Let’s Play a Game of….Know Your Suits!

Good day dapperites,

Now when I say “Know your suits” I am not talking about what types of suits you should have and why, because if you’ve been following this blog you already know! When I talk about knowing your suits, I mean, do you really know them? Do you know what constitutes quality and why? How are they made? What are the components? So do you know your suits now? Didn’t think so! So pull up a chair, get your cigar, pour a drink and settle in:

I will work from the inside out here. So the inner construction of your suit, what are the differences?

CANVASSED VS. HALF CANVASSED VS. FUSED

CANVAS – a blend of cotton or wool with an animal hair, usually horse or camel. This material molds over time through pressure humidity and heat and retain their shape.

FULL CANVAS CONSTRUCTION – The canvas runs from the top of shoulder (including the lapel) to the hem and floats between the layers of cloth. This allows the jacket to shape to the body over time. In the lapel of the jacket the canvas is adhered to the fabric using a blind stitching process known as pad stitching which gives the lapel a natural roll. This is the gold standard in suit construction and also the most expensive and time consuming process.

HALF CANVAS CONSTRUCTION – A construction approach that combines the improved structure,rolled lapel, and shape to the jacket where it is most needed (in the chest and shoulder) with the cost savings of a fused suit. The canvas layer generally runs from the shoulder down to the first button on the jacket, and the fusible layer runs throughout the entire body of the jacket as it is always necessary to have the fabric stabilized by something, whether it is canvas or fusible.

FUSED CONSTRUCTION – A type of garment construction that relies on the application of a thin layer of cloth that when heated in a special press, will bond to another fabric by melting the glue on its surface and fusing it to the other cloth. The result is that it gives the front of the jacket the structure that it needs without using the expensive,time consuming canvas interlining process.  The biggest drawbacks of this process are that it doesn’t provide the same support as a canvas layer, it doesn’t extend into the lapel leaving it looking flimsy and lifeless, and it is prone to an unattractive bubbling effect if too much heat is applied to it and the bond between the fusible and the cloth is lifted.

Now out of all these three your best value bet would be to go for the half-canvassed. This middle ground option still gets you solid quality without paying the premium for full canvas.

Next, what key components really make for a great suit?  Let’s start with the little things, because of course, the devil is in the details 😉

PAD STITCHED LAPEL – A canvas layer that extends into the lapel that is reinforced with a series of stitches that run parallel to the roll line of the lapel in order to give it more firmness and a natural curve to the lapel that will be durable over time.

NATURAL LAPEL ROLL – Our suits all feature a naturally rolled lapel that will hold its shape over time and add depth and elegance to your suit jacket. A hard pressed lapel is meant for a jacket that has no canvas and is of lower quality, so having a natural roll not only looks better but signifies quality.

FLOATING CHEST PIECE – A cotton felt chest piece floats in the midsection of the garment as well for additional structure and substance and a natural drape of the fabric from shoulder to hem.

LIGHTWEIGHT SHOULDER PADS – Shoulder pads that have a curved shape that looks and feels natural for increased comfort and flexibility, but a natural shoulder line.

NATURAL HORN BUTTONS ‐ Highest quality buttons available for suits.Plastic buttons often crack in bad weather and harsh climates or after several trips to the dry cleaners.

UNDER COLLAR – A felt lined collar not only helps the suit hold its shape around the neck, but also allows your jacket to mimic an outerwear coat on a cool evening.

REINFORCED BUTTON STITCHING – Reinforced double stitching around the buttons, to provide additional support and reduce the probability of the buttons falling off.

UNDERARM SWEAT GUARDS – Additional padding under arms to ensure that even on the most perspiring of gentlemen,the wetness won’t show through the fabric. This helps during those summer weddings in steaming hot churches with no A/C!

HAND STITCHED ARMHOLES – A hand stitched armhole in the inside of the jacket for maximum mobility and comfort.

LINED PANTS – Pants that are lined to the knee to protect the pant fabric from wearing through in the highest stress areas and also preventing the wearer from overheating. Another key feature for those hot summer weddings.

YKK ZIPPERS – Considered the standard in zippers for their quality and longevity.

SIDE GRIPPER – located around the waistband, side grippers are used to keep shirts tucked in. I know I appreciate this in a suit very much, helps avoid the billowing effect of a shirt half tucked at the back!

HEEL GUARDS – protects against abrasion to the fabric at the end of the heel, which is a major stress point of trousers. Who doesn’t want their pants to last longer??

Now let’s hit up some more common external features of a suit 

LAPEL – The folds of fabric that begin at the collar of the jacket and run down the front to the buttons

NOTCH LAPEL – an angled style of lapel common on men’s suits for generations. This is the standard lapel on most men’s suit jackets and blazers found today.

PEAKED LAPEL – A more formal lapel style characterized by a lapel that comes to a point at the line the collar begins and is commonly seen on double breasted suits and tuxedos.

SHAWL LAPEL – Originally used on smoking jackets, the shawl lapel appears as a continuous curve from collar to button. The shawl collar is now mostly used on tuxedos and other formalwear.

If you’re wondering which kind the Don himself favors, I’d have to say I have really been digging the Wide Peaked lapels lately, taking a page out of some powerful Italian fashion lookbooks. Really adds that confident flair. 

COLLAR – The part of the suit jacket that frames the neck, padded with felt for a thicker, rolled appearance that will help the lapel sit properly

BUTTON STANCE – Refers to the height that the first button on the suit jacket will hit, and consequently, the length of the lapel. Button stance is a matter of preference and the cut of the jacket, but generally on a two button suit, most men want the button stance to hit 1”‐2” above the belly button.

ONE BUTTON JACKET – A one button jacket carries a lower button stance and is traditionally seen on formalwear. However, fashion forward men of today are wearing the one button suit with confidence as a go between for their office suits and their formal suits. These types of suits were made famous by jazz legend Miles Davis. I myself have a one button blazer in my arsenal and love busting it out whenever I can.

TWO BUTTON JACKET – The most common button stance for today’s suits. It flatters all body types and sizes. Traditionally,the bottom button of a two button jacket is left undone to facilitate mobility. You cannot go wrong with this no matter who you are.

THREE BUTTON JACKET – Popular in the 80’s and 90’’s the three button jacket carries a higher button stance and subsequently is sometimes favored by taller gentlemen as it accentuates their torso and takes attention away from the legs. Conventionally, the top button of a three button jacket is optional, the middle button should always be fastened, and the bottom button should be left undone.  I have not seen this kind of suit in years, except on my old man. If you’re feeling uber confident/nostalgic by all means dip into this style.

jacket_buttons_onejacket_buttons_twojacket_buttons_three

DOUBLE BREASTED JACKET – A suit jacket or blazer with wide, overlapping front flaps that fasten by buttons across the body.Double breasted suits have seen a resurgence in popularity as of late. Hint: My next suit will be a double breasted wide peaked lapel one!

SINGLE BREASTED JACKET – The standard suit jacket where there is only a slight overlap of the front flaps of the jacket, fastened by a single row of buttons up the middle

VENT – The opening or slit at the back of the suit jacket originally added to jackets for sporting purposes of riding horses as they add in mobility. The vent now is useful to maintain a clean profile when sitting and to be able to easily access pockets. Variations include centre vents (characteristic of Italian tailoring and a personal favorite of mine), side vents (or double vents, characteristic of British Tailoring), and no vents (characteristic of formal wear to maintain a clean profile while standing).

vents_sidevents_centervents_none

POCKETS – Standard suit jackets come equipped with a variety of inner pockets and three outer pockets. The side pockets on the front are flapped with a layer of piping around the edges to allow a man to tuck them in for a cleaner look, while the breast pocket is located on the left side and sits open allowing for a pocket square to be displayed.

SLEEVE BUTTONS – All men’s suit jackets will have a varying number of buttons sewn to the bottom of the sleeves. 4 buttons sewn close together without functionality is the standard for most suits, but the jacket can be constructed to facilitate working / functional buttons, also known as Surgeon’s sleeves. Tip: Get the functional buttonholes on your next custom suit and wear 3 of them unbuttoned for a touch of Sprezzatura like I do 😉

WAISTCOAT / VEST – What was once the norm in men’s suiting to always wear a vest, has fallen in and out of style for decades. Currently, vests are seen as a stylish way to dress up a regular suit. Vests are meant to sit right on the waist of the trousers at their highest point on the sides and come to a point in line with the bottom of a belt. Traditionally the bottom button on the vest is left undone to aid in comfort while sitting.

ARMHOLE – The place where the sleeve meets the body of the jacket. Traditionally all suits were made with higher (small) armholes which aid in mobility, however the norm has moved to lower armholes which make the jacket easier to take on and off, except when it comes to bespoke tailoring.

Now let’s take a trip below the belt…I’m talking about the pants! C’mon gentlemen, get your head out of the gutter

WAIST – The waist of a pair of suit pants can be held in place in a variety of methods – the use of a belt, facilitated by belt loops is most common however adjustable side tabs are common in formalwear and keep a clean minimalist look to the pant, or even suspender buttons on the inside of the waistband. On a custom made suit, I love the side tabs! Why? Because a custom pair of pants should fit so well that you don’t need a belt! Another option I also love, suspender buttons, real suspenders (braces) are a throwback and a way to stand out above the crowd

CUFFS – The permanently turned up margin of the trouser bottoms, the main purpose of which is to reinforce the highest stress part of the pant – the bottom to avoid fraying or damage from wet and muddy conditions. This look is more of a personal preference, it is now trendy, but I would say look better on taller gentlemen as they visually shorten the leg a bit.

PLEATS – A vertical fold at the waistline of a pair of pants permanently sewn back over itself to give more freedom of movement and comfort. They are most commonly seen on pants with higher rises and waistlines, and a common choice for larger gentlemen. Now I’ve heard some things that pleats are on the way back, but I just haven’t seen it enough to be sure. 

Suspender Buttons

Suspender Buttons

Single Pleated pants

Single Pleated pants

cuffed pants

cuffed pants

So there you have it ladies and gents, you should now really know your suits. And do you know where you can get a suit with all these features and more? EPH Apparel that’s where! Contact me for a private fitting today. We also do custom shirts and accessories and have $40 discounts on wedding party orders plus a free accessory. Treat yourself and stand out above the rest!

The Don

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