Waistcoat vs Vest

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A lot of people tend to get confused when it comes to differentiating a waistcoat from a vest. Needless to say, both are types of men’s garments, and both are sleeveless. Even more, there are a bunch of sub-categories that divide each of them even further. However, no matter how similar the two are, there are actually crucial distinctions that set waistcoats apart from vests.

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Quite interestingly, in American English, waistcoats are often being referred to as vests. Most probably, this is because waistcoats, like vests, are sleeveless, and also cover the upper part of the body, giving such a similar look when worn. Yet, still, we need to know the differences between waistcoats and vests.



A waistcoat is a sleeveless garment that functions to cover the upper part of the body. A waistcoat is often used as a part of men’s formal wear. It is worn over a dress shirt and a necktie, below a coat. In addition, a waistcoat is used as the third piece in the traditional three-piece male business suit.



On the other hand, a vest is also a sleeveless garment that covers the upper body. However, the term is a lot more general, as it is used quite differently around the world. For example, in US and Canada, waistcoats are also called vests. In some places, like the UK, a slipover or tank top is often considered as a vest, too. A vest can be used for both formal and casual wear, and can be used without anything underneath it.

Waistcoat vs Vest

- Usually used as a part of men’s formal wear- Used widely for casual, semi-formal, and sometimes formal wears
- Typically has buttons or snaps- Has neither buttons nor snaps
- Has a full vertical opening at the front part- Is worn by pulling it down your neck
- Usually worn over a dress shirt and a necktie- Can be used with or without any other garment underneath it

See the differences between Waistcoat vs Vest on pictures :

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So, a waistcoat is a formal clothing that often features buttons or snaps, and requires another garment underneath. On the contrary, a vest often doesn’t have any buttons or snaps, can be used without another garment underneath, and is usable for casual as well as some formal occasions.