I’m wearing an odd vest today. Odd because it isn’t a part of my suit and odd because that’s the way that most people see it. Forgive the photo it was taken with the “Photo Booth” feature on my MacBook.
The vest is vintage, bought at the Portobello Road Market in London a number of years ago for USD$14. It is a heavyweight wool with plastic-y mother-of-pearl inspired buttons, four slash pockets, and two pleated darts. The label inside reads simply “Weeks of Tenterden.” And it is a very good layering piece on these in-between days (yesterday it was 72ºF, today 52ºF.) The yellow check (in two shades) picks up the yellow in my tie and the yellow overcheck in my blue glen check shirt.
The odd vest has a long story, fancy waistcoats turn up in courtly paintings, in photos of members of a certain family at Eton, and on rock and rollers of all stripes. But, the odd vest or waistcoat may be most familiar to us from numerous Tony Randall films, or for the younger generations, the Reese Witherspoon, Ewan McGregor musical “Down With Love.” McGregor sports a nice red one, if I recall correctly.
My vest serves two very useful purposes, it adds a layer of warmth, allowing me to doff my jacket at my desk and still stay comfortable without resorting to my cardigan, and it adds four pockets. The pockets can hold keys, a pen, my cell phone and my cards without ruining the line of my suit jacket. And a good line to your suit is one step closer to easy elegance.
So, the odd vest, elegant and useful, an easy piece to layer. But yes, it can look a little odd to some folks. Prepare to field a lot of looks and a few questions. It helps to hook a thumb into one of its pockets and rock back on your heels before answering.