Waistcoat History Timeline from 1666 to Present Day

Here are some brief notes on typical waistcoat styles throughout past decades

1990 – Waistcoats were cut large, collarless, single-breasted with welt pockets in silk, brocade & demin

1980 – Use mainly as part of a three-piece suit, single-breasted, cut large in bright colours with big patterns in silk, satin, lurex or embroidered denim.

1970 – Only worn as part of a three-piece suit, fitted, single-breasted and collarless.

1960 – Fitted, collarless, single-breasted, cloth matching the jacket. Leather waistcoats were popular.

1940 & 1950 – Collarless, single-breasted, worn only as part of a three-piece suit to match the jacket cloth. Waistcoats were less popular due to war-time rationing.

1930 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless matching the jacket cloth, knitted waistcoats

1920 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, high fastenings, often matching the jacket. Sometimes replaced with a knitted waistcoat or sweater.

1910 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, high fastenings, narrow lapels, cloth to match the jacket.

1900 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, high fastenings, wool cloths to match the jacket. King Edward VII – influenced.

1890 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, high fastenings, plain wool cloths, patterned velvets

1880 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, high fastenings, plain wool cloths, silk

1870 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, high fastenings, silk, welt pockets, velvet, matching the jacket

1860 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, cloth matching the jacket

1850 – Fitted, single-breasted, collarless, welt pockets, jacquard-woven silk or matching the coat

1840 – Fitted, single breasted, collar and revers, shawl collars, welt pockets, silk or matching the coat

1830 – Fitted, single- or double-breasted, with or without collars, pointed and shaped fronts, silk or matching the coat.

1820 – Fitted, single-breasted, collar and revers, shawl collars, plain or embroidered silk or matching the coat.

1810 – Fitted, single-breasted, high fastenings, stand collars, embroidered silks

1800 – Fitted, single-breasted, high fastenings, stand collars, embroidered or striped silks

1790 – Fitted, single- or double-breasted, high stand collars, embroidered or silk fabrics. Waistcoats gradually became shorter until reached the waist in 1790.

1780 – Double-breasted styles were very popular.

1770 – Fashionably worn to the upper part of the thigh, opening to a “V” beneath the stomach. Waistcoats were made of silk, wool, cotton and linens. They could be printed, embroidered, brocaded, tasselled, quilted, silver or gold or silver laced. Generally the focal point and most elaborate article of men’s dress.

1750 – Waistcoats were a brilliant display of luxury fabrics and detail such as bold buttons. They were made with sleeves until 1750.

1668 – As an undercoat the waistcoat was cut similar to the justaucorps. Justaucorps or justacorps was a tight fitting knee-length coat, fitted at the waist and flared below, and worn over a waistcoat.

1666 – Waistcoats were introduced by Charles II as correct dress during the restoration of the monarchy. These were a simple straight cut made from black cloth with a white silk lining.

Browse through our Waistcoat styles