“Waistcoat etiquette, why do many undo their lowest button?”
A question we've been asked by our other halves too many times!March 25th, 2016
Hmm, why indeed?
At first glance, you might be forgiven for thinking that this was an error on behalf of the wearer, however, it seems there are several possibilities as to why we follow this little quirk of etiquette. Here are some of Gruhme’s favourites.
Some experts from the world of tailoring believe we can trace this back to King Henry VIII. Apparently it was considered a massive insult to Henry because he couldn’t see his toes, never mind fasten the bottom button of his waistcoat. Rumour has it that his courtiers took it as a style ‘initiative’ and followed suit, making it the acceptable and fashionable way to button a waistcoat…..
…..or was it when the future Edward VII was Prince of Wales and he became so rotund that he couldn’t do up the bottom button on his waistcoat? Seemingly his courtiers also copied him in order to make him feel better! The same story has been attributed to both of these Royals so who knows which one is correct?
Another theory that doesn’t seem too outlandish is that once upon a time, young dandies would wear two waistcoats at the same time and they would leave the top waistcoat’s bottom button undone so that you could see the one underneath. In case you were wondering, a young dandy is a young man unduly concerned with looking stylish.
Or could it simply be a matter of comfort? Perhaps the button was undone whilst in the saddle in order to stop the waistcoat rising up the chest while horse-riding? Again, plausible.
Finally, was it the members of Pop, the exclusive club at Eton, who kept their bottom button undone as a sign of their membership? Was it then snapped up as a trend by Savile Row as these wealthy young men tended to become good customers? Definitely a lucrative observation.
The true origins of this quirky etiquette feature may never be established however, it’s certainly a lot of fun exploring all the possible reasons!
By the way, my money’s on Henry VIII….