A brief history of the waistcoat:
The vest or the most commonly called waistcoat is one of the very few pieces of clothing whose origin historians can date precisely. In 1666 King Charles II declared: “The King hath yesterday in council declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes which he will never alter. It will be a vest, I know not well how”.
This Royal decree was the first ever to mention the Vest or “Waistcoat”. Also “Charles II introduced the waistcoat as a part of correct dress during the Restoration of the British monarchy.”
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, men often wore elaborate and bright colored waistcoats, until fashion in the nineteenth century restricted them to formal wear, and the development of the suit dictated that informal waistcoats become the same color as the rest of a man’s suit.
From the late 17th century a man’s doublet became a waistcoat with men wearing a frock coat over it. “By the 18th century a man was almost never seen without his waistcoat. Not wearing a waistcoat was to be considered “undressed.”
The waistcoat, or vest, of the 1770s was fashionably worn to the upper part of the thigh, opening in a “V” beneath the stomach.
Waistcoats were made in all qualities of silk, cotton, wool, and linens. If adorned, it could be embroidered, printed, brocaded, quilted, tasseled, silver or gold laced, and was the most elaborate article of men’s dress.”