The Elements of a Three Piece Suit

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What’s the difference between a typical two-piece and a three-piece suit? Really, it’s the waistcoat. A waistcoat is the vest worn above the shirt and below the jacket. It’s amazing how the addition of this vest can add a sense of class to a boring trouser and blazer combination.

Can I just add a vest to my suit?

Technically, then it’s not a real three piece suit. The elements of a three piece suit must be made from the same material and lining. This includes the waistcoat, pants, and jacket.

If you take any two piece suit and add a new vest, this vest is called an “odd vest”. Typically, the waistcoat matches the rest of the outfit. If this is your first time trying to add a vest or waistcoat to your outfit, don’t go for a pop of color, just stick to the color of the rest of the suit.

How do you wear it?

As with jackets, there are buttoning rules for waistcoats. It’s best to always leave the last button undone.

You also won’t be needing a belt with your suit, it just looks off.

Finally, your waistcoat should cover your belt line. But don’t let it fall above or below it, or the proportions will be off.

Why did the three piece suit go out of style?

It’s not necessarily that it went out of style. According to Alan Flusser, author of “Dressing the Man“, the three piece suit started to decline due to wartime rationing. Tailors could not make the waistcoats necessary for three piece suits anymore.

Since then, they haven’t risen to much prominence. You do see the occasional one at a wedding or other formal event, but most people don’t walk into the office in one.

When can you wear a three piece suit?

The obvious answer is weddings. Grooms and groomsmen sporting three piece suits are becoming a hot trend in the wedding space. As a guest you can definitely wear one as well.

If you ever plan to head to the racetrack, a three piece suit will not look out of place.

At the office, it’s best to stick with class colors like black, matching every piece of the outfit.

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