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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.


Suit Vocabulary: Part 1

August 15, 2011

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.

Hi gang!

August 14, 2011

Hey everyone!

Welcome to menswear 101!

To start off, I’d like to familiarize everyone with the class format. This wordpress blog (uormenswear.wordpress) will host all of the lessons. I will try to do two lessons per week, though that may slow down or speed up, depending on how much other work I have. Any assignments I post should be submitted to their thread in r/uormenswear. Assignments are optional, though they should be interesting so at least give them a look.

Here is the tentative lesson plan. Each topic is one lesson.


Menswear vocabulary part 1

Menswear vocabulary part 2

Matching: colors, patterns, and textures

Getting the right fit

Alterations and tailoring etiquette

Bonus: DIY Time!


British menswear

American menswear

Italian menswear

Menswear around the world

Influential figures in menswear history

Bonus: Menswear Success Stories


Menswear on the runway

Rise of the iGent


Modern movers and shakers

The future of menswear

Bonus: E-Commerce FTW!

That should about cover it. It sounds like a lot, I know, but I’ll try to keep it fun and informative. All in all, this class should last about as long as a usual school semester.

Good luck!