By 1700, many waistcoats became much shorter, with skirts reaching above the knee, and few had collars or sleeves. Waistcoat styles designed for sporting purposes did away with any skirt almost completely. As the waistcoat became short it also became more and more cut away in a curve at the front to reveal the wearer's breeches. Whereas elaborately embroidered waistcoats were fastened with hooks and eyes, the majority were fastened with buttons that would match those of the coat being worn.
Double-breasted waistcoats were the most popular style during the first few decades of the eighteenth century and featured small pockets with flaps. By the middle of the century, rather than following the older style of having cuff-length sleeves, the majority of waistcoats were sleeveless; skirts were much shorter and by 1790 were cut square to the waist. Toward 1800, decorated single-breasted waistcoats with small lapels became fashionable; fabrics with horizontal or vertical stripes were particularly favored, especially if the waistcoat was finished with a silk trim.
By 1800, the waistcoat had become an increasingly decorative and flamboyant addition to the male wardrobe. Through various style trends at the time, the overriding principle was that as long as a waistcoat was highly conspicuous, ostentatious, and embroidered, it was deemed fashionable. Single-breasted, double-breasted, waist-length, square-cut, roll-collared, low stand-collared and flap-pocketed styles all were worn. Dandies at the time even took to wearing two waistcoats at once. One would be as elaborate as the other, with the upper unbuttoned to show the one underneath.
Generally speaking, after the mid-nineteenth century, waistcoats became much more sober. The majority were produced to match the jackets or suits they would be worn with, rather than being outward expressions of originality and wealth.
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