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Football continues to score in the world of fashion with an iconic waistcoat becoming the latest must wear accessory inspired by England coach Gareth Southgate.
It started, as reported in FashionWeekly, with Nigeria’s zigzag kit being snapped up from stores across the globe, but who could have imagined that one of the few articles of clothing whose origin historians can date precisely would make a comeback in extra time.
King Charles II of England introduced the waistcoat as a part of correct dress after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660. It was derived from the vests seen by English visitors to the Middle East.
British retaliler Marks and Spencer, the official suit supplier of the England team, has reported a 35 per cent increase in waistcoat sales since the World Cup Finals in Russia started and have dubbed it ‘The Southgate Effect’.
The 47-year-old coach favours a well-tailored three-piece suit on the touchline and is often seen shedding the jacket to reveal a single-breasted waistcoat which is now his lucky garment following England’s staggering success in reaching tonight’s semi-final.
The navy wool waistcoat, which can be snapped up from Marks & Spencer’s official Football Association Collection for £65, is part of the three-piece suit designed for this year’s team priced at £264.
It’s crafted from pure merino wool woven by the Alfred Brown mill in Yorkshire, which also supplied the fabric for England’s 2014 World Cup suits and for the Team GB uniform for the 2012 London Olympics. The suit has a gold star embroidered on the inside pocket as a memento to England’s 1966 World Cup win, a jacquard football lining, and red, white and blue trims.
Apparently, the British multinational retailer isn’t the only brand that’s noticed a surge as eBay, an online auction and shopping website, has also reported a 25 per cent increase in searches for waistcoats and tailoring label TM Lewin tweeted that sales of the piece were ‘going through the stadium roof’.
In terms of colours, navy has piqued the most interest as it’s the favoured shade of the England coach.
Although Gareth has brought new life to the waistcoat, especially as fans always want to emulate their idols, it is understandable why this would be his item of choice. The garment is known for framing the body to positive effect and it’s an easy way of smartening up an outfit as well as elevating the shirt.
My husband, Sam, has been a trendsetter for years, colour blocking and changing up his looks simply with the addition of a waistcoat over trousers or denim in grey, charcoal, black or Gareth’s favourite - navy. He either pairs it with a tie or leaves his shirt collar open for a more casual appeal.
George Hilton, a wardrobe consultant at Hilton Bespoke which is located in Zinj, Manama and Juffair, with plans to open up in the Diplomatic area too, believes the waistcoat has always remained a staple favourite for many customers.
He said: “Certainly what’s happening in the World Cup right now is turning into a trend and because of it, people are noticing the waistcoat more than before. However, I have had many clients coming into our stores from way back when.
“The item received a big boost in recent years from another former footballer. People often handed me images of David Beckham because he often wears three-piece suits and waistcoats and he remains a fashion icon.
“That being said, sales have always been regular. Men love the waistcoat because of its slimming effect, in my opinion. Men like to dress up in a three-piece because it looks stylish particularly for special occasions.
“Nowadays they also like combining different coloured vests to create a more elegant and dapper look.”
Ladies are also long-time supporters of the fashion trend. Designers such as Prada, Céline and Tom Ford have featured the style in their spring/summer 2018 catwalks. This latest waistcoat revival is office-appropriate - either worn fitted over fine knitwear or longer in length and teamed with trousers or a midi skirt.
This season, both Chloé and Victoria Beckham offered different versions of it while Stella McCartney displayed both denim and grey-tailored versions for autumn/winter 2018. David’s former Spice Girl wife styles hers with matching pinstripe trousers.