IT is the armless garment first made famous by King Charles II in notes by the famous diarist Samuel Pepys’ which was once required attire for businessmen everywhere. 

But now the humble waistcoat, consigned to the back of wardrobes for many years, is making a comeback thanks to the unlikely rise of England manager Gareth Southgate as a style icon.

The football coach, whose team take on Croatia today for a place in the World Cup final in Russia, has propelled the clothing item without which no three-piece suit would be complete back back into the fashion limelight thanks to his smart appearance on the touchline. 

And with England fans adopting the garment as their personal talisman in their hunt for football glory, it has now emerged that Mr Southgate's waistcoat is to be preserved for the nation with The Museum of London announcing plans to acquire one his suits as part of their permanent collection. 


Joining treasures from around the world, the plan is to display the garment at the museum's new building in the north of London. 

Beatrice Behlen, Museum of London Senior Fasion Curator said:"The Museum of London has a large fashion collection with garments ranging from the 16th century to the present.

"Our earliest waistcoat dates from the late 17th century, our most recent from 2014. This acquisition would be a fantastic addition to our holdings and would come at an exciting time for us while we build the London Collection as we plan the New Museum in West Smithfield."

The traditional three piece suit - trousers, jacket and waistcoat - was a key part of British fashion for centuries, with an integral role in men’s wardrobes until the 1960s. 

However, they have since fallen out of fashion with the rise of a more business-casual look. 

But the history of the waistcoat actually predates the business suit by several centuries, with the first example, which had sleeves, recorded by the 17th century writer and politician Samuel Pepys.


Samuel Pypes

Pepys, a regular at the royal court, recorded that King Charles II intended to set a new fashion with a "vest", which he would wear the next day.

While not quite a vest in the modern sense, the item as a departure from the frock cots popular at the time and is regarded as the first waistcoat.

Ms Behlen, added: "Waistcoats were born in London in 1666, promoted by King Charles II. The new fashion soon spread and for at least 300 years a three piece suit soon formed a key part of every man’s wardrobe. 

"Now Watford-born Gareth Southgate is reviving that London tradition and bringing waistcoats home to the forefront of fashion."

Fashions change over time, and during the 1750s the garment was shortened to the length familiar to suit-wearers and sports fans today.
Since then it has been cemented into British culture the waistcoat, although has undergone slight alterations. 

In the late 1800s it became popular to leave the bottom button undone, a fashion supposedly started by the courtiers who surrounded Edward VII, who was too rotund to do up his. 

The garment also retains royal connections of a darker sort in Scotland, with Jacobites said to toast the  "wee gentleman in the velvet waistcoat"  - in reference to moles - because of William of Orange's death after falling from a horse which had tripped on a molehill. 


William of Orange

A long-sleeved version of the waistcoat said to have belonged to Bonnie Prince Charlie, was featured by the National Museum of Scotland during last year’s Jacobites exhibition

But before fans of the England team get too carried away with making an icon out of Mr Southgate's wardrobe it should be remembered that the necktie - which no three piece suit should be without - was invented in Croatia.