To vest or not to vest? That is the question, at least when it comes to grooms and groomsmen who want to zhuzh up a suit or tuxedo with another layer of fashionable fabric. A vest can enhance a suit by adding more dimension, texture, or personality. Or, in the case of a tuxedo, it can simply make the overall look appear even more formal.
Leo Chan, founder and creative director of Levitate Style, is a vest proponent, though he ultimately agrees that any groom should focus most on “looking their personal best” and “having fun” on their big day.
Whether that includes the timeless style addition or not, Chan reveals his top tips for ensuring the sleeveless garment is a stand-out and not a faux pas.
Meet the Expert
Leo Chan is the founder and creative director of Levitate Style.
Reasons to Wear a Vest
Aside from the aforementioned upgrade in formality (think of a vest as making a fancy outfit even fancier), Chan shares three reasons why expanding your two-piece suit to three may be worthwhile:
Vests are Great for Warm-Weather Weddings
If you need to take your jacket off to combat spring or summer heat while boogying on the dance floor, the vest will allow your body to breathe (especially in the armpit area) while still maintaining the element of effortless style.
You Can Stand Out From Groomsmen
Aside from a classic boutonnière or different-colored bowtie, a vest is a clever and subtle tactic to differentiate yourself from identically-dressed groomsmen.
A Vest Can be Slimming
Layers of clothing will naturally widen the body. Grooms rocking a vest don’t have to button their suit jackets, which frees the stomach area from buttons and thick fabric.
It’s All in the Length
Regardless of suit type, color, or pattern, there is one hard and fast rule for rocking a vest: Maintain an appropriate length. “The vest should cover the entire waistband of the trouser and not let any shirt fabric show in between,” advises Chan. “Also, just like the suit jacket, the bottom button should remain unbuttoned.”
Of course, a professional tailor should never steer you in the wrong direction, especially if he or she is taking precise measurements during a fitting. But, for any groom who chooses to dress himself, keep fit in mind while shopping and never sacrifice it in favor of style.
How to Style a Vest
Once a groom has decided to incorporate a vest into his wedding day ensemble, there are a few fashion tips he should take into consideration. For tuxedos, you’ll want to keep things consistent. “The vest should be a matching formal vest with the same color and material of the tuxedo,” advises Chan.
But for those opting for a more casual vibe that is a little less stuffy, there’s more wiggle room. Here are Chan’s top three recommendations:
- Vary the color palette. “The color of the vest can be a different shade from the suit, like pairing a brown suit with a lighter shade like beige or a navy suit with a gray vest.”
- Don’t be afraid to mix patterns. “If your suit is solid, add a vest with patterns like plaid or pinstripe. The reverse rule applies if your suit has a pattern—add a solid vest. The major key is to also pair with matching colors, like choosing a gray vest with a gray pinstripe navy suit. Have the vest match the pinstripes.”
- Play around with seasonal fabrics for interesting texture pops. “For a summer wedding, opt for seersucker or linen. For fall or winter, experiment with wool or tweed.”
Choosing to wear a vest is certainly not going to make or break a groom’s overall aesthetic, but it can definitely make it more polished, complete, and even unique. A bride has more flexibility in showcasing her individual style through a dress with details like beading, lace, and shape, so consider the vest—at least in a less formal setting—as a way to make a statement that is reflective of you and your personality. And, at the very least, it’s something you can keep on to look fancy while tearing up the dance floor, knocking back Champagne, and doting on your one true love.