How to Buy a Suit
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.
Made with stiffer canvas and usually has a padded shoulder. The British or European model.
A low "knocked-down" shoulder; typically unpadded.
Prominent ridge at the shoulder seam.
A very slight ridge, but basically appears flat.
Has a triangular notch cut into it.
The lapel has a smooth line with no cut; typically seen on formalwear.
The most formal lapel option; the lower blade extends above the upper blade.
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.
A single button or single row of buttons. (Never button the bottom one.)
One side of the jacket overlaps the other and is secured by a double row of buttons.
Two vents (slits) placed on either side of the back of the jacket. (Yes, the string on them should be cut.)
One vent cut up the middle of the jacket. Again, cut that string.
A jacket that has no vents. Not a common option, but they're out there.
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.
Trousers that don't have any pleats under the waistband.
Two pleats on either pant leg. (This helps with fabric drape and provides a bit more room.)
One pleat on either pant leg. (This helps some fabrics drape better.)
The uncuffed hem. Provides an overall cleaner look.
Hemmed with a fixed cuff. Good for pleated trousers or heavier-weight wools (with the exception of tuxedos, which should never be cuffed).
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 crease at all—your trouser hem skims the front of your shoe. Typically reserved for slim-leg trousers.
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.
A wide, open grid design formed by thin lines.
A two-tone pattern made up of broken checks.
A distinctive V-shaped design composed of two colors.
Very thin vertical stripes that, upon close inspection, actually look like a series of pin dots.
Vertical stripes that are in the same color family as the suit background—hence, they look like shadows.
White vertical stripes that are wider than pinstripes—the idea is that they look like they're drawn with tailor's chalk.
A distinct plaid design made up of overlapping patterns of large and small checks. Sometimes called the Prince of Wales check.
Technically a fabric, not a pattern, tweed has a rough, unfinished texture and is woven with multicolored yarns for a flecked appearance.
Ideal for warm weather; typically unstructured, with a crisp look.
The perfect fabric for hot weather; extremely breathable with a cool, intentionally rumpled look.
The most common—with many variations. Worsted wool is made from tightly twisted yarn that produces a smoother finish. Super 100s and 120s wool refer 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.