The Two-Out-of-Three Piece Suit

November 24th, 2011

The best part about a 3-piece suit is the variety of ways you can wear it.

One of my go-tos is the waistcoat and trousers without the jacket. It’s slightly less formal than a full suit but still office appropriate and much cooler and more suave than a simple shirt and tie.

Here’s a few examples.

    1. Casual Friday

    A waistcoat is a British term, it helps distinguish this article of clothing from a vest, which in my mind is a v-neck sweater without sleeves.

    Bonus Tip: Know the culture of your office – but if shirts and ties are the norm, nobody should have a problem with you trading in your tie for a waistcoat. If it’s okay with your superiors, you will be more comfortable and I promise the ladies in your office will take note.

    Bonus Tip II: Waistcoats with lapels can look dressier and better imitate a jacket. Yes, you can still wear it under a jacket. No, the lapels on the jacket don’t have to be the same style.

    Bonus Tip III: Checks on checks. Different scales. Expressive tailoring.

    • Tortoise shades by Matsuda Eyewear
    • Watch by Montblanc Timewalker Automatic
    • Red/grey plaid shirt by Ralph Lauren Polo
    • Grey windowpane trousers
    • Grey windowpane vest
    • Brown leather wingtips by Scarpe di Bianco
    • Black alligator watch band by Montblanc

    2. Tailored Weekend

    It doesn’t have to look dressy.

    With a rugged tweedy fabric and a more casual top (like this band collar number, or a washed shirt, henley, sweater, etc) you have a sophisticated but still relaxed and manly weekend outfit for the Fall.

    3. Fancy Evening

    Back in the day when you put up a jumpshot and you knew it felt good you would look at your defender and say “Cash”.

    A turtleneck under a waistcoat & trousers is kinda like that – it’s a look that you just know is on point (if you have the Spaldings to pull it off, of course).

    Bonus Tip: Make sure the sweater is thin enough to tuck into your trousers and long enough that it will stay tucked.

    Bonus Tip II: Rich oxblood shoes are badass and can be worn as if they were just a classic brown.

    Bonus Tip III: 3-piece suits, as well as double breasted suits, make more sense and look more appropriate in heavier Fall/Winter fabric – when you need the extra coverage.

    Thanks for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • Shimon Ebrahimian

      Nice lapels!

    • TTG

      Real nice job here. I’m a huge fan of a good waistcoat myself and agree with most of the tips here. My favorite looks are 3 and 6, great looks. And the chunky cardigan in 7 is just a beauty!

    • lisa uk

      hoho~it”s good.I just hope whoever witres these keeps writing more!

    • mary

      Cool man!
      More Clothes you can try

    • Rene

      May I suggest:

      Lapel a must.

      The back of the waistcoat must be the same material as the rest (i.e. not the silky fabric) Remember this will be worn without the jacket.

      Longer length than usual so your shirt don’t show when you are sitting down.

      • Thomas

        I disagree with Rene. Waistcoat with a silky back looks great without a jacket.

    • Victor

      You know what I do that I have never seen you do. I wear a double breasted sport coat unbuttoned, and a stripped waist coat with the matching pants. It looks boss.

    • mo

      This blog makes me wish I had a better paying job and the time to find well fitting “men’s” clothes.

      I want to dress like this everyday. Keep it up crew!

    • Jason

      A roll of one dollar bills? Baller.

    • Thom

      That red sweater jacket is just divine!

      Your choice in clothing really suits my tastes and I could really see myself owning similar pieces to yours. Being a financially-strapped college student, all I can do now is to drool at all of your pieces. Plus, I am only 20 and suits in college class settings won’t be practical in a crowd full of sweatpants.

    • agung

      Great job sir ! I’m the big fans of your style and your blog from Indonesia! Love it! :D(y)

    • Owen

      All I have to say is BOOOOOM!
      I’m a vest/pants advocate, great job sir.

    • Vidal

      You’ve done it again Dan! Another dope post! I’ve always loved 3pc suits for the versatility they offer, and the ones you flexed here are great! They also serve to remind me that my closet is sorely lacking in the waistcoat department…a situation I hope to rectify in the near future!

      Side point: Cargo suit pants? Who’da thunk it?
      And, as a card carrying member of ‘The Bowtie Revolution’, I am looking forward to the bowtie post you alluded to after look 6!

      All the best,

    • Connor

      Even though I realize you do this to inspire us to make our own decisions about style, I want so much of your clothing, unfortunately most of the things I want are the ones you got from MAB.

    • UrbanRenaissance

      How do you feel about a handkerchief do dress it up a little when a vest has a breast pocket? I do it regardless but I haven’t seen it anywhere else.


    • Jake

      “One way to make it last (in addition to buying a quality product, caring for it and making sure it fits and moves with your body properly) is to invest in a waistcoat. This way, if you want to wear the suit two or three times in one week, you can switch up the look of it and ‘know’ one will even notice” Should be no* :]

    • John Foster, III

      Love the red sweater

    • bestylist

      whatever it may be A three piece suit or a waistcoat and trousers without the jacket looks cool only if it suits you. dressing sensibly is very important.

    • Dani


      Honestly, it’s about time someone would sound the appreciation for the (what we call) vest!
      It’s one of THE sexiest pieces in a mans propper atire, and there’s no way I can decide which one I like the most btw looks 1-6. 7 however… I’m not sure about that dear…

    • jon

      Waistcoat + matching CARGO pants? That’s f*cking brilliant! Just awesome.

      I’d love to see the same idea, only instead of the waistcoat + pants it’d be a topcoat (like that brown moleskin one) + matching pants. And by see, I also kinda mean own. lol

    • JLouie

      I really like the trouser+waistcoat look, saving up to get my first custom 3 piece suit. What fabric would you suggest? Also, that sweater is super chunky, i love it. Wish i could find something as ridiculously chunky.

    • TO

      Looks 4-7 are on fire! Damn. Love the ingenuity in all of em.

    • Windsor

      Look 6 is money! – but for Look 7, I think you are off even though you say “It doesn’t have to look old or stiff.”

      Even with the slim tailoring, I still think it looks to “old mannish” If you take all “old man pieces” – grey flannel glen plaid, tassel loafers, chunky cardigan, rimmed glasses – and combine them you still cant break the stigma of this old man look. (unless that is what you are actually going for)

      Instead of “trying” to make these pieces look young and hip, why not dress in actually youthful/hip pieces – like your sneakers, and fur attached jean jacket look (that I love)…

    • l’élégant

      now this is style. wow Simple & Streamlined my respects


    • Sean

      Checks on checks on checks on checks.

    • cory

      Great post and great looks. Perfect timing for me too: I’ve been eyeing some tweed suit separates from Gant just so that I can wear the waistcoat and pants together.

    • Every Man’s Closet

      So I don’t know if the glasses you wore in your “Cash” picture were for effect? But they look really hot and you should wear them more often.

      But down to the clothes…love the fabric choice and combo in your “Suit Jacket Substitute” section. Its a nice demonstration of how a lighter fabric can be used year round if it is styled properly and a versatile weight.

    • cam

      I’m glad you decided to feature the “simple and streamlined” look bc its the best look here. Question on the waistcoat…the back…keep it the same fabric or silk? Happy Thanksgiving

    • Niraj

      Dig all the looks, but especially the last, very Thom Browne, if you will.

      Dan – much props to you on the site and for giving a lot of us “a style to run with”