At first glance these pictures may look exactly the same, but if you look closely at the bottom of the butcher’s vest, or waistcoat, you’ll see the difference. A few weeks ago a friend of ours came up up my husband and complemented him on his “sharp suit” but she then looked down at his waistcoat, tsk’d, and unbuttoned the bottom button. (she’s an, um…”older” friend of ours which is the only reason why I didn’t smack her hand away haha!) “You’re supposed to leave that open”, she said. Now, to my credit, my husband is usually pretty well dressed (complete with matching pocket silk) but this was totally new information to me! It got me thinking about waistcoats and whether to button or not to button. So like any good blogger, I went straight to the internet. I found an article that satisfied my curiosity. According to Robert Johnston of GQ Magazine, there are, in fact, four possible answers. Johnston says, “All four would be equally acceptable as there is no definitive explanation as to the origin of this sartorial quirk. The four theories are: first, that when the future Edward VII was Prince of Wales he became so fat that he couldn’t do up the bottom button on his waistcoat so court followed suit to make him feel better about his body image. Secondly, that there was a time when young dandies would sport two waistcoats at the same time so left the top waistcoat’s bottom button undone so that you could see the one underneath. Thirdly, that it is all to do with comfort while in the saddle and to stop the waistcoat rising up the chest while riding. Lastly, that it was an affectation of members of Pop, the exclusive club at Eton, that was spotted and adopted by Savile Row as these spoilt young bucks tended to grow up to be good customers. I personally lean towards the first one, as there is nothing so weird as court etiquette.”
So there you have it, are you a “young dandy” or will you go against the grain and button all the way down?