We quite often get asked why the bottom button of a waistcoat is left undone.
There are a number of interesting theories regarding this tradition. Here are the 4 most likely reasons:
Prince of Wales' weight gain: This is the widely regarded as the most accurate explanation.
The theory goes that Edward VII (known as the Prince of Wales before becoming King) became so overweight that he could no longer fasten the bottom button of his waistcoat. In response, the court and others allegedly followed suit to make him feel more comfortable about his body image.
Victorian Era Dandies wearing multiple waistcoats: Another theory suggests that fashionable dandies would wear two waistcoats simultaneously, leaving the bottom button of the outer waistcoat undone to reveal the one underneath. This style was supposedly adopted to showcase their attention to detail and layering.
Equestrian comfort: The third theory proposes that leaving the bottom button of the waistcoat undone was related to equestrian activities. By doing so, the waistcoat would not ride up the chest while riding, ensuring greater comfort in the saddle.
Influence of Eton's Pop club members: The last theory suggests that the tradition originated among members of Pop, an exclusive club at Eton College. It is believed that these affluent young individuals, who later became good customers of Savile Row (a renowned tailoring street in London), adopted the style as an affectation, and it was subsequently embraced by the tailoring industry.
Disclaimer ! It's important to note that (like many theories) they have emerged from various sources, anecdotes, or historical observations. The true origin of leaving the bottom button undone on a waistcoat might be challenging to pinpoint definitively, as fashion trends often develop through a combination of practicality, personal preferences, and cultural influences.