Waistcoat vs Hipcoat : how long should a waistcoat be?

Waistcoat vs Hipcoat : how long should a waistcoat be?

Old friends will know that this is not new territory for me.

One of my biggest bugbears when it comes to menswear is the gradual transition of waistcoat to hipcoat, as they get increasingly longer.

Over the last few years the 3-piece has been getting a bad rep. And to my mind this is the fault of one culprit - trousers.

The problem is that too many people wear their trousers on their hips not their waist. And they think that turning a 2-piece to a 3-piece just involves adding a waistcoat.


If you want to wear a waistcoat with a regular pair of trousers you either need a very long one which will make your proportions very odd (elongate the body, shorten the legs) or you end up with the unsightly bunch of shirt betwixt the two.

Tom Hardy - 3 piece suit on a red carpet

Waistcoats require high-rise, or at the very least a generous mid-rise cut.

When worn properly they elongate the leg and emphasise the narrowest part of your waist. They can hide a tum or straining shirt buttons on a larger physique and broaden a more petite figure.

Steve McQueen - the Thomas crown affair

In short, they can be a marvellous sartorial tool. But only when done well.

Post-covid dressing has seen a rise in formal, deliberate dressing. No matter how much people shout about the death of the tie the fact is we are still selling them at the same rate as pre-covid.

It seems as though there are plenty of people who like the ritual of conscious dressing.

As Hardy Amies famously said

A man should look as if he's bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them


If you don’t want to have to buy a new suit in order to partake in the glorious resurgence of the Wiscot, don’t despair. A sweater vest can be a really smart alternative. It will give you that extra layer in the winter without making the sleeves of your coat feel tight or bulky. And it’s versatile, you can wear one vest with multiple suits.

Colour is important - If you can find something exactly the same colour as your suit, wonderful; but if not then you are better off getting something completely different but complementary.

Sweater vest - British Vogue

Perhaps use it as an excuse to inject a little colour into your wardrobe. There are safe, tried and tested combinations, like navy & maroon or olive green & charcoal; or you can embrace your inner Harry Styles. Pinks, purples, yellows, prints, patterns: go nuts. 

Harry Style - sweater vest under suit


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