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The Rise of the Waistcoat

February 20th, 2012

After attending the recent Christening of a friend’s child, I noticed that all but two of the men attending were wearing waistcoats. The two without seemed decidedly out of place and underdressed. I cast my mind back to previous Christenings and couldn’t recall a single waistcoat being worn. I’ve trawled through our records to see if there has been a trend forming and this observation appears to be overwhelmingly backed up by what our customers have been buying. In 2008 C&D was making a waistcoat for 1 in every 20 customers; at the end of 2011 we were making for 1 in every 3.

So, why the sudden resurgence of the long-time unpopular, or certainly under used, waistcoat? For our wedding customers a three-piece clearly makes a lot of sense: something to add to the sense of occasion and make the groom stand out for the crowd, so naturally the ratio here is high. For our wedding customers we make a waistcoat for almost 1 in every 2 customers. This obviously skews the stats, but doesn’t account for the entire trend.

Our City customers are indeed also adopting the trend. There’s certainly been a push from celebs sporting the waistcoat (take Gary Barlow every Saturday night, or Tom Ford on an afternoon stroll through LA), but from conversations with customers this isn’t what’s swaying them. It’s more than that.

The fact is that a waistcoat does look good – it’s smart, sharp and masculine, but fell from popularity in recent decades as the work place became more relaxed and casual. The resurgence seems to come from the fact that the work place isn’t quite so relaxed or casual in London anymore – people are hanging on by their teeth and doing what they can to make sure they’re not the one under the chopping block. The trend is simple: when times are tough, people smarten up. The simple waistcoat, it appears, is what London’s businessmen are banking on to smarten up their image and make sure that it’s not their seat that is in danger.