Wearing a matching vest, blazer, and pants is one of the few style statements born in the 18th century that still wears exceptionally well today
Television presenters and celebrities have popularised the smarter look, fashion experts say
Celebrities are doing it, weathermen are doing it and now the man in the street is following suit.
The old-fashioned three-piece suit is making a comeback, fashion experts say, with men ditching the casual look in favour of a smarter approach to dressing
Matthew DeBoise, managing partner and cutter at Steed, a Savile Row tailor, said: “It is a positive thing that so many more people right through the age groups are dressing smarter these days. “Working in the trade, I have also seen a big swing in our customers going the route of a three piece suit.
“I often explain to people that having that extra option of the waistcoat gives you many more possibilities and uses out of your suit.
“It can be worn more formally for business and events or you can dress it down.”
Tony Glenville, creative director at London College of Fashion, agreed that the era of casual dressing was over and formal fashion was back. He said: “The casual look seems to have gone and instead men are going for the older look and back to heritage dressing. It’s not a surprise
“They say good things come in threes, and that is generally true when it comes to suits. A three-piece look, especially with a matching vest and tie, offers many sartorial advantages: It projects a more formal and serious look than most of today’s contemporary, sneaker-friendly two-button styles,” says InStyle Fashion News Director Eric Wilson of the three-piece trend. “It hides a multitude of sins (spare tires, bad posture, unpressed shirt). And it elongates the silhouette, making a short man look taller and a tall man look tallest. Plus, a man will still look great even when he takes the jacket off, making it a killer look for parties that require dancing.”
A man in a three-piece suit is a man who knows what he’s doing. You may wear your go-to work suit to a negotiation, but you’ll want to rock a three-piece at signing. Fortunately, it’s not hard to pull off the look if you know where to find the right goods
Advantages of the Three-Piece Suit
For a man seeking a distinctive style, the three-piece suit has obvious merits. A man can safely assume he will be one of the only people wearing a vested suit at most social occasions.
It also creates a single, unbroken stretch of the suit fabric from ankles to shoulder. In a quality fabric, the smooth drape of cloth all the way along the body gives a man’s body a handsomely balanced appearance.
Worn on its own, the waistcoat of a three-piece suit is usually an acceptable piece of dress-casual clothing.
The exception is any vest whose design clearly requires a jacket — the “backless” vests of formalwear are an excellent example; the simple straps that hold them together in the rear were never meant to be a visible element.
Any full vest that falls low enough to cover the belt/waistband is an acceptable accent over a dress shirt, however, and in casual settings the sleeves of the shirt can be rolled up for an old-fashioned nod to working-class styles of the early 20th Century.
Of course, a three-piece suit can always become a two-piece suit through the simple expedient of leaving the waistcoat at home — unlike the double-breasted suit, the three-piece sacrifices no versatility for its elegance.
Its only drawback (so long as the rest of the suit is well-made) is the added cost of the third garment.
10 Tips for Wearing a Three Piece Suit Well
by Edward Dutton
Just when you think you’ve found a perfectly fitting two piece suit and are about to put tailoring on the back burner for a while, your A Suit That Fits style advisor suggests you up your style and try a three piece suit.
Every wardrobe ought to include at least one three piece suit for those “grey area” occasions in which a two piece suit doesn’t cut it and a dinner suit is too much. When the morning suit isn’t an option, men’s daytime fashion relies on the waistcoat to create an additional layer of elegance and gravitas. The waistcoat itself is also a highly versatile garment that can be used to smarten a suit or dress up a casual outfit.
Here are our top 10 tips for nailing a three piece suit.
Leave the waistcoat’s bottom button undone
Most people have heard of this waistcoat “rule.” King Edward VII (pictured below) is usually cited as its originator and it remains an inexplicable piece of sartorial etiquette today.
The full reasons behind the rule may never be known, but it’s worth following nevertheless. The convention may prevent wrinkling, bulging and stress to the button.
Wear a single breasted jacket
Imagine this scenario: you just ordered a perfectly tailored, double breasted suit with a waistcoat.
When A Suit That Fits calls you into the studio for a fitting, you realize your waistcoat is entirely hidden by your double breasted jacket.
Choosing a single breasted suit will prevent this unfortunate scenario from occurring.
The waistcoat should cover the trouser belt line
Create a long, even surface of cloth from the top of your waistcoat down to your trouser ankles. A glimpse of shirt between the waistcoat’s base and your belt line will spoil this effect.
You don’t want to look like Justin Timberlake below (his trousers are hanging way too low).
Your waistcoat shouldn’t look too long.
When it comes to a three piece suit, your trousers should be fitted fairly high around your natural waist.
This means your waistcoat doesn’t have to reach down too low, avoiding the look of an overly long torso.
Don’t use a belt
If your trousers and waistcoat are fitted correctly, your waistcoat will cover your belt, which may cause unattractive bulging.
Ideally, your three piece suit should be worn with suspenders, if necessary.
Balance complexity and simplicity
The three piece suit is a more showy “look” than the average two piece so it’s recommended you wear your suit with a solid colour tailored shirt and a solid colour tie.
This draws attention towards the elegant layers of your waistcoat and jacket.
Wear a three piece in the colder months
There’s no doubt about it, a waistcoat provides extra warmth in the autumn and winter!
Wear a 5 or 6 button waistcoat
If this is your first three piece suit, it’s recommended you go with the standard number of waistcoat buttons – usually 5 or 6.
A taller, slender man will do well to have a full 6 buttons. Stockier men might benefit from fewer. Talk to your style advisor in more depth about issues that affect your individual body type.
Make sure your waistcoat has a fitted waist
Your waistcoat, like your jacket, should have a tailored waist. This means it should narrow around your mid-section and fit snugly, but not tightly.
Break up the pieces
While I may have criticized Justin Timberlake’s waistcoat and trousers above, you’ve got to give him credit for popularizing the look of a three piece suit. I can’t think of any man in recent years as associated as he is with the look of a separate waistcoat and trousers. While this look doesn’t appeal to everyone, especially not more traditional dressers, for whom it resemble the uniform of a waiter, I still think he looks good in it.
In the Chicago Tribune, his stylist once gave some great advice about breaking up the pieces of your three piece suit: “It’s all about breaking it up: Wear a brown vest with black pants, wear a black vest with jeans or wear a navy vest with black pants. The minute you treat it as more casual instead of as a matching piece of a suit, it will have a little bit more of a throwaway style to it, which is better.”