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While I'm largely known for my signature grey fedora, another item of clothing I'm often seen in, particularly as my interest in personal fashion has gone up, is my beloved brown wool vest. Unfortunately, it's going on something like ten years old now and getting quite threadbare in spots, so I've been shopping, without much success, for a replacement.

Problem is, the only vests to be readily found are either cheapy ones for skinny teenagers (which I am not), knit sweater-vests (not what I'm looking for), or the third piece of a three-piece suit (also not what I'm looking for). Along with all the other ways men have forgotten how to dress in the past ~50 years, they've largely forgotten about the vest, at least in the US. I don't know if the same is true of the UK, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Like most items of clothing, the vest has a specific purpose — i.e., it's intended to unify the lines of the body, while being cooler than a complete coat. Originally, the vest was simply a sleeveless coat, you see. The "three piece suit" was actually trousers plus vest with an overcoat, but when the suit became its own entity, people would then start putting an overcoat on over their coat and vest, and then wondering why they bothered to have a vest. (The answer was, "because yer doin' it wrong, dumbass," but education in such matters got lost somewhere along the line.)

If you look at a two-piece suit that's tailored properly and worn buttoned, it creates a unified effect (which is why coat and trousers are either the same or compatible colors and textures). But before the days of air conditioning, it could be awfully warm in the summertime to be minding the store (or the office) in a full coat, so the vest was invented. If you look at the earliest vests, you'll notice that they had collars just like suit coats do today. Unless you were really freezing, you wouldn't wear a vest and a coat and an overcoat. It'd be like wearing a hat over another hat. If you expected to be cold at work, you'd wear a coat and an overcoat. If you expected to be warm at work, you'd wear a vest and an overcoat. (This is where the three-piece suit ended up causing so much trouble — people didn't realize that the coat of a three piece suit is an overcoat, it's just one designed to coordinate with the vest and trousers.)


These days, the movement in trendy fashions is to a carefully-crafted shabbiness, and has been for decades. This is nothing new, and is actually not that bad a style really, when done right. The whole "open-collar shirt, maybe V-neck, jeans pooled at the feet, unbuttoned blazer" thing is an easy look to pull off and for most guys that's all they really care about. Whatever dandies like myself may think about that, it's the way things are and there's no point in wishing it was still 1930. Given the way a lot of people dress, we have to be grateful for crafted shabbiness. ;)

But in the spirit of "be the change you want to see in the world," I make an effort to go the extra mile and actually dress better than I have to. Who knows, maybe it's my way of compensating for the permanent spare tire that no amount of exercise will ever get rid of, but as it is the major part of my appearance that I actually can control, and I am terribly vain, I'm going for it. And in the case of vests, that means special ordering, because a guy with a 52" chest just plain cannot buy vests off the rack in 2008. Ain't gonna happen.

But in a way, that's almost a blessing in disguise; because to find a proper vest, I ended up scouring the internet until I found a company that sells honest-to-goodness waistcoats. And from them I ordered one of these, one of these, and, because I've wanted one since I was a kid, one of these. (I also tried to order one of these, but was crushed to be informed that they were out of stock. I may order one of these in dark brown instead.)

"Um ... Gneech?" you may be saying (assuming you're still reading). "You're not, like, gonna start wearing a Buffalo Bill Cody costume to work, are you?" The answer is no, I'm not. For one thing, I wouldn't look good in a cravat. For another, even my dandification has limits. I'm sticking with contemporary shirts (no starched collars, thank you), necktie, and so on. As much as I would like to go around town dressed like a Time Lord, I don't think I'd be able to do it without it being a complete affectation, which is antithetical to having real style.

-The Gneech


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 9th, 2008 08:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe we'll start calling you G the Hat. :)
Dec. 9th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC)
I suppose you could, if it would make you happy...

Dec. 9th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
Wear that first one and stand around outside of restaurants, and I bet people will be so blown away by your sense of style that they give you free cars.


I love the look of a good vest myself, and they're really hard to find in my size, which is considerable.
Dec. 9th, 2008 09:15 pm (UTC)
Actually, I was thinking of wearing it to restaurants so I could wander into the kitchen and get free food.

-The Gneech ("Wow, look at all the luggage this guy just gave me! And $5 too. This vest is awesome!")
Dec. 9th, 2008 10:22 pm (UTC)
Word to the wise - don't shop on a UK site and hope to find a "vest". You'll find a completely different article of clothing. What you guys call vests, we call "waistcoats" :)
Dec. 9th, 2008 10:32 pm (UTC)
"Waistcoat" and "vest" are pretty much synonymous over here, with "vest" being much more common. What does "vest" mean over there?

Dec. 9th, 2008 11:03 pm (UTC)
A type of underwear, I believe known in the US as an "undershirt"
Dec. 10th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC)
what you guys call a "tank top" :) (And what we call a tank top is a thin, sleeveless sweater, generally speaking)
Dec. 9th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
] I used to have one of those. Very nice... one of the nicest things my ex ever gave me. Wish I knew what happened to it. =P Oh well... it's probably high time I found my own to replace it.


Edited at 2008-12-09 11:38 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 10th, 2008 12:41 pm (UTC)
The cheap ones at Target stop two sizes below me, or I'd probably have ended up with one of those as well and stopped there.

Dec. 10th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
*clicks on the link and bookmarks* Ooh, shiny.
I have a weakness for vests. :)

Eee, pocketwatch!

Edited at 2008-12-10 01:49 am (UTC)
Dec. 10th, 2008 02:42 am (UTC)
your links made Efrain go SQUEE with happy, as he enjoys vests as well.
Dec. 10th, 2008 12:41 pm (UTC)
Now you know what to get him for Christmas! ;)

-The Gneech
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:00 am (UTC)
You ought to have a chat with adequate_magic! He's a fellow dapper dude! And darn you... Now you've got me thinking of dressing on-theme the entire weekend for RCFM!
Dec. 10th, 2008 12:42 pm (UTC)
LJ doesn't seem to know who that is.

What's the theme? :)

Dec. 10th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Whoops! It's adequatemagic. That's a fellow from the Muck by the nickname of Roon who took up magic as a hobby that got out of control and became a second career. He's quite the showman AND likes to dress very well. He's also a man of size, barrel-chested, and has some rather good resources for snappy duds. Rather into the steampunk end of things. @:)
Dec. 10th, 2008 04:20 am (UTC)
Yay, Style!
I really need to start wearing my waistcoat again. I need to find where it got to ... mmm, some very nice stuff on that site.

I like waistcoats, they go with my pocket-watch. :)

-- Brett, who hasn't owned a pair of jeans or t-shirt for at least a decade now he thinks.
Dec. 10th, 2008 08:22 am (UTC)
Re: Yay, Style!
How do you survive without t-shirts? I love to dress properly (to an extent.. I mean, I'll never trade in my boots for "proper" shoes, and I'm a bit scruffy usually..) but t-shirts are quick an easy and comfortable and fit properly in a way no off-the-rack proper shirt does.
Dec. 10th, 2008 04:50 am (UTC)
I am so shopping here once I land a Real Job.
Dec. 10th, 2008 08:20 am (UTC)
Heh. Gentleman's Emporium; They're a good shop, huh? I rather think I'll be getting their Rifle Coat someday; it's similar in cut to my favorite big trench, which I got about third-hand and is falling apart.

However, they don't ship outside the States, so I will have to get it shipped to me by a friend back in the homecountry.. or get it when I visit sometime..

I got one of their canes, last time I was in the States. It serves; ain't amazing, and next time I get one I'll go higher quality or make my own, but it's good for the price, oh yes.
Dec. 10th, 2008 10:28 am (UTC)
I like waistcoats but currently own none. You have reminded me, though, that as a nipper I owned a brown corduroy waistcoat with big glass buttons that I thought I looked the absolute bee's knees in.
Dec. 10th, 2008 02:28 pm (UTC)

As much as I would like to go around town dressed like a Time Lord,

So, do we call you Doctor Gneech from now on, or will "The Master" do for now? (Just watched Forgotten Earth this week --in HD no less-- and looking forward to the series ender)
Dec. 10th, 2008 07:47 pm (UTC)
Oh, you are NOT terribly vain!!!

You've never, ever been terrible about your vanity. There's absolutely no need to be so apologetic. Be proud to be proud! ^_^
Dec. 10th, 2008 07:52 pm (UTC)
Why ... you're right! My vanity is AWESOME! It borders on megalomania!






Um, sorry. What were we talking about?

-The Gneech
Dec. 11th, 2008 12:46 am (UTC)
Umm... vests? O_O
Dec. 12th, 2008 04:42 am (UTC)
I hope you forgive me for the tongue-in-cheek. But, looking at those waistcoats made me think Steam-punk Gneech. ;)

Edited at 2008-12-12 04:43 am (UTC)
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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