The modern man's guide to the suit life – part two

Cary GrantIn part one we covered the basics of buying a suit, but suits are more than just well fitting clothing. There are a multitude of difference styles that differentiate one suit from another. Here are explanations of some of these styles.

Starting at the top of the jacket, the lapels. The label is the extension of the collar that lie flat on the front of the jacket. There are different styles, from a Notch style where a there is a triangular cutout where the collar meets the lapel. A higher notch gives the jacket the impression of length while the favoured style of Italian designers is to have the notch lower down. Another style is the peak lapel where it is designed in an upward and outward v shape. The general rule of thumb is the width of the lapel should match the width of your tie, and visa versa.

Arm-holes. Yes, you read that correctly, arm-holes. The joining of the sleeve with the body of the jacket. If the armhole is considered low, the sleeve joins the body of the suit lower than normal, the jacket will rise up when you lift your arms up so it is best to find a suit with higher arm-holes.

A jacket is all well and good but without pockets, the well dressed man will have no place to store a ladies telephone number. There are nearly always a large pocket on either side of the front of the jacket just about waist height. Often there will be a separate piece of material forming a flap over it. Another certainty will be the handkerchief pocket on the left side of the jacket, approximately over the heart. Depending on the cut and style, a suit may have several more pockets.

The jacket is kept from opening by the use of buttons. The button stance is the position of the top button on the jacket. It affects the lapel and how it lies. There are one, two and three button jackets. More than three button jackets should be avoided as they simply make the wearer look like they are trying too hard. On a three buttoned jacket, you have the option of buttoning the top two buttons (leaving the bottom one unbuttoned) or simply buttoning the middle button. You do not button the bottom button. The same applies with the two button suit, only use the top button.

There is a very simple rule to buttoning a suit. Undo the jacket when sitting down but otherwise, keep the buttons buttoned.

Suits can be bought with two columns of buttons but these designs are most often reserved for blazers.

Moving around the back of the jacket, there will probably be some slits in the material, called vents. There will be either one or two vents, or none at all. Most commonly found on suits are the two vent, with the one vent more often found on blazers and sports coats. No vent means that the jacket is more form fitting but not be as comfortable when sitting down or reach to the back pockets of the trousers.

On the side of the sleeve cuffs there will be a number of buttons. They may be fixed and purely decorative or functional. If they are functional, treat them as decorative and never undo them.

On the inside of the jacket, between the lining and the jacket material itself there is the canvas. The canvas helps give the jacket structure and helps prevent wrinkling. Cheaper suits has the canvas fused while the more expensive suits will full canvas.

Below the jacket will be the trousers. All trousers have front and back pockets, perhaps varying in style. The one choice you have with pants is whether to have flat fronted or pleated trousers. Flat fronted trousers are most popular at the moment but there appears to be a resurgence of pleated trousers styles.

With the jacket and trousers picked out, now is the time to choose the other pieces of your ensemble.

In a future article we will cover coordinating the colors of your garments to make sure you don’t clash at the bash!

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