The Victorian gent wore a variety of vests in every combination of cut, color and cloth. Chinese silk became ubiquitous and relatively inexpensive during the mid 1800s, and silk vests were very common for day and evening wear, an expressive flash of color in an otherwise monochromatic get up. Many men would wear their coats buttoned only at the top, thereby allowing more of their vests to be flaunted. Towards the turn of the century, wool and cotton (see below) vests in conservative colors became more common for day wear.
Although similar to the shirts we wear today, due to limitations in machining and tailoring Victorian shirts were cut more fully. They also often buttoned up the back. Shirts were washed less frequently, and as a result men wore band collar shirts, adding detachable collars and cuffs to smarten their look for formal occasions. Some even had removable bib fronts which were reversible, allowing stains to be hidden and thus staying neat in appearance without laundering the entire shirt.