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Waistcoat Vs Vest

Waistcoat Vs. Vest: The Differences and Tips on Wearing Them

Waistcoat or vest - the confusion continues! Is there a difference between the two? We answer all your questions in this article.
Tulika Nair
Last Updated: Feb 27, 2018
Are waistcoats and vests one and the same? To answer your question in very precise terms, yes. There is absolutely no difference between the two. It is the same garment that is worn over a shirt with a necktie and below a coat. The reason there is so much confusion between the two words is because the latter term is also used for other garments. While mostly a reference to a formal article of men's clothing, today it has transcended previously-set boundaries to become a part of clothing for both men and women. In this article, we tell you why the confusion arose and how you can wear this piece of clothing.
What is the Difference
First let us take a look at how a waistcoat is defined. It is a sleeveless waist-length coat which made its first appearance on the fashion scene in the 17th century. A waistcoat is generally worn under a suit. While earlier this piece of clothing was worn by both genders, in the 20th century they were primarily worn by men. Waistcoats for men had a set pattern in which they were sewed. Today that has reversed again with members of both sexes donning the waistcoat. A vest is the same but it is a term that is also used for other clothing items including the swimming gear that is used to save lives and prevent drowning, and a warm layer that is worn under regular clothing as insulation against the winter winds. The terms vest was first used in the year 1610 to refer to the garment worn by men in countries in the East. This garment was generally very loose.
So, if they refer to the same clothing item, then why the confusion between the two? Well the problem arises from language and dialect differences. While in the way they are designed and worn, there is no difference, the terms are confusing because of the usage of different terms for the same fashion clothing in different countries. In Britain the garment that functions as an overcoat over a shirt is referred to as a waistcoat. On the other hand in the United States, the same garment is referred to as a vest. If you are in Britain and you use the word vest, then natives would believe that you are talking about an undershirt or a tank top but definitely not the waistcoat. In the United States the term vest is used interchangeably to refer to life jackets and hunting coats as well. This is the main reason of the debate surrounding the usage of both terms.
How to Wear Them
Sleeveless garments like these can be worn in a variety of different manners other than how they are traditionally worn. For a casual look, opt for a waistcoat or vest made of denim or cotton and wear it over a long t-shirt and skinny or straight-cut jeans. For women, fashion trends command that you accessorize the look with a long metallic chain or hoop earrings. For men, you can accentuate the look with a scarf around your neck or a top hat. Men and women can both wear canvas shoes with this look.
If you are on the lookout for a more trendy and sophisticated look, then there are different ways to achieve that. For men, wear a vest that is made of corduroy or other tough fabrics. You can wear the waistcoat over a simple white shirt and team it with a thin tie which is in vogue right now. Wear this with either denims or straight-cut pants in the same fabric as your waistcoat. Women can combine a loose waistcoat with a frilly or floral dress and cinch it with a belt. Team the look with high heels (preferably gladiators or boots). Ensure that the vest you don is in a dark color and single toned. The androgynous look is a huge trend in women's clothing as of now and that trend makes this piece of clothing the perfect addition to your wardrobe.
The battle between the usage of the terms will continue for some time to come but for followers of fashion, there is no difference between the two. So head to your favorite fashion outlet and pick out a few of these adorable clothing pieces to spice up your wardrobe.
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