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When dealing with vests and waistcoats, it’s important to know one from the other. While ‘waistcoat’ and ‘vest’ can be used interchangeably, we here at Rope Dye argue that a distinction should be made.The waistcoat a more formal, “smarter” garment – perhaps worn under a jacket, but never over one. It was first introduced into the court of King Charles II in 1866, though the Oxford English Dictionary records the term as far back as 1519. A vest, on the other hand, is more rough and ready. I am sure you will agree that although in essence the garments are the same, they are worlds apart.

In this Raw Denim Roundup we have put together some of our favourite waistcoats.

A waistcoat is a sleeveless garment that opens at the front with either a snap or a button closure. There is normally a lighter, satin fabric on the back to allow for both ease of movement and comfort when worn under a jacket – more often than not there is a buckle to bring in the waist.Gone are the days when a waistcoat was simply a corset for the overweight businessman. Nowadays we see loads of great examples of waistcoats; most of them can easily stand alone and entirely compliment an outfit without the need for matching jacket trousers.

Rising Sun & CoFirst up – and in no particular order of preference – is the Outdoor Vest from Rising Sun & Co.; here is a perfect example of the ambiguity between a waistcoat and vest. This one does sit right on the fence, however we feel that it should be classified as a waistcoat.

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It features a crescent opening to the front with a button closure and a buckle to the back for an adjustable fit. The overall fit is relaxed and being made of 9 oz. selvedge indigo dyed duck canvas from Cone Mills makes it perfect to be worn under a jacket if the occasion calls for it.

A beautiful feature is the use of the selvedge edge on the opening, one of the very rare occasions where selvedge detailing really works for a garment. Available through the Rising Sun & Co. webstore.

Livid JeansNext we have the Harald Waistcoat from Livid. It’s made from black selvedge denim sourced from Kurabo mills in Japan – and at 14 oz. this is on the heavier side for a waistcoat.

The cut and styling however gives it a very smart, contemporary feel. The Harald waistcoat is part of Livid’s Handmade line – the entire garment is hand crafted in Norway on single needle vintage sewing machines. The Harald is available through the Livid Jeans webstore.

Big JohnOne of the first jean manufacturers in Japan brings us this beautiful example of a contemporary waistcoat. Although they use the American English term vest we feel this is certainly falls under our definition of a waistcoat.

Made in herringbone wool and cotton blended fabric, fully lined, copper button fastening, two outer pockets with flap closures and one inside pocket. Available at SUN/SET/STAR.

Mister FreedomNo roundup of waistcoats would be complete without mentioning Mister Freedom.

It’s next to impossible to pick a favourite Mister Freedom waistcoat, and after you have finished reading this I encourage you to head over to the Mister Freedom page to check them all out.

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Pressed I would go for the El Americano. It comes in an indigo vat dyed corduroy it just edged ahead and finds a place in our roundup. It also features a 100% cotton sateen  grey/brown back panel, which beautifully offsets the indigo. It has seven coconut wood buttons. And a whole host of other beautiful features. Truly a unique piece and available through the Mister Freedom webstore.

Blue de GênesLast we have the Monta Kallo waistcoat from Blue de Gênes. I own this waistcoat and the tailoring and materials that go into it are fantastic.

Crafted in Italy from no less than five different 100% cotton fabrics, the Monta Kallo has a certain weight about it while retaining all the softness and drape you’d expect from such high quality fabrics. A difficult quality to describe and equally difficult to achieve, but Blue de Gênes achieve it perfectly. Available through the Peter Fields webstore.

Whatever your personal style, there will be one amongst this bunch that will add a smart touch to your well-loved denims.
All images courtesy of the named brands, aside from the Rising Sun Outdoor Vest taken from Archival Clothing. 

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