People think I hate weddings because I’m allergic to love. But the truth—the god’s honest truth—is that there comes a point during the reception when something terrible happens. After too much champagne and Electric Sliding with grandma, it starts getting hot. People are feeling loose; they toss their shoes off, maybe loosen their ties. And then the jackets come off (of groomsmen, usually), and it leaves them wearing quite possibly the worst outfit of all time: a dress shirt and vest with no jacket. We at Esquire have dubbed this “the lonely waistcoat.” (Please note that “vest” and “waistcoat” are being used interchangeably here.)
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You know the look. In 2004, it was a red carpet staple. (Love you, JT, but I cannot forgive this.) Ryan Reynolds is a modern day repeat offender. And if it makes one of the most unequivocally attractive people in the world look like a huge dork, it cannot—cannot—work on you. Delusional men with vapes and guys in Italy think that wearing just the vest adds a taste of buttoned-up professionalism. It’s like a suit, except without the sleeves because sleeves are hard (sad face). They are wrong. It looks sloppy, lazy, and like your prom date just poked you in the chest with your boutonniere. You are an adult. Be better than the grind train!
I hate this look. I hate it. I can feel the blood rush to my hands, I can feel my heartbeat speed up. I become acutely aware of just how much of a scene I’d case if I tore it off the torso of an unsuspecting stranger. It’s a look that will always feel incomplete because it is incomplete. The vast majority of vests were designed to be worn as part of a three-piece suit, not as a top layer. (There might be some designed to be worn alone. Burn those.) When you take off the jacket, you ruin the best part of a suit: a polished, streamlined look. What’s left is this kind of sad half-suit that is neither causal nor formal. It is style purgatory. Are you trying to look like McLovin? Aladdin? A movie theater usher?
There are some vests out there that might appear more casual—say, in a tweed or canvas—but they’re just daytime version of this devil work. There are so many better ways to look fashionable. Wear a casual blazer or a lightweight bomber or let a camp collar shirt hang open over a tee. None of these things will make you look like you’re in a Green Day cover band. Promise!
Fashion doesn’t have to be complicated to be good. For guys who aren’t into peacocking, I urge them to wear things that are polished. By all means, just wear a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, but make them fitted and modern. A lonely waistcoat looks like your sense of style is stunted, and there is no excuse for this because minimalism is cool! You can wear suits that feel like freaking sweatpants now. Honestly, do the world a favor and throw your solo vests into a fire. The world doesn’t need to see anymore lonely waistcoats. And so help me god if you wear it with a fedora.