Waistcoat/vest question

I could use some expert advice. I'm a beginner, looking for a waistcoat (which I think is called a vest in the USA). Next weekend my DP and I are giving a performance of two routines as part of a dance-school show. One of the dances is a Paso Doble: when I performed this before, I borrowed a waistcoat from a professional and I'd like to wear one again, but will I be OK in a non-dance-specific one? My concern is the amount of movement they allow and the possibility of it ending up round my ears. As I say I'm a beginner and I'll also be performing for a mostly non-ballroom audience, so the look is not a matter of life and death, but at the same time I'd rather not look like a sack of potatoes. Can I just buy a cheap one from the men's department or would I be better off going without than doing that? Advice appreciated.


Well-Known Member
Yes, a department store waistcoat should be fine. Since you don't have the shoulder/sleeve issue that you would with a store-bought jacket, riding up shouldn't be a big problem. Just make sure that it fits well -- not so tight that it's pulling at the buttons, and not so loose that you have to use the little belt thingy to cinch it in. Wear suspenders rather than a belt under it -- that'll give you a smoother line around the waist and keep the pants and shirt more in place, so the shirt doesn't poof out between the pants and vest (sorry, "trousers and waistcoat").
Hi - my Pro has also worn a waiter's vest for showcases- very inexpensive and they come in a variety of lengths. You can find them via internet or restaurant supply stores.


New Member
The biggest difference I find in ballroom vs traditional waistcoats is the length. If you look at most guys in ballroom they're using a longer than "standard" vest. Doing so smooths out the lines of your torso and makes you look a bit taller. The longer length also prevents your shirt from showing between your pants and waistcoat when you do something like lifting your arms above your head. Depending on what you're dancing that may or may not be a factor.

I'd say give the department store vest a try. When you try it on though, go through some of the figures you'll be dancing and make sure it fits/sits well.


Well-Known Member
Also, if at all possible, you want a fitted vest, not an adjustable one. The vests with the adjustment strap in the back will make you look fat.
I've got a vest. It is one of the adjustable ones, unfortunately, but apparently it looks OK. I did enjoy waving my arms about in the fitting room. :p Thanks again for all the advice.


Well-Known Member
If you have adjustable, make sure you wear a fitted shirt, or otherwise secure your shirttails inside your trousers. Those vests have a tendency to let the shirttails peek out under the strap.


Well-Known Member
I am currently having a go at making a longline ballroom vest like the one pictured. From the images on the internet, it seems that the length falls to about to the tip of the man's thumb when his arms are down - any comments? Is this a good length? Ideas for other lengths? How about the placement of the lowest button? Is it at hip height? Thanks!!

longline vest.jpg


Well-Known Member
Very nice! I generally prefer a vest over a coat for Smooth, because in a coat, my shoulders get bound up. It's also less bulky.

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