More casual suits are characterised by less construction and tailoring, much like the sack suit is a loose American style.
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The variations in design, cut, and cloth, such as two- and three-piece, or single- and double-breasted, determine the social and work suitability of the garment. Often, suits are worn, as is traditional, with a collared shirt and necktie.
Suits also come with different numbers of pieces: Originally, as with most clothes, a tailor made the suit from his client's selected cloth; these are now often known as bespoke suits. The suit was custom made to the measurements, taste, and style of the man. Since the Industrial Revolution , most suits are mass-produced, and, as such, are sold as ready-to-wear garments though alteration by a tailor prior to wearing is common.
Currently, suits are sold in roughly four ways:. The current styles were founded in the industrial revolution during the late 18th century that sharply changed the elaborately embroidered and jewelled formal clothing into the simpler clothing of the British Regency period, which gradually evolved to the stark formality of the Victorian era.
It was in the search for more comfort that the loosening of rules gave rise in the late 19th century to the modern lounge suit.
Brooks Brothers is generally credited with first offering the "ready-to-wear" suit, a suit which was sold already manufactured and sized, ready to be tailored. It was Haggar Clothing that first introduced the concept of suit separates in the US, the concept of separately sold jackets and trousers, which are widely found in the marketplace today.
As a suit in this sense covers all or most of the wearer's body, the term "suit" was extended to a single garment that covers all or most of the body, such as boilersuits and diving suits and spacesuits see Suit disambiguation. There are many possible variations in the choice of the style, the garments and the details of a suit.
The silhouette of a suit is its outline. Tailored balance created from a canvas fitting allows a balanced silhouette so a jacket need not be buttoned and a garment is not too tight or too loose. A proper garment is shaped from the neck to the chest and shoulders to drape without wrinkles from tension. Shape is the essential part of tailoring that often takes hand work from the start. The two main cuts are 1 double-breasted suits, a conservative design with two columns of buttons, spanned by a large overlap of the left and right sides; and 2 single-breasted suits, in which the sides overlap very slightly, with a single column of buttons.
Good tailoring anywhere in the world is characterised by strongly tapered sides and minimal shoulder, whereas often rack suits are padded to reduce labour. More casual suits are characterised by less construction and tailoring, much like the sack suit is a loose American style. The acid test of authentic tailoring standards is the wrinkle that comes from poor tailoring. Rumples can be pressed out. For interim fittings, "Rock Of Eye" which means trained freehand based on an experienced artistic eye to match the item to the wearer, trusting the eye over unyielding scripted approach , drawing and cutting inaccuracies are overcome by the fitting.
Suits are made in a variety of fabrics, but most commonly from wool. The two main yarns produce worsteds where the fibres are combed before spinning to produce a smooth, hard wearing cloth and woollens where they are not, thus remaining comparatively fluffy in texture.
These can be woven in a number of ways producing flannel , tweed , gabardine , and fresco among others. These fabrics all have different weights and feel, and some fabrics have an S or Super S number describing the fineness of the fibres measured by average fibre diameter, e. Although wool has traditionally been associated with warm, bulky clothing meant for warding off cold weather, advances in making finer and finer fibre have made wool suits acceptable for warmer weather, as fabrics have accordingly become lighter and more supple.
Wool fabric is denominated by the weight of a one-square yard piece; thus, the heavier wools, suitable for winter only, are 12—14 oz. In the days before central heating, heavier wools such as 16 oz. Other materials are used sometimes, either alone or blended with wool, such as cashmere. Synthetic materials, while cheaper, e. At most, a blend of predominantly wool may be acceptable to obtain the main benefit of synthetics, namely resistance to wrinkling, particularly in garments used for travel; however, any synthetic, blended or otherwise, will always be warmer and clammier than wool alone.
The main four colours for suits worn in business are black, light grey, dark grey, and navy, either with or without patterns. In particular, grey flannel suiting has been worn very widely since the s. In non-business settings or less-formal business contexts, brown is another important colour; olive also occurs.
In summer, lighter shades such as tan or cream are popular. For non-business use tweed has been popular since Victorian times, and still is commonly worn. A wide range of colour is available, including muted shades of green, brown, red, and grey. While full tweed suits are not worn by many now, the jackets are often worn as sports jackets with odd trousers trousers of different cloth. The most conventional suit is a 2- or 3-button and either medium to dark grey or navy.
Other conservative colours are greys, black, and olive. White and light blues are acceptable at some events, especially in the warm season.
Red and the brighter greens are usually considered "unconventional" and "garish". Tradition calls for a gentleman's suit to be of decidedly plain colour, with splashes of bright colour reserved for shirts, neckties or kerchiefs.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, around the start of the 20th century, lounge suits were never traditionally worn in plain black, this colour instead being reserved for formal wear  including dinner jackets or strollers , and for undertakers. However, the decline of formal wear since the s and the rise of casual wear in s allowed the black suit to return to fashion, as many designers began wanting to move away from the business suit toward more fashion suits.
Traditional business suits are generally in solid colours or with pin stripes ;  windowpane checks are also acceptable. Outside business, the range of acceptable patterns widens, with plaids such as the traditional glen plaid and herringbone, though apart from some very traditional environments such as London banking, these are worn for business now too. The colour of the patterned element stripes, plaids , and checks varies by gender and location.
For example, bold checks, particularly with tweeds, have fallen out of use in the US, while they continue to be worn as traditionally in Britain. Some unusual old patterns such as diamonds are now rare everywhere. Inside the jacket of a suit, between the outer fabric and the inner lining , there is a layer of sturdy interfacing fabric to prevent the wool from stretching out of shape; this layer of cloth is called the canvas after the fabric from which it was traditionally made.
Expensive jackets have a floating canvas , while cheaply manufactured models have a fused glued canvas. Most single-breasted suits have two or three buttons, and one or four buttons are unusual except that dinner jackets "black tie" often have only one button. It is rare to find a suit with more than four buttons, although zoot suits can have as many as six or more due to their longer length.
There is also variation in the placement and style of buttons,  since the button placement is critical to the overall impression of height conveyed by the jacket. The centre or top button will typically line up quite closely with the natural waistline. It usually crosses naturally with the left side to the fore but not invariably. Generally, a hidden button holds the underlap in place. Double-breasted jackets have only half their outer buttons functional, as the second row is for display only, forcing them to come in pairs.
Some rare jackets can have as few as two buttons, and during various periods, for instance the s and 70s, as many as eight were seen. Six buttons are typical, with two to button; the last pair floats above the overlap. The three buttons down each side may in this case be in a straight line the 'keystone' layout or more commonly, the top pair is half as far apart again as each pair in the bottom square.
A four-button double-breasted jacket usually buttons in a square. For example, if the buttons are too low, or the lapel roll too pronounced, the eyes are drawn down from the face, and the waist appears larger. The jacket's lapels can be notched also called "stepped" , peaked "pointed" , shawl, or "trick" Mandarin and other unconventional styles. Each lapel style carries different connotations, and is worn with different cuts of suit. Notched lapels are the most common of the three are usually only found on single-breasted jackets and are the most informal style.
They are distinguished by a 75 to 90 degree 'notch' at the point where the lapel meets the collar. Double-breasted jackets usually have peaked lapels, although peaked lapels are often found on single breasted jackets as well. Shawl lapels are a style derived from the Victorian informal evening wear, and as such are not normally seen on suit jackets except for tuxedos or dinner suits.
In the s, double-breasted suits with notched lapels were popular with power suits and the New Wave style. In the late s and s, a design considered very stylish was the single-breasted peaked lapel jacket. This has gone in and out of vogue periodically, being popular once again during the s, [ citation needed ] and is still a recognised alternative. The ability to properly cut peak lapels on a single-breasted suit is one of the most challenging tailoring tasks, even for very experienced tailors.
The width of the lapel is a varying aspect of suits, and has changed over the years. The s and s featured exceptionally wide lapels, whereas during the late s and most of the s suits with very narrow lapels—often only about an inch wide—were in fashion. The s saw mid-size lapels with a low gorge the point on the jacket that forms the "notch" or "peak" between the collar and front lapel. Current mids trends are towards a narrower lapel and higher gorge. Lapels also have a buttonhole , intended to hold a boutonnière , a decorative flower.
These are now only commonly seen at more formal events. Usually double-breasted suits have one hole on each lapel with a flower just on the left , while single-breasted suits have just one on the left. Most jackets have a variety of inner pockets, and two main outer pockets, which are generally either patch pockets, flap pockets, or jetted "besom" pockets. The flap pocket is standard for side pockets, and has an extra lined flap of matching fabric covering the top of the pocket.
A jetted pocket is most formal, with a small strip of fabric taping the top and bottom of the slit for the pocket. This style is most often on seen on formalwear , such as a dinner jacket. A breast pocket is usually found at the left side, where a pocket square or handkerchief can be displayed. In addition to the standard two outer pockets and breast pocket, some suits have a fourth, the ticket pocket, usually located just above the right pocket and roughly half as wide.
While this was originally exclusively a feature of country suits, used for conveniently storing a train ticket, it is now seen on some town suits. Another country feature also worn sometimes in cities is a pair of hacking pockets, which are similar to normal ones, but slanted; this was originally designed to make the pockets easier to open on horseback while hacking.
Suit jackets in all styles typically have three or four buttons on each cuff, which are often purely decorative the sleeve is usually sewn closed and cannot be unbuttoned to open. Five buttons are unusual and are a modern fashion innovation. The number of buttons is primarily a function of the formality of the suit; a very casual summer sports jacket might traditionally s have had only one button, while tweed suits typically have three and city suits four.
In the s, two buttons were seen on some city suits. Although the sleeve buttons usually cannot be undone, the stitching is such that it appears they could. Functional cuff buttons may be found on high-end or bespoke suits; this feature is called a surgeon's cuff and "working button holes" U. Certainty in fitting sleeve length must be achieved, as once working button holes are cut, the sleeve length essentially cannot be altered further.
A cuffed sleeve has an extra length of fabric folded back over the arm, or just some piping or stitching above the buttons to allude to the edge of a cuff. This was popular in the Edwardian era, as a feature of formalwear such as frock coats carried over to informalwear, but is now rare. A vent is a slit in the bottom rear the "tail" of the jacket. Originally, vents were a sporting option, designed to make riding easier, so are traditional on hacking jackets, formal coats such as a morning coat , and, for practicality, overcoats.
Today there are three styles of venting: Vents are convenient, particularly when using a pocket or sitting down, to improve the hang of the jacket,  so are now used on most jackets. Ventless jackets are associated with Italian tailoring, while the double-vented style is typically British. Waistcoats called vests in American English were almost always worn with suits prior to the s.
Due to rationing during World War II , their prevalence declined, but their popularity has gone in and out of fashion from the s onwards. A pocket watch on a chain, one end of which is inserted through a middle buttonhole, is often worn with a waistcoat; otherwise, since World War I when they came to prominence of military necessity, men have worn wristwatches, which may be worn with any suit except the full evening dress white tie.
Although many examples of waistcoats worn with a double-breasted jacket can be found from the s to the s, that would be unusual today one point of a double-breasted jacket being, it may be supposed, to eliminate the waistcoat.
Traditionally, the bottom button of a waistcoat is left undone; like the vents in the rear of a jacket, this helps the body bend when sitting. Some waistcoats can have lapels, others do not. Suit trousers are always made of the same material as the jacket. Even from the s to s, before the invention of sports jackets specifically to be worn with odd trousers, wearing a suit jacket with odd trousers was seen as an alternative to a full suit.
Trouser width has varied considerably throughout the decades. After , trousers began to be tapered in at the bottom half of the leg. Trousers remained wide at the top of the leg throughout the s.
By the s and s, a more slim look had become popular. In the s, suit makers offered a variety of styles of trousers, including flared, bell bottomed, wide-legged, and more traditional tapered trousers. In the s these styles disappeared in favour of tapered, slim-legged trousers. One variation in the design of trousers is the use or not of pleats. The most classic style of trouser is to have two pleats, usually forward, since this gives more comfort sitting and better hang standing.
The style originally descended from the exaggeratedly widened Oxford bags worn in the s in Oxford, which, though themselves short-lived, began a trend for fuller fronts. However, at various periods throughout the last century, flat fronted trousers with no pleats have been worn, and the swing in fashions has been marked enough that the more fashion-oriented ready-to-wear brands have not produced both types continuously.
Turn-ups on the bottom of trousers, or cuffs, were initially popularised in the s by Edward VII ,  and were popular with suits throughout the s and s. They have always been an informal option, being inappropriate on all formalwear. Other variations in trouser style include the rise of the trouser. This was very high in the early half of the 20th century, particularly with formalwear, with rises above the natural waist,  to allow the waistcoat covering the waistband to come down just below the narrowest point of the chest.
Though serving less purpose, this high height was duplicated in the daywear of the period. Since then, fashions have changed, and have rarely been that high again with styles returning more to low-rise trousers, even dropping down to have waistbands resting on the hips. Other changing aspects of the cut include the length, which determines the break, the bunching of fabric just above the shoe when the front seam is marginally longer than height to the shoe's top.
Some parts of the world, such as Europe, traditionally opt for shorter trousers with little or no break, while Americans often choose to wear a slight break.
A final major distinction is made in whether the trousers take a belt or braces suspenders. While a belt was originally never worn with a suit, the forced wearing of belts during wartime years caused by restrictions on use of elastic caused by wartime shortages contributed to their rise in popularity, with braces now much less popular than belts. When braces were common, the buttons for attaching them were placed on the outside of the waistband, because they would be covered by a waistcoat or cardigan, but now it is more frequent to button on the inside of the trouser.
Trousers taking braces are rather different in cut at the waist, employing inches of extra girth and also height at the back. The split in the waistband at the back is in the fishtail shape. Those who prefer braces assert that, because they hang from the shoulders, they always make the trousers fit and hang exactly as they should, while a belt may allow the trouser waist to slip down on the hips or below a protruding midsection, and requires constant repositioning; also, they allow, indeed work best with, a slightly looser waist which gives room for natural expansion when seated.
Suit trousers, also known as dress pants in the US, are a style of trousers intended as formal or semi-formal wear. They are often made of either wool or polyester  although many other synthetic and natural textiles are used and may be designed to be worn with a matching suit jacket.
Suit trousers often have a crease in the front of each pant leg, and may have one or more pleats. It is usually designed as a pair of shorts with a piece of fabric over them, to give the appearance of a skirt. This style was particularly popular in the 90s, when they were knee-length and were most frequently paired with a polo t-shirt. The skort has seen a recent revival in more recent spnigs and summers with the popularization of Zara's modern version.
It has a mid-thigh length, with the "skirt" having an asymmetric hem. The bubble hem skirt puffs out at the bottom due to the hem being tucked back under, resulting in a voluminous style. This skirt was originally popular in the late s and early s, but has since experienced a resurgence in popularity after being seen on the runways.
While its original style was short, it is also now seen in longer lengths. Knee-length styles are versatile enough to be casual, work-friendly, and also work in more formal settings.
As the name suggests, these are a modest length without being too long. The bell-shaped skirt, as the name implies, resembles a bell in that the skirt flares from the waist but falls in a straight line to the knee from that initial flare. It is typically made from heavier fabrics that hold their shape well. The most famous proponent of the bell-shaped skirt is Jackie Kennedy, who frequently wore dresses with bell-shaped skirts to glamorous effect.
The full, knee-length skirt is flattering for all women. The waistband of a full skirt typically cinches at one's true waist, the smallest part of a woman's body, with the rest of the skirt falling to the knee. Traditionally associated with private school uniforms, the pleated skirt has become ubiquitous in recent years. The effect varies based on size of the pleats. For example, thicker pleats are more reminiscent of schoolgirl days, whereas thinner pleats are more contemporary and on-trend.
The pleated skirt can come in a variety of lengths - mid-thigh mini , knee-length, calf-length midi , and even maxi. A more modern take on the skirt is using fabrics like leather or chiffon, as opposed to the more traditional wool-blend. The A-Line skirt, when laid flat, forms a triangle shape where the skirt flares out gently from the waistband. The pencil skirt is a staple for many professional women closet - and rightly so.
This style is cut straight down, and when laid flat, forms a rectangle. The jean skirt is a variant of the pencil skirt, but made with denim. Typically done in a lighter wash, the jean skirt comes in varying lengths, including above the knee and right at knee-length.
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