As you noted, vests were private purchases. Military styles came in blue, light blue and white. White is very striking but it seems to be rare among reenactors. I wonder why... Civilian vests are a definite go. I have a grey pinstripe shawl-collared vest that's my favorite. Men wrote home for things all the time, and writing home for clothing articles was common.
Pine River Boys, Co I, 7th Wisconsin
"We're... Christians, what read the Bible and foller what it says about lovin' your enemies and carin' for them what despitefully use you -- that is, after you've downed 'em good and hard."
-Si Klegg and His Pard Shorty