoat” (or, in England, a “weskit”) it dates back to pre-Victorian outfits, where it was a standard part of every man’s wardrobe from the poorest to the richest. That may be part of why it’s carried down so far to the point where anyone from a toddler to a great-grandfather can still be found wearing vests in all sorts of surroundings.