Section: Men's Style - Blog
When it comes to suits, fit is king - style is queen. It’s the key to your confidence and comfort. Oh, you probably own one good suit. However, it may not be appropriate for all occasions or styled to flatter you perfectly. Before you invest more money in suits that may be epic fails, learn how to suit up in style without emptying your bank account.
Let's jump right into this important subject. Here's what you need to know when selecting your next suit's style so you can make sure you are dressing to flatter your body shape.
If you're under 6 ft. in height, we recommend you do not buy a 3-button men's suit jacket as the shortened frontal “V” of the 3-button configuration can make you look shorter. Tall men can pull off a 1, 2 or 3 buttoned suit jacket, but a 1-buttoned suit on a taller man can look too casual due to the elongated frontal “V.” In general, shorter men should stick to 1 or 2 buttons on their suit jacket.
Are you thin? Then you should wear a slim fit suit with thinner lapels (2 to 2.5” wide) and thinner pocket flaps. However, if you are stocky, a slim fit suit with thin lapels can make you look like you've just tried to squeeze into something a few sizes too small. Not. A. Good. Look.
Conversely, if you're a slimmer guy, then a relaxed fit makes your suit look like there's room for two inside or as if a pushy sales guy sold you something that didn't fit.
The rule of thumb? The thinner you are, the greater the need to slim down the suit's cut, lapels and pocket flaps. The stockier you are, the more you need a relaxed fit, and the wider the lapels (3” wide) and pocket flaps should be. Getting the best look for your men's suit is all about maintaining equal proportions.
There are three lapel types you can pick from for your suit jacket:
The notch lapel is the most conservative and a safe bet for the workplace. It's the lapel that looks like a small triangle was cut out. The peak lapel is also suitable of the workplace, but is more popular for special occasions like wedding suits and suits for the races. In a work environment, the peak lapel is a point of differentiation, making your suit jacket stand out from a sea of commonplace suits.
Finally, the shawl lapel is a continuous curve with no angles - often featuring a satin covering. This lapel style is almost exclusively reserved for formal clothes such as dinner jackets and tuxedos; hence, you almost never see a shawl lapel on a business suit.
There are two main variations to your suit's jacket pockets:
While straight pockets are cut horizontally against your body, slant pockets are cut on a slight upward angle. Selecting a pocket style for your suit jacket comes down mostly to personal choice; however, straight pockets are considered a more traditional pocket style and tend to suit those with larger frames.
An extra accent to both pocket styles is the addition of a smaller “ticket pocket”. Located just above the right pocket and roughly half the width, the ticket pocket was originally used for storing train tickets, but is now more of a trendy fashion option as opposed to utility.
Many men overlook the importance of their suit lining. Linings are not just functional; they add flair and individuality to a jacket. An exquisitely patterned lining turns an average suit jacket into an extraordinary suit jacket. Linings should always be made from cellulose fibres like Bemberg ‘silk,' which combines the carefree ease and breathability of cotton with the soft, luxurious feeling of silk.
Traditionally, surgeon's cuffs on the sleeve of a suit jacket were for utility, thus allowing the surgeon to roll up his sleeves before getting down to work. Today, however, working sleeve cuffs are a signature mark of a custom tailored suit or bespoke suit.
This is because once the button hole is cut, the suit jacket's sleeves can no longer be adjusted up or down. Sartorially savvy men often leave the last button undone on a sleeve with surgeon's cuffs as a subtle signal to others that their suit is custom made or bespoke.
Handcraft stitching is a beautiful accent to your suit jacket's lapels. Handcraft stitching is recognised as a hallmark of a skillfully handmade custom suit, as it requires the master tailor to insert each stitch by hand, while taking extra care to ensure each stitch is the same size and width apart. This is a skill honed over years of practice to ensure a high level of precision.
Beware: Often cheaper jackets “fake” the handcraft stitch look by simply using a sewing machine to create the stitches. An easy way to spot fake handcraft stitching is to see if there are stitches on the underside of the lapel, or check to see if the stitches are too consistent or perfect. When done by hand, there will always be slight variations, and the stitches will never be visible on the underside of the jacket's lapel.
When it comes to your suit jacket's rear vent, you have three options:
Thinner gents tend to choose centre vents while those with larger frames opt for side vents. However, we're noticing a trend for jackets to have side vents regardless of body size.
For tightly fitted jackets, it is safer to choose side vents because with a single vent, you risk an unsightly split showing in the centre. Styling a suit with no vents is, of course, an option, but it is one rarely made by most men.
There are three options for your trousers' pleats:
Trousers with flat fronts (no pleats) offer a visually appealing look as they streamline the silhouette, and thus flatter slimmer men with a slightly tighter fit than the other trouser front styles. This is also the most modern look.
Single pleat styles allow more give than the flat front styles and are a comfort-oriented style. Older gentlemen may prefer this style. Double pleats are perfect for larger men that require more give in their trousers. This style is very comfort oriented and gives a “baggier” appearance to the trouser.
An increasingly popular option is to include an additional vest (waistcoat) to create a 3-piece suit. Not only does the vest (waistcoat) help you nail that sleek “Wall Street” look, it also comes in handy during the winter months when extra warmth is welcomed.
You can wear it separately with other garments outside of the office and leverage its versatility. In fact, you'll find that the same vest purchased as part of a 3-piece business suit can easily transform from professional looking into a smart casual look instantly.
For example, simply wear the vest over top a crisp white shirt with dark jeans and black leather shoes. More and more men are choosing the 3-piece suit because of these versatilities that extend their wardrobe options while maximising their monetary investment.
Are you thinking “Whoa! How am I ever going to find a suit style that has everything that suits me?” Well, don't fuss. The answer is easier than you think.
Just think outside the square; instead of shopping for a men's suit off-the-rack, look for a local tailor that specialises in custom tailored suits or fully bespoke suits. If you live in the US or Canada, the Custom Tailors & Designers Association (CTDA) contains a list of good custom and bespoke tailors.
When you buy your next suit from a custom or bespoke tailor, then you'll be able to pick and choose the exact styling options that suit you (and probably many more than what we've listed here). Your local tailor will advise you as to which styles and fabrics to select. But best of all, your suit will be made to measure meaning in addition to being styled exactly the way you want, it will fit you perfectly.
If you live in or around the Sydney area, the men of Montagio have done the styling homework for you. They are up-to-date on the latest fashions and trends yet understand all the nuances of an elegant, dignified look as well. Book an obligation free styling session with us and let us design a garment that suits your lifestyle and your work style perfectly.
For more general styling information for men visit Ask Men.
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