This isn’t the most dramatic of pieces. It’s actually about as basic as can be. It’s in a basic navy pinstripe-y color, basic wool-blend something fabric, plain buttons, black lining. Really can’t get more basic than this:
And yet, there’s something about this basic piece that, for me, goes beyond basic. Is it the unexpectedness? The relative rarity? Perhaps it’s that a guy has to go to a little trouble to put on a vest. I don’t mean that they are hard to wear or uncomfortable or difficult to get to look right. Unlike a necktie, a vest really is as simple as put it on, button it (or not) and wear it. So why the difficulty in wearing one? They’re an extra. He might have to wear a shirt and tie, maybe even a jacket or sport coat, but the vest is almost always optional. Even in a wedding situation, there are almost always options for men that don’t involve a vest (assuming the Bride is agreeable). For casual wear, the pants and shirt are a must (at least for any occasion that involves leaving the house). Again, though, the vest is optional.
To me, a classic vest says a couple of things about a guy. It says he cares about what he wears enough to take the time and effort to throw on an optional piece. It says he’s ok with standing out in a classy way. When it’s worn with the suit/tie combo, it also says that he anticipates having some work to do where a suit jacket might get in the way, but he still wants to look good while he’s working (or that he’s afraid his white shirt is a little too sheer and he wants to stay professional when he takes his jacket off).
I don’t know what exactly vests say to Pete. I do know that he has been pointing out vests lately and musing over the possibilities of wearing one. Thus began my search for the perfect vest pattern. I started with a Vogue pattern that I found on sale, but quickly realized it had way too many features I didn’t want, and for some reason (which I don’t specifically recall now), it seemed difficult to strip down to just the basic vest shell. So, I started over with a Burda pattern.
I measured Pete, then checked the pattern, then held the pattern up to him. Something wasn’t computing. He matched the measurements on the pattern, and when the tissue was pin fit, it still seemed to fit with no alterations. That seemed unnatural to me, but I didn’t know what I would change, so I cut it out just like the pattern said. I made it up, thinking it would be just a muslin, hopefully a wearable one since I used real fabric. Pete looked at me like I was crazy when I said this. He’d never heard of muslin, having never (as far as I know) read anything in the historical romance category, particularly not the type where the heroine wears/buys muslin, nor having sewn for himself other than putting buttons back after they’d fallen off. Turns out, he really does fit into this pattern with no alterations.
If I could change one thing about the way this vest turned out, it would be those front points.
I’m thinking that possibly my cutting was less than accurate. I took a shortcut and tried to cut under the correct line on a multi-sized pattern, possibly with less success than I had thought. Now that I know it fits, I’ll make sure I trace off the pattern to use next time (and possibly a few more times after that). Also, I’m thinking that possibly my fashion fabric stretched more than did the lining, which would make sense since the area that doesn’t seem to be laying right has some curve/bias to it. Perhaps some stay-stitching or stay tape along that area would help to stabilize things and prevent uneven stretching and rolling.
I have a piece of grey wool suiting for a second one. As it gets closer to fall, I plan to make it up for him. In the meantime, he is asking for a more casual version. I’m assuming his plan with a casual one would be to wear it with his usual Levi’s 559 jeans. The question now is what to make it from. Most suiting fabrics seem more on the dressy side to me. Denim is out; he isn’t a denim vest kind of guy, even if he wasn’t planning to wear with denim jeans. Linen maybe? Some type of canvas fabric?