We are beginning to build a chronology of vests. HBC has noted the vest in the 18th century, I'm not sure just went it first appeared are what garment it may have evolved from. Vests have been widely worn by men and boys since at least the 18th century. The vest was initially part of a suit. Vests were very common with suits in the 19th century. Suits were worn with vests through the late 19th century. There were significant changes in the color of the vests worn as the century progressed. Suits in the early 19th century varied widely. There was still no mass production of clothes, leading to greater variety of styles. Suits and vests were still widely worn in the early 20th century, but after World War I declined in popularity. They were worn with very formal suits, but most boys' suits were two-piece rathr tham three pice by the 195os. The garment has continued into the 21st century, although the popularity has come and wained over time. The modern vest is primarikly a boy;s garment to be worn rather than a suit jacket rather than with it.
Vests have been widely worn by men and boys since at least the 18th century. The vest was initially part of a suit. This was not a specifically boys' style as boys until late in the century just wore scaled-down versions of their father' suits. These suits might be in a wide range of colors. Commonly these vests matched the suit, but vests were also worn in contrasting colors.
Suits were worn with vests through the late 19th century. There were significant changes in the color of the vests worn as the century progressed. Suits in the early 19th century varied widely. There was still no mass production of clothes, leading to greater variety of styles. Suits were worn with and without vests. Vests in both matching and contrasting colors. Especially at the beginning of the century, bright colored suits and vests might still be worn, but not as commonly as in the 18th century. Colors for suits became increasingly muted as the century progressed.
By mid century, dark suits were very common. Our information on vests is limited, but we note many vests at mid-century which contrasted with the suit. How common they were and the cnventions associated with wearing them we are not sure. We note vests in many colors as well as bright patterns like plaids. A good example is an unidentified American boy in 1847. Another example at about the same times show an unidentified American boy weaering a vest that matches his jacket, but not his trousers.
Suits became much more sober in the late-19th century. Usually dark colors were worn. Suits with vests were common, although the vest might be more commonly worn in the winter and summer. Vests in contrasting colors do not appear to be very common. An exception appears to have been tht some British schools allowed the upper classmen to wear brightly colored vests of their own choosing with their usually pain colored school uniforms.
By the early 20th century, suits with vests were still widely worn--especilly better suits. The were becoming less common than during the late 19th century. They were still normally the same color as the suit. By the mid-20th century, vests were the exception rather than the rule. Only the most formal suits came with vests. By the end of the century, the standard vest with a suit was becoming unusual. Boys in the late 20th century began wearing a vest and tie without a suit jacket as a dressy outfit--often during the summer. This was a style for younger boys. Both short and long pants were worn with vests.
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main vest page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Cloth and textiles] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Girls] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web chronological pages:
[Early 19th century] [Mid-19th century] [The 1860s] [The 1870s] [The 1880s] [The 1890s]
[The 1900s] [The 1910s] [The 1920s] [The 1930s] [The 1940s] [The 1950s] [The 1960s] [The 1970s] [The 1980s]
Navigate the Historic Boys' Clothing Web style pages:
[Skeleton suits] [Eton suits] [Norfolk jackets] [Kilts] [Knicker suits]
[Blazers] [Short pants suits] [Long pants suits]