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Style Guide: Men's Suit Jackets

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Section: Essential Men's Suit Guide - Blog

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The cornerstone of a man’s wardrobe is the suit, of course. The suit’s personality is defined by its jacket. The fit, the style, and the finishing details work together to produce an extraordinary look. Here’s an in-depth look at the suit jacket’s creation process.

Single Vs Double Breasted Suits

The noticeable aspect of a men's jacket is whether it is single or double-breasted.

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Single-breastedbusiness suits for men feature one row of buttons on the front with jacket flaps that overlap just enough to permit buttoning.

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Double-breasted suits have two rows of buttons with a front overlapping to allow the attachment of either flap to the buttons on the opposite side. Choosing between these options is a matter of personal taste.

Jacket Shoulders

The pupose of the suit jacket, business shirt, and tie is to frame and flatter your face to attract attention to it. So, it is here that shoulder width plays an important role.

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Wide, excessively padded shoulders shorten the neck so the head looks smaller. Similarly, non-padded, narrow shoulders make the head look larger. The ideal look for most men is for the shoulders to be natural and supported even as they incline upwards. Additional padding can be added judiciously to produce a more confident, commanding appearance.

Suit Jacket Lapels

Suit lapels are attached to the jacket shoulders and stretch downwards to where the buttons begin. Moderate width lapels are a timeless style and always in fashion:

  • Notched: There is a wide, V-shaped opening where the lapel and collar join. This is a classic look unlike the shawl style lapel.
  • Peaked: This lapel flares out in a sharp point, with a narrow, deep V at the joining. These are typically seen on double-breasted jackets.
  • Shawl: The lapel and the collar are indistinguishable and curve around the neck and down to where the lapels end. These are usually found on formal wear.

waist Buttons

The waist buttons start where the lapels end. Depending on whether the jacket is single or double-breasted, it will feature one or two rows of buttons respectively. A single-breasted jacket will have approximately one to four buttons while a tuxedo will usually have one button.

Traditionally, you would button the middle or second button of a three-button jacket; if the occasion is formal, then the top two buttons can be fastened as well.

Two-button suits show more of the shirt and the tie and consequently, create a slimming effect. Except for one button jackets, only the top button of a two-button suit is fastened.

Four-button jackets are an elegant choice for tall men; the jacket's four buttons emulate the three-buttoned version on shorter men. Unlike the two or three-button jacket styles where the bottom button is left undone, all the buttons of a four-button jacket must be fastened.

Double-breasted jackets usually have four to six buttons on each side. If it has six buttons, only the lower four are buttoned; although given the suit's design, only two will be buttoned at any given time. There is also an extra hidden button on the reverse of the outside flap of a double-breasted suit, onto which the inside flap attaches. A double-breasted jacket should never be left unbuttoned.

Jacket Length

A jacket that is too short draws attention to the undesirable portions of the wearer's body while one that is too long gives the wearer a dwarfed appearance. Since modern fashion trends have led to men wearing their pants at the hips rather than at the waist, most men opt for longer jackets.

Suit Jacket Fit

The waist button of a properly fitted jacket will be just below the wearer's actual waist. It will also have sleeves that leave room for 1/2 - 1” of the wearer's shirt cuff to be visible.

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A simple way to figure out if the jacket is long enough is to curl your fingers at the second knuckle around the bottom of the jacket. If the jacket's hem reaches where the fingers join the hand, it is a proper fit; if the hem touches the curled fingers or bunches up, the jacket is too long.

Another technique involves measuring the jacket from the top of the spine to the floor and dividing in half. However, these methods do not take into account any specific variations.

A jacket's sleeves should be fitted to the specific dimensions of the wearer's arm and should taper as necessary to avoid the appearance of flaring out towards the hand. Wide cuffs allow for free movement, though they should not be so wide as to hang loosely when the arms are raised. Equally, they should not be so narrow as to resemble the elasticised cuffs on rain jackets.

As you can see, there's more to creating the perfect suit jacket than meets the eye. However, perfect fit is the key to looking good in your clothes, and while it is time and labour intensive to produce a perfect suit jacket, we feel it is well worth the effort.

You can explore suit jacket styles and options by visiting our onlinemen's business suits style gallery or by popping into our Sydney showroom. We are eager to suit you up in sartorial style!

Image Credit © Igor Strajin | Dreamstime.com© Vonora | Dreamstime.com © Fashionstock .com | Dreamstime.com

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Steve Fambo

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The suit and shirts I received were terrific and much better quality than ones I've found in stores off the rack. I would absolutely recommend them... more »

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