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HomeTuxedos and SuitsWhat Is A Three Piece Suit

What Is A Three Piece Suit

Two is usually better than one, right?  So wouldn’t it only make sense that three is better than two? In steps, or rather in waltzes, the three piece suit:

Sophisticated, classy, timeless; No wardrobe is fully complete without the inclusion of a three piece suit.  There are often occasions where a two piece suit just won’t cut it and a tuxedo, or dinner suit, is just a tad too formal.  This is where the vest you so often see underneath suits is utilized.  Also known as the waist coat, this garment was originally worn with a suit to add warmth, but has since become a staple of formal wear.  Being that the waist coat is such an imperative piece to the three piece suit (it literally is the one component that differentiates a business suit from a formal three piece suit), it is only right to explore the critical guidelines that go along with wearing one.

A Little History

But before we do, a brief history of the bygone garment:  As legend has it, King Charles the II of England is credited for debuting the iconic piece of clothing.  He apparently he was disgusted with the French for their start of the Great Fire of London in 1666.  So on October 7th of the same year, he declared that his court could no longer wear ‘French fashions’, very flashy apparel made of French silk.  Cut to, what was known in that time as the Persian vest, a longer version of today’s waistcoat most commonly worn with a coat and shirt, about knee-length and made of English wool.  This new style omitted the notoriously French ruffles and accessories, and instead focused on cut and cloth.  As the decades progressed, the waistcoat shortened in length, but wasn’t until about 1790 that it reached today’s current size.

The Buttons

Much like its more commonly worn cousin, the sports jacket, the waistcoat should not be worn with the bottom button fastened.  Leaving this undone can assist in preventing wrinkles in the garment and eliminates any possible added stress on the button.  In past decades, the number of buttons on your typical waistcoat was usually around 3-4.  It can vary depending on the size of the gentleman sporting it; however, the common standard now is 5 to 6.  A thin man with substantial height would fit well in a waistcoat with 6 buttons, while a shorter stockier man would look better with less.

Single-Breasted, Always

Always wear a single breasted jacket.  Double breasted jackets have had their time in the spotlight and held it well, but the bulkiness and use of thicker materials of the double breast doesn’t keep up with the times.  This style was more popular in the early to mid-1900s, but it has since faded with the reigniting of the minimalist look.  Clean lines and sleek fits rule the suit world in this day and age.

The Length

Your waist coat should never cover the trouser line, and no, not to show off your belt.  A three piece suit does not require a belt, nor should ever be worn with one.   More times than not, the pants of a three piece suit should be fitted quite snug and rather high, on your natural waist line. This keeps your waistcoat at a nice length, avoiding an overly long looking torso.

Patterns and Prints

Steer clear of wild patterns and prints.  The three piece suit in itself is a more “flashy” look per say, so sticking to solid colors and styles is advised.  If you absolutely must dazzle up your suit’s pattern, it is strongly advised to keep your shirt and tie solid, simple colors.  With an extra piece added to your suit (waist coat), getting to crazy with the patterns can become too cluttered, so keep it subtle.

Keep it Slim and Fitted

It’s no surprise that the era of zoot suits is long gone; European slim cut suits are the new wave and rightfully so.  With society caring more and more about appearance and health, it only makes sense that the clothing would also follow suit, pun intended; same goes for your waistcoat.  Just like your jacket, your vest should have a tailored, fitted waist.

The three piece suit isn’t seen as often as it used to be, but still holds the level of iconic fashion that it always has.  So don’t be too timid to up your suit game up from two to three pieces, it definitely won’t go unnoticed.

Happy styling!