We covered the basics of How To Buy a Suit here, and now it’s time to dive deeper into different suit styles. A suit is a vital piece of personality, we dare say, in a man’s wardrobe. Some want it to give them a sleek formal look, some want it give them a stylish casual look and some want it to be a part of their daily lives but without monotony. There are several ways of distinguishing men’s suit designs and we are going to cover them here based on their source of origin, buttons and fit (to understand the differences better, read about the Details Of A Jacket).
ENGLISH VS AMERICAN VS ITALIAN SUIT CUT
Traditionally based on the region, suits have been of three types – American, Italian and English. These suits primarily differ from each other in the way they lend structure to the wearer’s physique.
- English style – catering to the traditional high class comprising of the the royalty and military of the colonial era, the tailors at the famed Savile Row in London had a task of creating garments that would match the elegance and tradition of the British and yet be practical to use daily. The result was a form of the suit different from the tailcoat ones prevalent then and that holds a prominent place in menswear even today.
These British traditional suits were cut in a shape close to the body and were known for their well structured look, which was important to project the discipline of the noble families and military. They were either single or double breasted with two to six buttons, flap pockets, side vents and came with high-waisted pants. They had stiff canvas and padded shoulders and were made with a heavy fabric to survive the royal weather.
- Italian style – Not too much about the tradition and structure but style and comfort, the Italian suit style was mainly pioneered by Giorgio Armani, Brioni and Ermenegildo Zegna, the exact guys who charge a high premium today for being responsible for this legacy the fashion world adorns.
Known for their sleek look and cuts closer to the body, these were single-breasted slim fit suits with lightweight fabric and canvas. They have lightly padded shoulders, two buttons, jetted pockets and no vents. They have pronounced front V-shape near the lapels and fit nicely at the waist and come with tapered pants that complemented the slim fit design of the suit. Italian suits are particularly well suited to the tall and slim men.
- American style – Pioneered by the Brooks brothers and produced for the working class population, the traditional American style suit was the least luxurious and fashionable of all.
These were somewhat loose fitted suits with a single back vent and no padding for shoulders. They were single-breasted with two or three buttons, flap pockets and have a loose sleeve fitting. If you are wondering why they were made like this, well so that they could be mass produced in factories for the service class.
Even though these were some earlier characteristics, suits these days can be seen to have mixed influence from all of them and the differences between them have blurred. While Italian style is preferred for its stylish youthful look, the British style is preferred by those who are traditional or mature but want something sharp to match the stature.
SINGLE BREASTED VS DOUBLE BREASTED SUIT
Depending on the number of buttons and the front overlap, a suit can be single or double-breasted.
A single-breasted jacket has a single row of buttons that can range from one to three and have a slight front overlap. They can be structured or have a sleek fit depending on the style. This is a versatile style that is used both for formal and casual suits.
A double-breasted suit is always worn in a formal setting and has a sophisticated old-school gentleman charm to it, and perhaps because of this manly feature associated with it, few people can pull this off. They have two rows of button, usually six or eight, and have a sufficient front overlap. They also have a tendency to bring attention to the mid-section of the body, so avoid wearing them if you are not confident about that area. Keeping in mind the formality level, this suit is always buttoned. While double-breasted style is common for winter coats, it is much less popular for suits.
Finally, do not forget to accessorize the outfit. No matter what the occasion, business or casual, you can always find something from this list of accessories or a tie to complement your suit. (Related: How To Tie A Tie)
SLIM FIT VS REGULAR FIT VS MODERN FIT SUIT
A regular fit is the straight cut with plenty of room inside the jacket. Though it is supposed to have a loose fitting, that is by no means baggy. It is still cut according to your size. The pants, too come in a straight cut and sit comfortably on the waistline.
A slim fit jacket is what style is associated with (think Italian suit) and this style sits very close to the body shape, trimming away the extra fabric. This style also accentuates the v-shape of the upper body nicely and looks good on lean body types. The pants also fits the leg nicely and are not lose. Do not make them very fitted however, as that can make the upper and lower body look disproportionate.
As always, there is a compromise and a modern fit suit is just that. It is not as well-fitted as a slim fit suit but provides a better and tighter look than the regular fit suit.
Other than these, there are some general rules of wearing a suit that are good to know.
- For two button suit, button the top button and unbutton when seating. Never close the bottom button of the jacket.
- For a three button suit, keep the middle button always fastened no matter standing or sitting, bottom button open and top as per choice.
- For one button suit, keep it fastened and unbutton while seating.
- Always button up the top button of the shirt when wearing a tie.
- Slimmer guys should choose to get their jackets made with broad lapels to broaden their shoulders.
- Slimmer guys should keep a single vent to keep the slim look while larger guys should go for two vents for easy movement.
Do check out the Details Of A Suit Jacket too, and next time someone asks you what suit you are wearing, then instead of just saying the brand (which tells nothing about the suit type) tell them ‘exactly’ what suit you are wearing. If the person is a menswear aficionado, he’ll appreciate your knowledge, and if he’s not then then he’ll still appreciate your thought-after decision.