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Ladies' waistcoats are sleeveless upper-body clothes that have been associated with formal mens attire for centuries, but newer generations have embraced them as unisex clothing. Once considered formal attire, popular culture has assimilated them to such an extent that you can now buy womens waistcoats online for nearly any occasion. Used as casual wear rather than formal attire, ladies' waistcoats are excellent at bringing out the outline of the torso, slimming the waistline and slenderising the figure. They go very well with jeans and long trousers or skirts, and they provide extra warmth, whatever the season. They fall beautifully on the female figure, emphasising the neckline and bringing accessories into the spotlight.
We tend to take the versatile and fabulous womens waistcoats for granted. They're not just peppy undercoats made to tell caterers, bartenders and hospitality guild members apart. They've been around for centuries. First mentioned in Samuel Pepys' diary entry of 7 Oct. 1666, the waistcoat was initially referred to as a 'vest', as King Charles II had not found a term for it yet. It was tighter and shorter than the doublet it replaced, and by the end of the 17th century, every man wore this foundation garment. Gentlemen would keep their pocket watches in the front pockets of their waistcoats, so they became indispensable to many. Royalty would set a new trend by wearing a certain type of waistcoat or unfastening certain buttons, and then the masses would follow.
In the '60s, people wore mostly denim versions, which were warm, comfortable and casual. In the '70s, motion pictures like 'Saturday Night Fever' brought the formal waistcoat back into fashion. Then, in the 20th century, indie and steamp-punk trends brought the casual style back in fashion, and people of all ages and genders started to wear waistcoats over their T-shirts. High-visibility waistcoats are also currently worn by men and women, and some uniforms include a waistcoat. While most gentlemen reserve formal waistcoats for weddings and special occasions, snooker players, for instance, must always wear the garment when playing.
Womens waistcoats are not as demanding as the mens version in terms of styling. They're rarely used on formal occasions, and so they can be worn throughout the day and night. Leather waistcoats are a bit more exclusive, and they're usually worn by bikers or ladies who want to match them with flirtatious leather skirts or fetching pairs of leather trousers. Of course, denim goes very well with leather as well, and it's not unusual for ladies to match a pair of black or blue jeans with a leather waistcoat, or a denim waistcoat with a leather shorts. But these versatile garments can be made of any other material, from linen to silk, and many fashion brands combine several types of materials.
Waistcoats tend to make the shoulders look broader, so ladies with a heart-shaped figure, or with very broad shoulders can cover their shoulders with a coat. The lower the neckline, the more flattering a waistcoat is, bringing out the bust. Longer styles tend to de-emphasise the hips, so five-button varieties that extend below the waist, are ideal for pear-shaped ladies. Shorter ones create curves, and form-fitting styles with lace-up and hook fastenings are especially charming. Some go as far as imitating corsets and having intricate side splits, side fastenings, fringes, vertical seams, buckles and hooks at the back, ribbon or rope lacing, lace overlay and fur inserts. Waterfall waistcoats show off a slim waist, as do belts and other decorations across the torso of a simple waistcoat. Unlike men's' varieties, ladies waistcoats tend to be single-breasted, and it's not unusual for them to feature a zipper instead of a button placket, either.
Wherever you buy womens waistcoats from, be it in-store, online, from high-fashion brands or the high-street boutique, finding a pair of shoes, a handbag and some accessories shouldn't be much trouble. A silk waistcoat can be paired with high-heel shoes, a clutch bag, a simple blouse, a pair of suit trousers and simple gold necklaces and bracelets. A nice, pastel coloured, cotton, tailored waistcoat would serve a matching pair of suit trousers just as nicely. Denim longline waistcoats and cape waistcoats with very long fringes would match a pair of simple shorts or a lace summer dress splendidly. Crochet waistcoats are an excellent festival undercoat, and they can be accessorized with bangle bracelets, statement necklaces and chandelier earrings for a spectacular visual effect. Knitted or fur waistcoats can be coupled with just about any sweater and a pair of slouch boots.