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Anatomy of a suit

A suit, the two-piece ensemble that you either wear in your day-to-day work, or only on special occasions like weddings and interviews, is much more than regular clothing. The anatomy of a suit is a piece of engineering that, if constructed well, has the ability to transform the body.

  • The suit is meant to look slim, but not feel in the least tight
  • To move with the body but not lose shape
  • It needs to feel like a second skin even after wearing it for 12 hours straight.

The secrets to making all this happen are hidden on the inside.

When you buy a suit, you may be aware of a couple of the construction pieces: the lapel, the waistline, the pockets. We’re going to give you a closer glimpse into its mastery, so you can appreciate it as you’re wearing your suits, and approach your next buy with more confidence and curiosity.

Let’s dissect it…

The suit jacket

The shoulder

The shoulder of the jacket straightens and broadens the natural shape of the wearer. Not just that, but it also creates a shell in which the shoulder and the top of the arm are allowed to move freely without distorting the jacket. The shoulder pad is made of cotton, wool and horse hair layers.

The floating chest piece

The canvas chest piece is a key piece of the jacket, and where a lot of the craftmanship and handsewing goes into. This piece is meant to give the jacket structure and shape, while still move with the body and maintain both comfort and shape. A good suit should only mould to your shape and posture in time.

The collar and lapels

The collar and lapel are handsewn in bespoke suits

The collar and lapels frame the tie, the neck and the face. In high quality bespoke suits, handsewn diagonal stitches keep the line of collar crisp throughout the life of a suit.

The lapel also features a buttonhole, with an interesting origin story: in winter men wore dress hats they strapped to the buttonhole with an elastic band. This way a gust of wind couldn’t blow their hat away. Another story says that the buttonhole had a matching button on the underside of the other lapel, to button the top of the jacket up in cold weather. Nowadays you will mostly use your lapel for flowers and lapel pins.

Outer breast pocket

The breast pocket started as a handkerchief pocket. Now it’s ornamental and is used to display a well-coordinated, outfit enhancing pocket square.

Buttons

Buttons are both a fashion vehicle, as well as an important part of the geometry of silhouette construction. A jacket can have one, two or three buttons (or one, two or three rows of buttons for double breasted jackets). When and where you should wear your jacket buttoned or unbottoned is a topic for another time, but if in doubt, take Tom Ford’s advice.

Always keep your jacket buttoned. If I had one rule for men, it’s this. It instantly makes your silhouette.

Tom Ford

Sleeve vent and buttons

The cuff of a jacket usually has a sleeve vent. This portion will either be an actual vent where the buttons can be unfastened, or sewn together to maintain a more buttoned-up appearance. Top quality suits have true sleeve vent.

The sleeve vent with the top button unfastened

Back vents

The back vents’ origins are said to go back to equestrian fashion, where their role was to allow the jacket to maintain structure. They can be double, which is considered traditionally British, single or American style, and even no back vent, which had its prime time during Hollywood’s golden era. These days we give the back vents their due credit for helping shape your silhouette.

The suit trousers

Waistband

The waistband should sit between the hips and belly button

The waistband’s role is to create a flattering appearance, with no compromise to comfort. To get that effect, the waistband should sit between the hips and belly button. There are certain tricks to enhance your proportions: for example, a higher waistline gives the illusion of a longer leg, but this should be handled carefully by an experienced tailor.


Belt loops

The belt loops’ role is to keep your trousers sitting at the perfect height. To be clear, belts are not a necessity, but an alternative to braces. They can be a convenient option to have.


Trouser seat and rise

No two body shapes are identical. A well tailored seat and rise in your trousers will ensure a better, more comfortable fit, and n this way, a longer life for your trousers. Anatomically, the rise is essentially the length from the crotch to the waistband, and the sit is the width.


Trouser crease

The trouser adds a crisp look to your ensemble, and is a prerequisite for a formal look. It should be down the front of the leg, not on the side.


Trouser hem

The trouser hem is a part of the suit where we can express style preference. Traditional hems for trousers are cuffed, but modern style favours uncuffed hems for more of a cleaner look.

Having a better knowledge of what the anatomy of a suit and of what role each part plays, puts you in a better position to choose a suit that suits you, and looking and feeling best in it. Are you ready for the truly bespoke experience a suit offers? Make a booking now.


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