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Vest vs. Waistcoat: What's the Difference?

Allure Seamist Tuxedo Vests

At first glance, waistcoats and vests appear the same. They’re both sleeveless garments designed to cover the upper half of the body and serve a very similar function. While some may believe the two can be used interchangeably with each other, that isn’t exactly true. 

There are several differences between vests and waistcoats that set them apart from one another. If you’re looking to improve your fashion knowledge, here are four key ways that waistcoats and vests differ.

Geographical Differences

A major difference between vests and waistcoats is regional linguistics. The term vest originates from the French word Veste, which means sports coat or jacket. It is a much more general term that’s been used to describe multiple garments and, in the United States, has also been used to refer to waistcoats. 

However, in England, Europe, and other parts of the world, that isn’t the case. They distinguish waistcoats separately from vests and as completely different garments.

The Number of Buttons

Another notable difference between vests and waistcoats is the presence of buttons. Waistcoats typically have a column of buttons that can be fastened or unfastened at the wearer’s will. Sometimes, these buttons can reach up to the neck of the waistcoat.

By comparison, vests commonly don’t have buttons. Although, there are some instances where they may have a few buttons, and oftentimes it’s for design and aesthetic purposes. The absence of buttons makes vests slightly easier to slip off and on.

Style Options

Differences between vests and waistcoats are also apparent in the number of options they have available for styling. While you’ll be able to consider wearing a single-breasted or double-breasted waistcoat, you won’t have those options when it comes to vests. Furthermore, many waistcoat styles include fancy lapels and other design features, whereas vests don’t have nearly as many adornments.

When They’re Worn

Perhaps the most significant difference between vests and waistcoats is their formality. Waistcoats are formal garments worn over a shirt and are one of the garments in a three-piece suit. As a result, waistcoats are best suited for weddings and other formal events that warrant high-class clothing. Formal waistcoats are also commonly made with higher-quality materials compared to other garments.

Vests, on the other hand, are informal and worn without anything underneath them. They’re perfectly suited for casual outfits and can be used in countless settings. For example, you can wear a vest to restaurant outings with family or low-key gatherings with friends. Because vests can go well with a variety of outfits, they have more versatility than waistcoats. Additionally, vests are generally a less-expensive upper body garment, meaning they’re an affordable article of clothing for many. 

Now that you understand the difference between vests and waistcoats consider browsing the selection at Buy4Less Tuxedo. We have a variety of waistcoat styles, tuxedo shirts, and men’s dinner jackets to choose from, allowing you to find the perfect outfit for an upcoming event.