Suit Vocabulary: Part 1

Alright, time to hit the ground running.  I’m going to assume you know what a “shirt” is, so I’ll skip that part.

Below is a picture of a jacket.  You’ll notice I’ve labeled a bunch of things.  These items and areas are some of the most important parts of the suit jacket.

Lapels: The lapels are triangular pieces of fabric that extends out across the chest of the jacket.  The type of lapel helps determine the formality of the jacket.  Larger and smaller lapels will also help determine the age of a jacket.  We will discuss more about lapels in tomorrow’s lecture, as they are one of the most important parts of the suit jacket.

Shoulders: The Shoulder refers to the area of the jacket where the sleeve attaches to the body of the jacket.   They seems self explanatory, but they really aren’t.  The shoulder of the suit is one of, if not the, most complex areas of the suit.  Its construction varies between styles and cultures, a topic we will explore later.  Terms like “Pagoda”,  “Spalla Camicia”, and “Con Rollino” are all words that are used to describe shoulders.  Sometimes I will refer to the shoulder as the Sleeve Head.  For the sake of this class, the two mean the same thing.

Arm Scye: The Arm Scye refers to the hole the arm goes through in the jacket.  Some tailors will refer to them as Arm Holes.  The dimensions of the arm scye determine a great deal about the comfort of the jacket as well as just how much mobility the jacket allows for.  As the arm scye is one of the most crucial parts to consider in picking a suit, we will spend a pretty good amount of time discussing them at a later date.

Breast Pocket: A place for pocket squares, pens, glasses and whatever else you would consider carrying around.

Buttoning Point:  The point where the jacket is buttoned.  derp.

Gorge: Gorge refers to the distance from  the neck of the shirt down to the buttoning point of the jacket.  Like everything else, the gorge varies from jacket to jacket depending on maker, age, style, and size of wearer.

Button Stance: Button Stance refers to the distance between the buttoning point and the natural waist of the wearer.  I kinda guesstimated a little on the diagram.  Button stance is intimately tied to gorge.  The words “High” and “Low” will be used to refer to both button stance and gorge.  A high Button Stance will make for a high gorge, a low button stance will make for a low gorge.

Quarters:  Quarters are the very bottom of the jacket, below the waist.  When a jacket is worn, the quarters will either spread apart in a sort of upside down V or they will lie flat and there will be no space between them.  These styles are known as “Open Quarters” and “Closed Quarters” respectively.

Thats all for today’s lesson.  If you have any questions, post them in r/uormenswear and I will answer them.  The homework for today is listed below.  Post it in r/uormenswear as an imgur link in the “8/14 hw” thread if you choose to do it.


Choose either Jacket Gorge height or Jacket Lapel width and make a graph of it over time.  Simply googling  “1860s Suit” should bring up more than enough pictures to work with. For the X-Axis, go by decades starting with the 1860s and ending with today.  For the Y-Axis, use relative answers like “Very High”, “Very Low”, “Medium” or “Wide”, “Very Wide”, and “Skinny”.  Use popular figures like singers and movie stars, they typically are the most up to date with suit jacket trends.  When in doubt, compare things to the 80s or 90s.


One Response to “Suit Vocabulary: Part 1”

  1. uormenswear Says:

    As kind of an addendum I should note that I encountered some friction on my definition of gorge from some people. They define gorge as the distance down the lapel of the notch or peak. I have seen that definition before as well as one or two others. I like mine, but I respect that the others could be valid too.

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