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Style Advice

Style SOS: Can I wear a quirky waistcoat?

Style SOS: Can I wear a quirky waistcoat?

“I’m wearing tails to a wedding so want a waistcoat, preferably in silk, that is colourful but very smart. It can be quirky, but not too quirky. For example, I was toying with the idea of a Union Jack design, but that didn't pass the style test.” – William, via email


Yes, William, you can wear a quirky waistcoat. But you shouldn’t. Normally we would not come down so hard on a style choice – after all, it is a choice. But in this instance, we would strongly advise against a Union Jack. Your clothes act as a first impression for everyone who meets you and a Union Jack waistcoat at a wedding with tails says, “wishes it was last night of the Proms” or “big fan of the Royals”. While both those might be true, is that the first – and, perhaps, only – impression you want all the other champagne-sipping guests to have?

So, no quirky. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring a bit of flair. It’s just about doing so in a way that’s inspiring, not divisive. You mention you’d like something in silk and that’s a great place to start. Silk takes colour beautifully and there are lots of brights to choose from, particularly if you look to classic formalwear companies like Moss Bros. 

One thing to keep in mind if you are wearing a colourful waistcoat to a wedding is that it is worth checking that you won’t be clashing or blending in with the wedding colours. You don’t want to be mistaken for an usher, or offer an unignorable visual counterpoint to the floral arrangements. The right waistcoat can be worn again and again with a variety of suits, so go for a colour that you like, that feels nice and celebratory, but can have a second life outside wedding season. Reds, blues, greens and even purples will always be popular, especially if you go more pastel than neon.

If you’ve got a handle on colour and feel it’s not quite out-there enough, why not go one step further and incorporate pattern too. Again, this isn’t an opportunity to break out the national flag. Instead, go for something you won’t get bored of, like a classic check, small polka dot or even a subtle floral.

Ultimately, even if you want a pattern or bold colour aim for a waistcoat that makes people think you’ve given your outfit some thought. Not that you’ll be pulling a rabbit out of a hat after the speeches.

Words: Nadia Balame-Price
Illustration: Ryan Gillett