How to Buy a Suit

BREAK IT DOWN: THE SUIT
SILHOUETTE
Natural suit silhouette illustration.

NATURAL SILHOUETTE (OR SOFT SILHOUETTE)

Made with softer canvas (the stuff between your jacket's fabric and lining) and less padding. Considered the American style.

Structured suit silhouette illustration.
STRUCTURED SILHOUETTE
Made with stiffer canvas and usually has a padded shoulder. The British or European model.
SHOULDER
SOFT SHOULDER
SOFT SHOULDER
A low "knocked-down" shoulder; typically unpadded.
ROPE SHOULDER
ROPE SHOULDER
Prominent ridge at the shoulder seam.
NATURAL SHOULDER
NATURAL SHOULDER
A very slight ridge, but basically appears flat.
LAPEL
NOTCH LAPEL
NOTCH LAPEL
Has a triangular notch cut into it.
PEAK LAPEL
PEAK LAPEL
The most formal lapel option; the lower blade extends above the upper blade.
SHAWL LAPEL
SHAWL LAPEL
The lapel has a smooth line with no cut; typically seen on formalwear.
AVOID A COLLAR GAP
AVOID A COLLAR GAP
Your jacket's lapels should hug your shirt collar, particularly in back. You want about a half inch of shirt collar showing at the back of your neck.
BUTTON CLOSURE.
SINGLE BREASTED.
SINGLE BREASTED
A single button or single row of buttons. (Never button the bottom one.)
DOUBLE BREASTED.
DOUBLE BREASTED
One side of the jacket overlaps the other and is secured by a double row of buttons.
BACK VENTS.
SIDE VENTS.
SIDE VENTS
Two vents (slits) placed on either side of the back of the jacket. (Yes, the string on them should be cut.)
CENTER VENT.
CENTER VENT
One vent cut up the middle of the jacket. Again, cut that string.
CLOSED.
CLOSED
A jacket that has no vents. Not a common option, but they're out there.
JACKET CUFFS.
THE RIGHT SLEEVE LENGTH.
THE RIGHT SLEEVE LENGTH
About a half inch of your shirt cuff should show below your jacket sleeve. This needs to be tailored to fit you perfectly.
TROUSER PLEATS.
FLAT FRONT.
FLAT FRONT
Trousers that don't have any pleats under the waistband.
DOUBLE PLEAT.
DOUBLE PLEAT
Two pleats on either pant leg. (This helps with fabric drape and provides a bit more room.)
SINGLE PLEAT.
SINGLE PLEAT
One pleat on either pant leg. (This helps some fabrics drape better.)
TROUSER CUFFS.
PLAIN HEMS.
PLAIN HEMS
The uncuffed hem. Provides an overall cleaner look.
CUFFED HEMS.
CUFFED
Hemmed with a fixed cuff. Good for pleated trousers or heavier-weight wools (with the exception of tuxedos, which should never be cuffed). 
TROUSER BREAKS.
FULL BREAK.
FULL BREAK
The "break" is the crease formed when your trousers are hemmed. With a full break, your trouser hem reaches the top of your shoe heel in back.
NO BREAK.
NO BREAK
No crease at all—your trouser hem skims the front of your shoe. Typically reserved for slim-leg trousers.
HALF BREAK.
HALF OR SLIGHT BREAK
The safe bet for most trousers. There's still a crease in the trouser leg but a considerably smaller one than with a full break.
COMMON SUIT PATTERNS.
WINDOWPANE PLAID 
A wide, open grid design formed by thin lines.
 
HOUNDSTOOTH 
A two-tone pattern made up of broken checks.
 
HERRINGBONE 
A distinctive V-shaped design composed of two colors.
 
PINSTRIPES 
Very thin vertical stripes that, upon close inspection, actually look like a series of pin dots.
 
SHADOW STRIPES 
Vertical stripes that are in the same color family as the suit background—hence, they look like shadows.
CHALK STRIPES 
White vertical stripes that are wider than pinstripes—the idea is that they look like they're drawn with tailor's chalk.
 
GLEN PLAID 
A distinct plaid design made up of overlapping patterns of large and small checks. Sometimes called the Prince of Wales check.
 
TWEED 
Technically a fabric, not a pattern, tweed has a rough, unfinished texture and is woven with multicolored yarns for a flecked appearance.
COMMON SUIT FABRICS.
COTTON 
Ideal for warm weather; typically unstructured, with a crisp look.
 
LINEN
The perfect fabric for hot weather; extremely breathable with a cool, intentionally rumpled look. 
 
WOOL 
The most common—with many variations. Worsted wool is made from tightly twisted yarn that produces a smoother finish. Super 100s and 120s wool refers to the fineness of the yarn, which results in a softer, silkier product. Tropical-weight wool is lightweight and—you guessed it—ideal for warmer weather.
Men's Style Video: How to Modernize Your Suit
Men's Style Video: How to Modernize Your Suit
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