chapter 3: the suit
How much attention do we really pay when buying a suit ? Colour is generally our primary concern, "I love the colour,"
Great, "lets try it on" all being well with the fit, we tend to purchase it.
High street stores will give you numerous colour options, but wait, pay careful attention to the detail of the suit, Yes, they are all very similar. Why?
Well, off the peg suits are fashion based.
If its in fashion then for certain its in the shop, designer lapels start a trend and over an 18 month period this trend will filter down to the high street.
Ever tried buying a double breasted suit?, Impossible why?, its not in fashion. Well, with bespoke and made to measure suits you are the fashion designer, you never have to look like any other person ever again. Your suit can be as conservative or trendy as you wish.
At Sartorial Rebels we go to great lengths to address all the available style options .
Below is a brief list of those available:
A suit has many similarities to a car, style and design being of primary importance, engineering and construction are often over looked as these are elements we do not see. The suit is no different, One of the elements that makes a suit a great suit happens between the fabric and the lining, yes, the canvas!
What Is Canvas?
A term many people don’t encounter until venturing into the world of made-to-measure and bespoke suiting is “Canvas”, so it can be a source of much confusion. More specifically, this refers to what is also known as a “Canvas Interlining”.
At Sartorial Rebels, all our suits come with a Half Canvas construction as standard, but customers can instead choose a Full Canvas construction if they wish. What’s the point of a Canvas Interlining? What’s the difference between the two choices?
The Canvas Interlining is typically made from horsehair (often blended with cotton) or synthetic material and, as the “Interlining” part suggests, a layer of this material is sandwiched between the cloth you see on the outside, and the lining you see on the inside. The purpose of the Canvas Interlining is to help give the suit jacket support for its shape, a bit like a skeleton - indeed, this internal layer (along with other hidden components, such as shoulder padding) is also often referred to as a suit’s “structure”.
Canvas helps the jacket sit, hang and fit better on your body - what’s known as the “drape” and allows the suit to ultimately achieve what it’s designed for: to accentuate the shape.
Elegance is an art, it is the balance between good taste, good technique and experience which is expressed in every detail.
The Half Canvas construction quite literally extends from the padded shoulder to about halfway down the jacket body. This allows for a robust and well-shaped shoulder structure - a very important part of a well-fitting jacket - and also ensures the jacket tapers elegantly towards the waist.
The Full Canvas option extends further down the jacket’s front, adding additional structure and weight, allowing the jacket to mould more accurately to your shape with a superior drape. In short, a Full Canvas suit will fit better than any other option.
Canvas also has the advantage of improving the durability of a jacket by distributing tension from stress points (such as the elbows and shoulders) and helps it cope with the rigours of dry cleaning, and of course this is even more relevant on a Full Canvas suit as there’s more canvas to provide the added durability.
Canvassed & Pad-Stitched Lapels
Both our Half Canvas and Full Canvas construction also extend the canvas into the jacket lapels, which are pad-stitched. This is vital for giving them the correct shape and support, as well as enabling a smooth lapel roll.
What’s a lapel roll and why do I want a smooth one? Good question.
If you look at the front of a jacket you’ll notice that the lapel is actually a section of the jacket that is turned back on itself - from the collar, down to the buttoning point at the waist. Therefore, the lapel roll refers to this length of turned back - or “rolled” - fabric.
On a poorly made suit lacking a proper canvas structure the lapel is quite often pressed flat with a crease, it is lifeless and lacks any of the gently curving and attractive looking “roll” whatsoever.
Notched lapel or peaked lapel? So, what exactly are the differences? And when should you wear one over the other? First, a little background: For those that may need a refresher, the lapel of a man’s suit is the folded flap of cloth on a jacket. Typically, it is formed by folding over the front edges of the jacket and sewing to the collar. There are actually (3) types of lapels – notched, peaked, and shawl. The latter is basically what you see on a dinner jacket (aka tuxedo). Since the dinner jacket is in a world all its own, we will focus on the two most common lapels, the notched lapel and peaked lapel.
The Notched Lapel
The notched lapel is the venerable standard in men’s suiting. It’s traditional yet contemporary and will be found on jackets ranging from your weekend sport coat to your go-to business suit. By definition, the notched lapel is categorized by a ‘notch’ where the jacket collar meets the lapel at a 75 – 90 deg angle. If you have one suit, make it a notched lapel, simply because this style is the most versatile. You can wear it to work, to the bar, to an interview, just about anywhere you like.
If you are used to buying off-the-rack suits then you’ve probably owned all notched lapel suits. On the other hand, with bespoke suiting, you have the choice. You may even adjust the size of the notch. For instance, a slimmer lapel demands a very subdued notch, whereas a wider lapel has more room for creativity.Body type considerations? None at all. As a testament to the versatility of this lapel, all guys can make this look good. A notched lapel will even take you to some rather elegant occasions. However, if the event is significantly formal or if you are shopping for a double breasted suit, you better consider the alternative – the peaked lapel.
The Peaked Lapel
A peaked lapel is defined by the lapel edges pointing up and towards the shoulder. Traditionally, this lapel was seen in very formal garments like the morning coat or the tailcoat. In modern times this look is (unfairly?) constrained to the realm of executive offices and formal events. You can’t really dress down a peaked lapel. Whether it’s on a double breasted suit or not, you’ll stand out from the crowd. If you choose to widen the lapel and then go peaked, well, now you are really making a statement.
Regardless, don’t shy away from the peaked look. Yes, it’s generally a more formal look than the notched lapel, but is there anything wrong with dressing up? Of course not! Aside from turning some heads at a wedding you’ll look great in your office.
Did You Know?
It was not until the late 1930s that the suit became the accepted uniform of all office workers. Prior to this a matching jacket, vest and trousers was worn on informal occasions.
How many buttons should my suit have? Which is best? This is a highly contested issue in the menswear arena, so let’s weigh-in on the rules, exceptions, and history of it all in hopes that it may help you figure out what works best for your height, weight, and personal style.
The One Button
The one-button suit jacket, in my opinion, is changing the game. Once thought of as the casual man’s go-to for those “fancy” events, the one-button is now gaining popularity at Black Tie and formal events. I love the one-button because it gives me the deeper V to show off a killer shirt and tie combo or vest.
A friend of mine wears his one-button with peak lapels, pocket squares, and plenty of patterned shirts. It works very well for shorter gentlemen and those with a little stockier build. Having only one button, it allows for freedom and comfort around the midsection, even when buttoned.
The Two Button
The quintessential two-button jacket is what nearly every man has in his closet. It’s a classic. It’s timeless. It’s suitable for every occasion. The traditional two-button is basically fail-proof. It has a slightly higher button stance than the one-button, but still leaves ample room to show off that shirt and tie. It generally buttons at the proper shirt waist, so you’ll end up getting a nice, slimmer silhouette.
The Three Button
The three-button suit is for a rare breed. If you’re a taller man, this might be the greatest thing since sliced bread for you. With a higher button stance, you’ll have a shallower V, revealing less shirt and tie, but it will give you a very neat and clean look.
It’s a difficult suit to wear if you’ve got a little extra mass around your middle, as it’s designed to stay long and lean when buttoned.
It reached palpable fame in the mid-1990s, but has since fallen out of style. The men wearing three-button jackets these days are either very tall, very outdated, or very English.
What is perhaps the considered the ‘standard’ choice for a suit or jacket (a single breasted two button.) The next obvious style to consider is the double breasted. Yet for such a recognised alternative, it occupies a relatively small, perhaps even non-existent part of the modern man’s wardrobe. This is largely a result of fear or lack of understanding.
The DB is often seen as old-fashioned, and therefore worn by older men; it is seen as serious and formal, particularly in a pinstripe; and many consider it unflattering. well nothing could be further from the truth. What are the benefits of a DB jacket?
One thing that’s certain is that a double-breasted suit adds breadth to a man, as it takes the standard, single-breasted lapel and pulls it further across the body. It is a strong, diagonal streak.
The peaked lapels also create breadth because they point outwards. Even if the peak appears high on the lapel, the top of it will be relatively horizontal, slanting across the chest.
And the buttons, whether there are six, four or two, create horizontal lines as well – or indeed a box, if there are six or four.
A double-breasted jacket can therefore be good for a slim man with narrow shoulders, giving him much-needed breadth.
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