60 percent of the time, jeans and a blazer work, every time. But certain situations downright demand the suit's singular sophistication, so we've cleared your path to finding one that fits great with this primer of standard suiting terms you should know before you go shopping.
Know The Method
It all starts with how it's made.
Bespoke: Personally tailored into existence from the buyer’s measurements. Each piece is "bespoken for" by a client — as in, fully custom.
Made-to-measure: Basically, "semi-custom." Pre-made measurements are modified extensively to delivery a high-quality fit.
Ready-to-wear: Also known as "off-the-rack" or "OTR", It's the least expensive option — but you'll almost always need alterations to make it fit well.
Suit separates: Jacket, vests, and pants sold a la carte. Perfect for dudes with disproportionate bodies, 'cause it cuts down on the required tailoring.
It Cuts Both Ways
There're two main cuts. Slice your look accordingly.
Single-breasted: The most common & casual cut, the sides overlap just enough to accommodate one button column.
Double-breasted: Two parallel button columns overlap this jacket's outside panel with its inside for a bold lapel presentation Make sure it’s a slim cut, and remember — it’s a lot harder to dress down than a single-breasted cut. Too much boldness and you'll look like a '20s gangster.
First, say it with us: "luh-PEL". Now, get to know the three main types...
Notched: The standard for single-breasted suit jackets, it’s sewn to the collar at an angle.
Peaked: The most formal of the bunch, you’ll see it on double-breasted jackets & tuxedos. If you’re going to a fancy event feel free to wear a boutonnière (flowers) in the buttonhole on the left-hand side.
Shawl: A continuous collar that curves around the neck and over the shoulders. It’s most common on a tuxedo.
The Matter Of Materials
And the materials matter...
Cotton & wool: The dual standards of suiting, your first suit should always be made of one of these.
Flannel: Often mistaken as anything with a plaid pattern, it’s actually a kind of fabric that’s made out of wool or cotton, brushed for extra softness.
Seersucker: An excellent spring/summer fabric made of thin, puckered cotton. It often comes in pastel stripes and has a definite preppy vibe.
Corduroy: A thick, winter fabric that has a distinctive ridged texture. Its name is French for "cloth of the king"!
Tweed: Durable, rough-finished woolen cloth. Originally from Scotland, its pastoral-bramble colors are derived from variations in the twisted fibers from which it's woven.
Start From The Bottom
No pants are "just" pants. Yours may have...
Taper: How a pair of pants gets skinnier at the ankle. A good look if you want to show off your shoes. Flat front: The material lies flat.
Pleated front: A front with material that has been folded and sewed before it is attached to the waistband. Proceed with caution unless you know what you're doing.
Break: In layman's terms, it’s where your pants fall over your shoes.
Cuffs: Where the hem is turned up & sewn. A nice look if you want to give the pants some weight so they fall over your shoes nicely.
Top It All Off
The jacket is the star of your suit, and there're plenty of options to help you shine.
Single-button: A sleek, unusual option, it was out of style for a while. Comeback season!
Two-button: The standard. It’s important to leave the bottom button unbuttoned.
Three-button: Wear with the top two buttons buttoned.
Four-button jacket: Are you an NBA player? No? Probably not tall enough to warrant this one then.
Vents: The openings on the back part of the jacket. There are three key variations: side vent, center vent, and no vent at all.
Gorge: It's the distance from the neck of the shirt to the button of the jacket.
Button stance: Distance between the buttoning point and the natural waist of the wearer. Referred to as “high” or “low”. A high button stance equals a high gorge, and vice versa.