-Kyle M. Stetz
I am not saying that all men discarded the same things but I think about my experiences. On a weeklong event, I was so sick of carrying my blanket in the heat that I nearly discarded it but knowing that I would soon be done with the event and would need it again there after I chose to keep it. Had the event been two more weeks, I would have discarded my $120 blanket, no questions asked. I was hot and miserable from the extra weight. Would I have discarded a vest? I don't know, but I didn't wear one because the heat was miserable. Did they discard them? I don't know. Maybe sent it home if it was worth it, but vests could be purchased ready-made and if one had a shoddy vest that was rotten from sweat and dirt, it wouldn't be a stretch to discard it or turn it into - dare I say, more useful - rags.
To answer the question, no you do not need to have a vest to be accurate. If your jacket is buttoned, the collar of one's shirt, the buttons, button holes, and especially the jacket materials are much more important and obvious places to improve an impression.
Kyle and others, I would caution one thing when we view images. Considering the cost and occasion of having ones image taken, it is reasonable (albeit, undocumented to my knowledge) to assume that one would display their best, i.e., combing their hair, ironing a shirt collar, checking their cravat in a mirror etc. In the image of the blacksmith, he wears his apron and proudly holds his hammer (important symbols of his trade) but his apron is down, showing his vest. He is posing for the picture rather than it being a candid shot. Does he wear THAT vest every day to work, or just on the days when he is having an image taken or delivers his goods to respected customers? Does he ALWAYS wear his apron down? Probably not, in the same way he may not have ALWAYS worn his hat when working, or ALWAYS worn that particular vest. When we view images, we have to ask if they are candid or posed, if posed, how much of reality is altered to give the best appearance?
Sometimes I wear vest, sometime I don't.
I kinda think we've beaten this horse to death a second time.
I appreciate the period images, they show us that "hard & fast" rules are neither, as has been pointed out by Mr. Smotherman.
It is interesting how a few years ago "authentic" events had rules specifying "no vests in the ranks." Some would say reenacting is subject to the dictates of fashion in two distinct time periods....
I like to wear a vest, I have a place for my pocket watch, hankerchief, money and anything else i might need.
I guess you could say they were dying to have their pictures taken in a vest... <g>
I figured as much.