From the number of buttonholes and the cut of the fabric to the positioning of the lapels, a suit's overall style is heavily influenced by its component parts.
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What we’ll cover
If you are new to the world of suits, you may be surprised to know that there’s way more to them than merely a pair of pants and a jacket. There are heaps of different suit styles and before you walk into a store or buy online, you should probably know what you’re looking at.
From the number of buttonholes and the cut of the fabric to the positioning of the lapels, these all heavily influence a suit’s look, as well as how it feels on the body.
We’ll go through the most popular kinds of men’s suit styles, tell you how they should fit and what to look for when you’re thinking about buying.
If you like to keep it traditional, you can’t do better than a classic suit. This suit is perfect for those who want a versatile suit for work and play.
Wear it to the office during the week, and know you’ll look just as sharp when you’re at the bar for a quick catch-up with friends. It’s perfect for both smart-casual and more laid-back affairs.
When it comes to aesthetics, a classic suit will usually have notched lapels and single-breasted styles. The sleeve cuffs are uncomplicated and minimal, while flap pockets finish off the look.
It’s a no-frills option that makes you look well turned out while not having to put too much thought into it. And even better, this type of suit will never go out of style. So, if you invest in a good-quality classic fit, you can wear it for years.
Slim fit suits look crisp and clean and are right on the money for modern men’s fashion. The profile is more form-fitting than classic suits. They cut slightly into the chest and waist, and may feel more snug than other styles, but the payoff is really about the style.
This suit style is much more form-fitting than other cuts and can be a great way to enhance your figure. It’s tight to the body, and for that reason, may require a good amount of tailoring to get it absolutely right. You often see made-to-measure suit brands like Indochino or The Black Lapel specialize in slimmer profiles.
However, a slim-fit suit is not for everyone. One, because of the cut, and two, because some men prefer the traditional suit and shy away because of the snugness.
Slim fit suits can look good on all different body types, but are typically best suited for men with more athletic builds. They’re especially popular for younger men who are looking for that streamlined silhouette that is cut with the contours of their bodies. If slim-fit suits are a step too far for you, remember that pants can be swapped and that slim-fit jackets look great over jeans for a more casual look. Because the fit is so close, you should also look to get undershirts and boxer briefs that move with the contours of your body to avoid a messy baggy look underneath.
A modern fit suit is a perfect compromise between classic fit and slim fit suit jackets. With the contemporary fit, you can still get the look of the slim suit while still having the freedom to move more comfortably. For that reason, many men see it as the best suit fit for them.
It fits fairly close to the body, but with more room specifically around the torso than its slim counterpart. The jacket should be fitted at the chest and shoulders, and the pants should similarly be tapered around the thighs with a wider break at the ankle.
As the look is subtle and smart yet low-key, you don’t always have to match it with pleated or flat pants. Sometimes, chinos can perfectly complete the look for more informal settings.
These suits work brilliantly in any setting. Coupled with the right accessories such as a watch and cufflinks, they can make stand-out pieces for more formal occasions while still looking subtle and sophisticated at a business meeting.
You know that lapels are the folded pieces of cloth on the front of a suit jacket, blazer or sport coat. Unless you’re paying close attention to suit or tuxedo style, you might not have ever considered the different styles available: notch, peaked and shawl lapels.
A single-breasted jacket with a notch lapel is one of the most common types of suit jackets out there.
It really is simple: notch lapels have a “notch”, or an indent, on the outside of the lapel right where it means the collar.
The subtle design of a notched lapel gives a versatile finishing touch, making it the perfect look for a variety of occasions.
A peaked lapel has a unique sophistication and charm compared to the notch lapel – probably because you usually see them on more formal suit jackets, tuxedos and double-breasted suits.
The tips of these lapels point or “peak” upwards toward the wearer’s face. They tend to make the chest look wider and a bit more bold. It’s a little bit of a showy look, but it works in formal settings and looks excellent with a tuxedo.
Shawl lapels have a continuous rounded edge that has a seam at the back of the neck. The shape tapers off as it reaches the button on your coat.
If you are looking for a suit for a black tie occasion, then a shawl lapel suit is the pick for you. This cut is most routinely worn to formal occasions as a tuxedo or dinner suit.
A shawl lapel has an uninterrupted, subtle, and modern line. It shouldn’t be worn as a regular suit jacket as it will look out of place, but it can complement your style beautifully in the right setting.
For a good reason, a single-breasted suit is a standard design classic among men. Most men wear this in their day-to-day work thanks to the timelessly elegant style of a single-row series of buttons along the seam.
A single-breasted suit has a jacket consisting of a column of buttons that run alongside a narrow overlapping fabric, giving a simple, elegant look.
There is an etiquette involved in buttoning these suits, which every man in a suit should know:
Particularly popular in Europe, the double-breasted suit has buttons on either side of the jacket. It also gives the illusion of a larger frame, so taller and broader men may choose to stay away from these suits and adopt a single-breasted style instead.
These are a great showstopper of a suit and are ideal for jazzing up a look. You don’t always have to be confined to a black jacket either; there are plenty of different colors available, but the design and button placement usually stays the same.
Today’s versions of the double-breasted jacket are slimmer and less boxy than the ones so often worn in the past. This has the added advantage of making the wearer look like they’ve lost a few pounds. The lapels will also open up the chest area, making it appear larger and creating a beautiful line along the torso.
Regarding buttons, it isn’t as strict as with a single-breasted blazer – the top button should generally be unbuttoned while the remaining buttons are best left fastened, regardless of whether you are sitting or standing.
With an unstructured blazer, you aren’t restricted by interior padding, so the look is often less rigid and softer than a traditional suit. It’s certainly a modern look, and it’s not for everyone, but it most definitely does have its place in menswear, usually at more informal events.
It creates a softer look and is usually more breathable than regular suit jackets, so it’s perfect for the summer. They have a unique stylistic appeal and can work more formally as part of a casual suit or when paired with a collared shirt.
They work well as part of wedding suits when the dress code is more casual, particularly at beach and afternoon weddings. They make a welcome change from formalwear, and can be ideal for smart-casual occasions when you want to look the part without compromising on comfort.
The sport coat is a less formal version of the suit jacket or blazer. They were traditionally worn for “sporting” activities like hunting, but have evolved over the years to be a more relaxed option for semi-formal events – or even a dinner jacket.
They are typically patterned and styled with more unique designs. They can come in classic, modern or slim fit, but usually fall into either classic or modern.
You can pair one with chinos or dress pants and manage to pull off a formal look that speaks to your individual style a little more boldly.
You have probably noticed vents when shopping for suits. They are the vertical slits on the bottom of suit jackets on the back side. The goal is to add some “movement” to the suit and make it more comfortable to wear.
Usually you’ll see single- and double-vent suits.
Single vent suits have one vertical slit cut up the middle of the suit. This is known as the center vent and allows the jacket to part when you move your arms forward.
Double vent suits have two vertical slits on both sides of the jacket. They serve the same purpose: to allow more freedom of movement. This style gives the wearer a slimmer silhouette and has become more popular over the years.
There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying a suit, and you should think about each component carefully when choosing your ideal match. You know the different types of suits, you know which are more casual styles and which come with more formality.
One thing you should never forget when shopping for a suit, though, is what you’re wearing underneath. Baggy undershirts and underwear can add unwanted bunchiness to your suit. For a streamlined undershirt that fits close to contours of your body and protects your dress shirt from sweat stains and odor, check out UnderFit undershirts. Join over 20,000 men who know what you wear underneath sometimes matters just as much.
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