The Dictionary of Fashion History Cover Image

The Dictionary of Fashion History

Valerie Cumming, C. W. Cunnington and P. E. Cunnington

Table of contents

  • Vest


Dictionary entry

Page: 218

(F & M)

Period: 17th century onwards.

A term at first used for an under-waistcoat worn for warmth. Later, an undergarment worn next to the skin.

See Undervest.


Period: 1660s–1670s.

A knee-length coat with elbow sleeves, generally confined at the waist by a sash or buckled girdle, and always worn under a tunic or surcoat. This tunic and vest, mainly a court fashion in England, was the forerunner of the coat-and-waistcoat style and the origin of the man’s suit.

Period: 19th century onwards.

Synonymous with waistcoat; the American term is still “vest”.


Period: 1794 into 19th century.

A short, sleeveless bodice of varying design, worn with full evening dress.

Period: Early 19th century.

A term for the French long corset. “New invented Parisian vests…made of rich French Twillet, with double cased bones that will never break. The form of them is particularly elegant, by a Reserve on the peak…(which) has the pleasant and very essential effect of keeping the gores…in the proper position, and obviates that unpleasant rucking and chafing that is in all the long corsets that have been invented…” (Advert., July 3, 1802, Norfolk Chronicle).