Waistcoat vests and plain vests – who knew they had such a history!

Do you remember the sleeveless garment that people once wore because of its functionality? This piece of clothing is the vest and is not as fashionable as it used to be.

Vests are a pretty functional piece of cloth that are worn over a shirt or blouse. Most of the designs include buttons down the front. Individuals use them for a warm protection and/or as the third piece in formal suit attire.

As this article looks at the different types of waistcoat vests, here is the moment to briefly mention the undergarment vests which are not to be confused with the waistcoat. They are sleeveless garments similar to the T-shirts with a neckline that can extend as far as mid-chest. Also, they are known as A-Shirt. Undergarment vests are mainly used by men. Normally, they are worn under a shirt. There is a big variety of undergarment vest to choose from. You may find that people call them guinea tee, muscle shirt etc.


The history of the vest is connected to France as the word “vest“ comes from the French “veste“. However, this piece of clothing made its first appearance in England during the reign of Charles II. According to the diary of Samuel Pepys, the King aimed to start off a new fashion that was supposed to teach the nobles how to be thrifty.

International confusion

The vest is called ‘undershirt’ or T-shirt in USA and Canada. People from UK named it vest or waistcoat. Austrailians refer it as a ‘singlet’. Danish, Dutch and Norwegians use the word “vest“, as well. But in the other parts of the world the word for vest is completely different.

Germans called it “unterhemd“, Russians use the word “жилет“, Spanish say “chaleco“ and French name it “débardeur“. ‘Banyan’ is another word for a vest. This type of vest is made from a fabric that absorbs the sweat and gives comfort to the person that wears it. It was influenced by the East in the 18th century. The vest is still commonly used in India as an undershirt.

Types of vests

Sport vests are worn by fishers and hunters. They use this kind of vest because of the array of the external pockets. Thus, they can carry the needed fishing and hunting gears, tackles, bullets etc.

The bulletproof vests protect the upper part of the body from gunfire. They are soft and made from tightly woven fibres. The police and private security guards wear the soft variety where the combat troops don hard vests that are reinforced by plates. The first fabric that was used as a bullet resistant was from silk. The reason for this is that in the 19th century, a man noticed that one of the participants in a gunfight escaped a serious injury because of his silk handkerchief.

The guards in prisons wear a special kind of vest made from a material called Dyneema and provide protection from stabbing.

Travel vests are the right choice for a warm climate. What is more, they have a plethora of pockets where to stow your travel necessities. But for winter months, when outside is nippy and rainy, fleece vests and wool vests are the one to wear.

A symbol for the can-do spirit

NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz wore a white vest made by his wife Marta as he averted tragedy during the Apollo 13 mission. Forty years ago, he led a team that worked to rescue Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. Since then this vest is not only a symbol of motivation and ambition but a moral and instructive booster. Also, it conveys the idea that you can achieve whatever goal you set for yourself.


Waistcoats look professional and sophisticated but at the same time they are comfy. Vests can make you look attractive if they are well matched with the other parts of your outfit.

However, some people think that to wear one is embarrassing.

But a lot of university professors, politicians and businessmen wear vests.

Generally women tend not to include vests in their wardrobe. However, some professions such as the police, construction workers and traffic cops require the wearing of a vest as part of the safety rules.

Vogues change from season to season. Pieces of cloths that we thought are not stylish anymore come back in fashion. Who knows, maybe the vests are going to be trendy once again!

Are you vest lover or vest shamer? Let us know in the comments!