American Suit

Mandarin Suit

The mandarin suit is less well known than its relatives, the Italian, British and American styles of mens suits, but it is the perfect attire for some occasions. Inspired by the lines of menswear in the east, this suit style might not be what you would choose for a highly formal occasion, but it has its place among the business suits in many a savvy dresser's wardrobe.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of the mandarin suit, think of the Nehru jacket (after the much-loved and respected Indian politician), or the jackets worn by the rather more controversial Chairman Mao. Imported into western tradition, mandarin style mens suits have found their way into business suit ranges, and even into the realms of formal wear, including tuxedo design.

The hallmark of the mandarin style is the collar on the jacket. This is a small, upright collar band. It does not fold over, in the sense in which we are more used to understanding the word "collar" in western traditions. If you have never seen this style you might be surprised to see how they have been taken up by contemporary designers, in the western world as well as their eastern homeland.

The modern mandarin collar suit has the elegance you might expect if you are familiar with the lines of oriental art. The jacket is sleek, snug and simple-without fussiness or unnecessary detail. Depending on the materials and colors used, the suit can be just as stylish as a designer suit by a big name Italian designer, and has earned its place in the pantheon of business suits. In light colours and linen and similar fabrics, this style of suit can also be summery and elegantly casual.

The look of these mens suits is clean and minimalist, with the jacket often substantially longer than jacket of a conventional suit. Without the V-shaped "gorge" of the conventional suit, the mandarin jacket will usually also have a number of buttons. The eye is drawn to the vertical, making this a flattering jacket style for men of shorter stature, although long jackets should be approached with caution by men with shorter legs. The length of the jacket tends to emphasise the torso, at the expense of leg length.

Mandarin suit styles aren't just for people whose roots lie in eastern lands. If you have an individualistic sense of style, or a dislike for conventional suits, then the great thing about this oriental style is that it is still unusual enough to make a bold statement. A big bonus for some men is this: with a mandarin collar, you simply can't add a tie, even if you want to, although you'll have to have appropriate shirts to wear these distinctive business suits with. If you want to make a slightly different fashion statement, this could be one of the suit styles that will help you do that.

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