Even in today’s more casual work place most men need to wear a suit. Here are some things to think about when choosing a good suit
- style (eg single or double breasted, height of front fastening and number of buttons)
- cut, ie the American (or Sack suit), Italian (or European) & British (or Savile Row).
Most suits for work are grey or blue – and within this there are lighter and darker tones, brighter and more muted colours, and there are some warmer versions. I have covered colour extensively already.
Texture and pattern
Very slim men can ramp up the texture and pattern.
If you are heavier, lighter weight fabrics, smoother cloth and plain or very subtle patterning are better.
A single breasted suit with a curve at the front hemline will give an impression of length and stature, so this is the best look for a smaller man. A double breasted jacket with a squared off hemline has the opposite effect and will make a man look bigger. A very tall or large man will generally look much better in a double breasted jacket. However there is a DB fad going on at the moment and most men look silly in them. Only one of these three looks agreeable in the DB (the other two should burn them)
The smaller man who insists on wearing a DB jacket should consider two rather than three buttons, as worn by the Duke of Windsor and members of the Japanese royal family.
In terms of button placement think about the space created between your shirt collar and the first button. A lower front will make you look taller, whereas a jacket that fastens high will make you look shorter. Here an American politician shows how nice a deep V can look.
Now let’t turn to cut. There are three types of suit cut, and this affects the whole fit and look of the suit as well as the details. The thing is, each style suits one of the three different body shapes.
The Continental (Italian, or European) cut
This suit suits men who have an angular body shape. An angular body has
- a difference of 7 inches or more between chest and waist measurement
- shoulders obviously wider than hips
- weight gain not obvious
The modern Italian style suit has become fashionable, and many of its features have been appropriated by other styles. But its architype would be the classic Brioni & Cardin suits of the 1950s. The shoulders are fully padded, with no back vents, flapless pockets and a definate tapering towards the waist for a pronounced V silhouette. Usually made from lighter fabrics to reflect the warmer climates on the continent.
Classic English – the Savile Row cut
This suit suits men with a straight body shape.
- less than 6 inches between waist and chest measurements
- visually straight body (irrespective of weight)
- weight gain usually results in a tummy
The suit typically has two buttons, two vents, a tapered waist and neat slim shoulder pads. The armholes are significantly higher than the American style; the fastened button is to the waist, making the jacket appear longer. The shoulders have less shape than the Continental style, but more shape than the American sack style. Most modern business suits conform to this shape. Traditionally heavier fabrics are used than in the Italian suit, due to our wonderful climate.
The American sack suit – less fitted cut
The sack suit has a more generous cut and suits men with a contoured body.
- overall appears somewhat soft
- when you put on weight you appear round and bulky
- a thicker neck can give a stocky appearance
The Ivy League men of the 1920s made the sack suit popular. The American cut suit typically has more natural shoulders without shoulder pads, one vent in the back, straight hanging lines and flap pockets. Traditionally there are three buttons, but only the middle one is ever used. The top button is often concealed as part of the lapel. The proportions are more generous with a looser fit and wider armholes which give the sack suit its boxy appearance.