Web Japan >   Trends in Japan >   Fashion >  Vest Is Best

Vest Is Best

Gilets Offer an Easy Way To Dress Up an Outfit


Combining a vest with a tie. ©BUGSY AREA MARKET

Vests (waistcoats) are enjoying growing popularity among fashionistas of both genders. The garments first appeared in street fashions a few years ago, when trendsetters found them in vintage clothes shops and began using them to create their own distinctive looks. Since then, they have become a standard item in the wardrobes of younger generation.

Vests for Men
The Japanese word for vest is chokki, but today these garments are often referred to by the English word vest or the French gilet. Vests started out as decorative garments worn under jackets by Western European men in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By the second half of the nineteenth century, three-piece suits comprising jacket, vest, and pants had become standard business attire. The outfits subsequently made their way to Japan, where well-heeled men adopted them as everyday wear.


A vest as part of a layered look. ©BUGSY AREA MARKET

At first, vests were worn only by men and only under jackets or other outerwear. Later, they were incorporated into uniforms for schoolgirls and female office workers, increasingly worn without a jacket to become popular style among women.

The current trend especially for men is to wear a black or gray semi-tailored vest over a T-shirt or other casual top, and then often worn over tight-fitting pants, boots, and sunglasses or another accessory, which are designer goods favoured by men.

Vests are perfect for warmer weather, when jackets and blousons are too hot but T-shirts alone look too casual, so that the demand for them is likely to continue to grow. The expanding range of styles today includes dressy vests in tartan or with satin hems, casual vests made out of denim or leather, and sporty vests with a hood.


Vests are also popular among women. ©MARUHA

...and Vests for Women
This spring, the combination of a frilly or lacey dress with a vest was a hit among women. The vests are effective in toning down the feminine look and provide the attractive accent for an outfit. Their popularity carried over through the summer, and they are expected to remain an indispensable item in the fall and winter. To look boyish or sporty is getting their attention, fashion-conscious women create outfits with masculine shirts and vests in darker colors over shorts or jeans.

At present, most vest devotees are young, but since formal men's vests and elegant looking women's vests have been available, and it is likely only a matter of time before they catch on among men and women of all ages. (October 2008)