Suits: Defined

Fundamentals Of Modern Men's Suits

A men’s suit is defined generally by a set of clothes comprising of suit jacket and trousers. There can be many variations of this general term, for example a 3-piece suit is define as the addition of a waistcoat or vest to the suit. The articles below will touch on a few key determinators of a suit, namely:

THE UMBRELLA DEFINITION
SUIT
SUIT FABRIC
SUIT CUT

The Umbrella Definition

There are 3 umbrella terms for which all suits generally will fall into. Below are Black Jacket Suiting’s detailed definitions of each type of suit you will come across from least formal to most.

The Lounge Suit

The origins of the lounge suit trace back to 19th century Britain and was coined as a more casual attire for the gentleman of that time and to be worn when tuxedo’s or tails were over the top. 

Most suits you will find in the modern day market place will be lounge suits and garment which comprise of all fabric material with no contrasting satin/silk as well as a shorten jacket back length that finishes around a man’s bottom. 

These suits can be used for an extremely wide variety of events, from business to weddings, funerals to social occasions and everything in between. You will also find them in an array of fabric colours, designs and compositions to add unique style to your wardrobe

Tuxedo

These days many people do not understand the difference between a suit and a tuxedo. This has been partly due to the styles and variations of tuxedos changing, making them harder to distinguish from lounge suits. 

The simplest of distinguishing factor between the tuxedo vs the lounge suit is the presence of satin/silk detailing on a tuxedo. This detail can be found on the jacket lapel, buttons, pockets and/or the side seam of the trouser. Thus, creating a contrast from the base fabric of the suit and a defining factor of the tuxedo.

 Finally, tuxedos will usually be paired with a combination of the following: bow tie, dinner shirt, cummerbund, suspenders or patent leather shoes.

MORNING Suit

Of the three suits the morning suit or tailcoat is the most easily distinguished and typically reserved for ‘White Tie’ formal affairs from royal and state dinners and extremely formal balls of societies elite (e.g. the royal wedding). Accordingly, this dress code leaves little room for a creative or fashion forward approach. 

The tailcoat is distinguished by its knee-length rear (tail) while mirroring a standard jacket through the shoulders and sleeves. Occasionally this attire can have military styling but usually is waist length at the front and sides and holds an elongated lapel that will extend almost to the bottom of the front of the jacket. 

The tailcoat itself is usually worn unbuttoned and paired with a formal waistcoat, white marcella shirt, gloves and a top hat. Finally, you can find tuxedo satin/silk detailing on particular tailcoats but the presence of the knee-length tail still defines it under this term.

Composition

Suit composition is really the foundation of the garment; just like making a car with a poor quality engine no matter how slick it looks when it comes down to it the business cracks will appear. 

Modern day suits come in a wide variety of fabrics from polyester to wool, cotton to linen, rayon to silk as well as combinations of these variants in different proportions. Additionally, materials like elastane, serona and nano-fiber technologies have also been incorporated in small proportions into suits in order to provide added flexibility or stain resistant characteristics. 

Additionally, the components that make up a suit are equally as important. The canvas which provides the jacket structure, the lining which allows for comfort and feel, the shoulder padding that shapes to the wearer, the stitching that provides strength to the fabric and the waistband there to bear the strain of movement. All these parts make up the composition of the suit and need to work in unison. 

It is important to understand that there will be trade-offs when it comes to budget and quality but investing in a high-grade fabric will reap rewards when it comes to longevity of your suit.

Fabric

For the purposes of this part of the guide we will focus on the most common of fabric in a quality suit, most notably; wool. Wool suits come in many different yarns, weights, feels, weaves, textures and finishes which allow for different effects to be provided by the finished product.

The two main wool yarns in the market are woollens, where fibers are not combed before spinning and leave the wool more natural looking with a fluffy texture; and worsteds where the fibers are combed before spinning and result in a smooth and hard-wearing finish. Typically, the former will be more for winter suit products (added warmth) and the latter for summer suit products (added breathability). Fabrics have all different weights and feels and a common shorthand for this is the denotation of ‘S’ or ‘Super’ before a number usually between 100-200 (e.g. Super 140’s) with the higher the number usually meaning the finer the fabric.

THE 'SUPER' TEAM

The ‘S’ or ‘Super’number you may see in front of some materials usually refers to the thickness of the fabric.

The short hand originated in England and arose from the yarn count system; essentially this referred to the number of 560-yard lengths (hanks) of yarn that 1 pound of wool yields. Therefore, the more hanks the higher the number and the finer the wool.

In modern times this method still holds some merit as a rule of thumb, however it has been replaced with the more accurate metric yarn count. Accordingly, it is more important to look to the weight of the fabric in conjunction with the diameter in micrometers as a determination of refinedness and quality.

It should be noted that the finer the fabric the more delicate it becomes and as such less likely to be long-wearing. This is an important consideration when weighing up durability and longevity with feel and breathability. As mentioned above suits can come in a wide variety of different fabric compositions. For the best suit for your usage or occasion you should always consult a qualified, genuine and experienced tailor/suit shop.

Want bespoke advice made for you? Book an Appointment with one of our highly trained and extremely knowledgeable staff who will guide you through your next amazing suit

The Cut

The cut of a suit determines its final shape and for the body shapes it will work best with. This cut comes from the silhouette (aka the pattern) of a suit which is created from a canvas fitting and acts as the foundation of the suit. Accordingly, there are only three ways to make a suit.

The Three Ways To Make a Suit

Ready-Made

Which denotes a suit that is pre- made to certain sizing block specifications where with each increase in size the measurements increase a proportional amount. These are usually machine made in large factories in bulk and are sold at a lower price point.

Made-To-Measure

Describes a suit that may be partly handmade but mostly machine made however it is a suit that uses measurements not shaping to achieve custom styles lengths and horizontal measurements. Usually manufactures will make the garments individually but have a bank of patterns they work off to pair the closest pattern to the clients desired measurements with adjusted measurements.

Bespoke

The epitome of the suiting world; these suits are entirely hand made with many hours of labour going into creating a unique to the owner garment. The term was coined from the pattern being cut for the individual and as such that pattern is ‘bespoken’ for them as a one of a kind. The process usually takes multiple fittings and shaping’s by a highly skilled tailor where the suit is built up in layers and progresses after every fitting.

Just like building a house, if the foundations of a suit (the cut) are not right for your shape/build than it will be prone to failure. In that capacity it doesn’t matter how much you pay for the suit, if it doesn’t fit you correctly it will always look cheap

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