Social Etiquette and Good Manners/Vests


Hello Ms. Hoffman,

Do you have any thoughts on men wearing vests? I enjoy wearing them, but would like to get some use out of any I might purchase, not only for dress occasions but casual wear as well. Any thoughts are appreciated, thank you.


How to wear a Vest
How to wear a Vest  
The shoulders of the vest should always lie flat against your body and below any collar points.  If youíre wearing the vest with a suit coat, the V-shape of the vest should be narrower enough that the suit lapels donít hide it entirely.

And for anyone who didnít read our run-down on vest, suit, and shirt buttons earlier, keep in mind that the bottom button of a waistcoat should always be left undone Ė the top button may be left undone as well however itís optional.

The tradition is more than a hundred years old and stems from the same rules applying to jackets.  Thereís no practical reason for it nowadays (except perhaps to give off a more casual flair) ó itís just a way of showing that you respect tradition.  Be sure to let your friends know when they helpfully point out that your buttonís undone!

Occasions for Men to Wear Vests

mens black tie waistcoat vestYouíll always wear either a vest (commonly called a waistcoat here) or a cummerbund at black tie formal events.  These vests or waistcoats are usually backless, fastened with an adjustable strap unless custom made.

They also have lapels, which makes the waistcoat more formal, and is made from in the same grosgrain found on the black tie jacket.

Expect these waistcoats to be cut lower to show more of the dress shirt front.

A matching black is the most common option for a tuxedo vest, but you can wear a different color so long as it is dark, plain, and dignified ó deep greens and burgundies are solid choices.

If you wear a colored vest is should be the only colored piece in the ensemble.

Three-piece suits are a great option for a man looking to add a touch of formality.

Your vest should usually match your suit, and should always be worn with a necktie.  An open collar is too informal for a full three-piece suit.

A suit with an unmatched vest is a rare and more casual look, rarely seen nowadays.
If youíre going to experiment with the style, be aware that itís not business appropriate, and that it will strike most people as being a bit dated.

The vest on its own is the look that seems to be catching on lately.  You can wear an unmatched vest with anything from a pair of slacks to darkwash jeans.

A long-sleeved dress shirt is the only thing that really makes sense under one, but you can roll the sleeves up if youíre wearing it as a casual style.

The rules of wearing a vest well still apply ó be sure itís long enough to cover your waist in the front!  

Social Etiquette and Good Manners

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Constance Hoffman


As a professional etiquette coach and trainer, I am able to assist with any and all of your questions pertaining to social and business skills, party manner, appearance, communication both verbal and written, tipping, email manners and social media, and of course entertaining and dining etiquette.


As owner of Social and Business Graces, I have been teaching children and adults for over 15 years.

Owner of Social and Business Graces

Owner, teacher, coach and author of "Tips on Tipping".

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