Fashion Focus: The Gentleman’s Guide to Suiting
While fashion trends may come and go, there’s nothing better than seeing a man in a well-cut suit; one that flatters his shape, regardless of what that shape may be. Read on to discover the essential tips, tricks and rules of dressing like a real gentleman irrespective of your suiting budget.
Know suit cuts and styles
The most important step is to make sure you’re choosing the right style suit for your shape from the offset.
The American cut: The ideal starter suit, the American cut has a straight waist with a centre vent in the jacket. Aimed at emphasising your natural shape, there are no shoulder pads and the pockets are a flap design.
The British cut: Typically known as the classic cut, the suits feature a lightly pinched waist with double vents in the jacket. Like the American cut, jackets have flap pockets, however, there is padding in the shoulder to give the jacket more structure.
The Italian cut: Sleek and modern comes to mind with the Italian cut, in line with the sports cars Italy are world-renowned for. Jackets are tapered at the waist, resembling a V shape. Pockets are flapless to maintain the sleek aesthetic and shoulders are padded.
Once you’ve chosen your cut, the fit is just as important. These tips will make sure that your suit fits as close to bespoke as possible.
Shoulder to wall: Wear the jacket, and with the outside of your shoulder facing the wall, slowly lean into the wall. The ideal fit is when both your shoulder and the padding hit the wall at the same time.
The hug test: If when pretending to hug someone whilst wearing the jacket it feels like a seam is about to burst, go up a size or try a different brand.
Collar test: Button your shirt up to the collar, if you can fit more than one or two fingers (depending on your preference) between the collar and your neck, go down a size.
Handshake test: Whilst standing in front of a mirror, you pretend to shake someone’s hand and notice the jacket rising in the shoulder area, find a brand with higher arm holes that is less likely to shift when you move.
Curled fingers for sleeve length: With the jacket on and relaxed arms by your side, curl your fingers around the tail of the jacket. The ideal length is when it comes to rest in the crevice your fingers have made.
Legend has it that the trend of leaving the bottom buttons undone originated in the early 1900s when King Edward VII apparently got so rotund, he was unable to fasten the buttons on both his jackets and waistcoats! To avoid offending the king, those who associated with him did the same. As England was an imperial power at the time, the trend quickly spread across the globe. Now, suits are constructed in such a way that to ensure they fit well, bottom buttons must be left undone.
Single-breasted suits: If wearing a one-button suit, unless sitting down, the button should always be fastened. On a two-button suit, the top button should remain fastened while the bottom is left undone. On a three-button suit, you can either fasten the top and middle buttons, or simply the middle one dependent on the type of lapel the jacket features. Jackets with four or more buttons follow the same rule of leaving the last button undone.
Double-breasted suits: Much easier than single-breasted styles, all buttons should be fastened except the bottom once. Due to the fabric needed for the style, all buttons should be fastened until it is taken off, whether seated or standing.