We have not yet acquired enough information about vests to understand trends in very many countries. The vest was a ubiquitous garment worn by men and boys in many different countries. We believe that it was very common throughtout Europe to wears vests in the 19th century. There were country differences. Vests were somewhat less common in southern Europe because it was warmer and probably because of lower income levels. We have begun to build some individual country pages, such as the German vest page. Vests were also common in America. We note an unidentified American boy wearing a colorful plaid vest in 1847. We note another American boy with a plain vest about the same time. We note unidentfied boys wearing vests in short jackets about 1850. By the late-19th century the vests more commonly matched the suit. A good example is Frank Baily about 1915.
A popular suit component was the vest or waistcoat as it is called in Britain. The vest was an otional suit component. Three-piece suits were common in the 19th century and even early 20th century. Normally vests in the mid-19th century contrasted with the vest. At the time it was also not common for jackets and trousers to match. Color informtion is difficult top obtain for the 19th century. We do, however, notice some bright colors. Later in the decade it was more common for the vest to match the suit, especially after suits became matching jackets and trousers. Many suits were three-piece suits meaning that a vest was included. This has become much less common since World War II. We know less about vests than the other suit components for the obvious reason that they were normally covered by the boys' coat and it became very common by the late 19th century to buton up jackets so the vests were not vissible. We see very few examples of boys wearing vests without suit jackets in the 19th century. This began to change in the md-20th century. We see many boys wearing vests instead of a suit jacket as a kind of alternate outfit for younger boys. We note an unidentified American boy wearing a colorful plaid vest in 1847. We note another American boy with a plain vest about the same time. We note unidentfied boys wearing vests in short jackets about 1850. By the late-19th century the vests more commonly matched the suit. A good example is Frank Baily about 1915.
Englisg biys also wore three-piece suits. The three-piece suits came with vests. The British use the term waistcoats. (Vests meant undershirts in England. In fact this was also the case in America during the early-20th century.) We are not sure this was the case in the 19th century. Vests were, however, especially common in the 19th century. Quite a large portion of the boys wearing suits wiore them with vests in the 19th century. Our English archive, however, is not large enough to make any valid estimate as to prevalence, but we would say more than half. Our information on the early-19th century is limited. We first notice jackets and vests at mid-century. Many of the mid-19th century vests were done in bright colors and patterns that contrasted with the suits. This changed (1860s). We see suits with matching jackets and pants as well as vests. A good example is an unidentified Lincoln boy. We also notice the Smith boys wearing cut-away jackets with vests in the 1860s. The vests by this time were normally made of the same material as the jacket and trousers. Vests were very common both for regular wear and school uniforms. (In the 19th century it was only private schools that had school uniforms.) After the turn-of the 20th century we see fewer boys wearing vests with suits. And they entirely disappearted at school after World War I. We are not entirely surch why this change occcurred, but suspect it was peimarily aart of the general trend toward informality that evolved in the 20th century. We notice English boys commonly wearing vested suits in the 19th century.
We note three different types of vests in Germany: suit vests, sweater vests, and separate vests. The most common were suit vests. Standard suits were composed of jackets and pants. Many suits came with vests, but they were an optional item. We first notice them being worn with cut-away jackets in the mid-19th century. They were worn with many oter types of suits. We note many images of German voys wearing vests in the 19th centuy. As they were worn with jackets, it is frquently difficult to make out much detail. Almost always they were worn with suits. Vess with suits seem to become less common after World War I (1914-18). Boys might wear vests without jackets, but this was more of a mid-20th century style. We do not notice boys wearing vests without jackets during the 19th century or even the early 20th century. The earliest example we note is from the 1930s and even this was more of a sweater. We do note boys wearing vests as kind of a formal outfit in the 1970s.
two unidentified German brothers in 1864.
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