Archive for September, 2011

Suit Vocabulary part 2

September 4, 2011

To further expand on your suit-cabulary, today’s lecture will delve even further into the various parts of the jacket.

First off we have what are generally called The Lapels.  The lapel consists of three parts: The Collar, The Gorge, and The Lapel.  I hope you’re nice and confused at this point.  I already used the word gorge in last lecture!  Oh no!  Well it turns out that a lot of this vocabulary is pretty subjective.  What they are defining remains the same, but the vocabulary switches up a bit.  This is to be expected really.  Menswear tailoring is something that spans continents and centuries.  There is gonna be some wiggle room.  Back to the lapel.


A typical notch lapel

As you can see, the Collar goes behinds the neck of the jacket all the way to the gorge.  The lapel extends down from the gorge to the buttoning point.

Lapels come in three varieties.

Notch Lapel

Peak Lapel

Shawl Lapel

Notch is the most casual, Peak is the most formal.  Shawl is typically reserved for lounge wear suits like velvet smoking jackets and tuxedos.  It makes its way onto suits from time to time.  In general, notch lapel is the best for business suits.  Peak lapel works best for suits with larger, wider lapels.  The general trend in menswear currently tends towards slimmer lapels, so the notch lapel makes more sense here.

Next, we are going to discuss breasts.  (hehehe)  Suits come in two varieties here.  Single Breasted and  Double Breasted.  Single breasted suits have a single line of buttons, Double breasted suits have two lines.

Single breast suits are by far the most popular.  Double breasted suits go in and out of style.  Currently they’re in, soon they may be out, who knows?  In general, Double breasted suits are a lot harder to dress down.  They have been a favorite of numerous dukes and royalty throughout history.  There is a school of thought that believes double breasted suits are better suited for guys with larger chests.  I’m not sure I buy into that at all.

You may have noticed by now that there can be anything from 1 to 4 rows of buttons on the breast.  Again, this is something that changes from suit to suit.

Single Button Suits are the sleekest.  They are somewhat rare though, and they go in and out of popularity.  The most famous maker of single button jackets is H Huntsman, a tailor who will be discussed in more detail later.

Two Button Suits are the standard.  They are incredibly common.  When buttoning a two button suit, it is important to leave the bottom button unbuttoned for reasons you will see in a moment.

Three Button Suits can be effectively divided into two categories: Three Roll Two and Three.  A three roll two jacket has three buttons but only the middle one is intended to be buttoned.  The lapel will roll the top button back.  This style is favored by more relaxed tailoring styles like American and Neapolitan.  A true three button jacket will be worn with the top two buttons fastened.  These jackets are normally considered the most modern and were a key element of the Mods of Mod and Rocker fame.  If you get a chance, rent Quadrophenia.  It’s a great movie.  Moving on.

Four Button Suits NOT EVEN ONCE.  Avoid like the plague.  There is nothing flattering about a four button suit.

Now whats with the bottom button you ask?  Well that’s a funny story.  According to legend, King Edward VII was so fat he couldn’t button the bottom button of his jacket.  His court, not wanting to draw attention to Edward’s girth, all started wearing their jackets with the bottom button unbuttoned.  Ever since then, no one buttons that button ever.  There are exceptions and if I have time, I’ll cover them, but for the sake of today’s lesson that button is never buttoned.

The final part of the jacket of note are the vents.  The vents are the openings on the back of the jacket on the bottom.  They too come in three variations: Single, Double, and None.  Single vent is typically found in more relaxed tailoring styles.  American jackets are almost always single vented.  Double vented jackets give the jacket a much sleeker look and are typically found in slimmer, more tailored jackets.  Proponents argue that they handle motion a lot better than a single vent as well.  Double vents are more or less the standard for jackets today. Jackets without vents should be avoided, with one exception: Tuxedo jackets.

That’s all for right now guys, sorry I took so long to update.  Next lesson will be much sooner.

No homework this week.