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Significance of suit styles/details?


Well-Known Member
Jun 5, 2008
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I've been lurking for a little while, looking for information on this particular topic, and have come up dry. I hope the SF fashion gurus can help me out. And this really is a guru topic, I suspect; important stuff first, so you can skip and post a response at any point after the actual question. In fact, I recommend it, because I'm going to go into mind-numbing detail eventually!


What do the material, construction, and details of suits mean? I understand what they are, but I don't know what they say about the wearer or their relative importance. I am a complete suit newbie, so use small words and speak slowly.


From reading SF discussions, and newbie introductions like the one at A Tailored Suit, I understand what the details of construction are, or can look them up. I get the difference between canvassed and fused, I get working buttonholes, I get 2.5-button suits, and so on.

What I don't find is explanations of what these things mean. Presumably, when it comes to "details" such as opera-ticket pockets or Hermes's famous lambskin pockets, the more the merrier. But only a few of us have the budget to just say "give me everything."

So please, give me some advice on what I should be looking for in the following categories.

a) Functional quality. Elements that affect durability, ease of cleaning, comfort.

b) Wow factor. Elements that people will notice and be impressed by. In particular, what these elements mean -- what message they send.

c) Personal pleasure. Aside from simple comfort, elements that will make the suit a joy to wear.


Stars like Cary Grant and his modern successor George Clooney have a personal style that is impeccably gussied up yet amazingly laid-back -- look at Clooney's "Ocean's Eleven," or look at any number of older European men, for the model I want to follow. If these people were any more relaxed, they would melt into tapioca pudding; but all they have to do is fasten one or two buttons and put on a tie and they're at home in a boardroom. That is exactly the message I want to send. I work in software, my work will never require business attire: I want to look awesome on my off hours.


I'm such a total fashion simpleton that I don't really even know my suit jacket size. I bought a 40L and it is clearly a bit too long, though not obnoxiously so. I have a bit of a gut I'm aiming to lose -- 36/30 trousers. Fairly broad shoulders and chest currently sadly balanced out by the belly. I stand 6'0" and weigh 210.


For most of my life, as kind of a geek, my style was "look completely unexceptional." Jeans and t-shirts. Recently I've taken to cheap jeans, black leather shoes in the $50-$100 range, and casual button-down shirts, maybe open with a t-shirt underneath. I recognize that if I want to have any particular style, this is not acceptable. But rather than upgrade my bargain-budget version of street style...

I am new to suits, but for the last year, I've had the urge to become I just this week bought a cream Cesarani summer suit (not top-end by any stretch of the imagination, but if I was going to screw up a purchase I wanted it to be a small one) and realized I love wearing it. I also realize, from reading SF critique threads, that it doesn't have an especially good fit -- sleeves are halfway between wrist and knuckles, tail is a tad long (about an inch below the top of my thighs), the collar might not be quite right... but on the whole, I can live with it, and I see worse-fitting coats every day.


Currently "The World Ends With You," for Nintendo DS. Square's best since Final Fantasy Tactics. ...are you still reading this? Jesus. I told you ahead of time that you could quit and reply whenever you wanted.


Distinguished Member
May 11, 2006
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a) Functional quality. Elements that affect durability, ease of cleaning, comfort.

b) Wow factor. Elements that people will notice and be impressed by. In particular, what these elements mean -- what message they send.

c) Personal pleasure. Aside from simple comfort, elements that will make the suit a joy to wear.
A) is driven primarily by two considerations: cloth and construction. Generally, higher quality worsted wool cloths in the 9-11 oz range will afford the best trade off between durability and wearability. Flannels are, generally, more delicate than worsted suitings and require more pampering (longer resting between wearings etc) than worsted cloths. Although fusing has improved over the years, a canvassed jacket will more likely last longer. With wool, the idea is to have it dry cleaned only where necessary and mostly maintain it by brushing it out and spot cleaning.

B)really depends on what effect you're trying to achieve. It seems based on your post that you'd be looking for a more unstructured Neapolitan style or maybe something along the lines of Anderson and Sheppard (not that you have to buy A&S). Look for iammatt's posts on the what are you wearing thread and see if that's what you're trying to describe. His are bespoke but there are some approximations in RTW. If you see what you like on WAYWRN, often there's some indication of where it came from.An element by element analysis is not as useful as you may think since it's an overall look you'd be trying to achieve rather than some patchwork of disparate elements- it'd really look like a patchwork.

C. For me it's a combination of it fitting well, being made of good cloth and having enough pockets.


Senior Member
May 20, 2008
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I recommend worrying less about what a style says, and more about how it looks on you. For example, if you have a long neck, you may want to balance it with a tall collar. Different collar styles, in isolation, do not mean much. When you put a shirt on, then the collar starts to say something. What you want it to say is natural and confident as opposed to "would have looked better on Clooney."


Stylish Dinosaur
Jan 3, 2008
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i agree with coconut, i think it would work best to go with what compliments you.

I'm a skinny guy, so i lean towards thin lapels, good waist waist suppression, thin cuts, medium to tall collars, and french cuffs.

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