Mens Suit Styles

You may think that mens suit styles are all pretty much alike, and that apart from color, material and degree of formality they are all variations on the same theme. Of course that is partly true. By definition, they all consist of a jacket and a pair of trousers, and sometimes a waistcoat. However, there are subtleties in suit styles that, if you are aware of them, are helpful to know when shopping for your wardrobe and fine-tuning your image.

The principal distinction in this category of menswear is fairly obvious. For weddings, funerals and similar occasions you may need a dress suit, white tie, tails and/or a tuxedo. Many of us will need these so rarely that hiring formal attire is a sensible option. All other suits fall into the category of business suits, and are regarded as informal wear.

"Informal" can still be smart and elegant, and suitable for events where you need to look your best on important occasions. Some mens suit styles will be perfect for upmarket venues, job interviews and so on. Others will help you to achieve a smart casual look for gatherings and events that demand style without formality.

There are four main categories of mens suits that you need to be familiar with before parting with your hard-earned cash.

  1. British Suit
  2. Italian Suit
  3. Western or American Suit
  4. Mandarin or Eastern Suit

Though there may be some crossover, these four suit styles are the main ones you will encounter when planning your purchase. Telling them apart is fairly simple.

The British style is characterised by a single-breasted jacket, whereas the Italian suit is double-breasted (with two rows of buttons on the jacket). The American style suit (also known as the sac suit) is a single-breasted suit, with an air of informality conveyed by the simple cut and unelaborated detailing. The Mandarin style takes its name from the mandarin collar, rather than lapels, on the jacket and is derived from oriental couture.

The suit jacket more or less defines the style, but of course trousers are also styled to go with the jacket. Variations include whether the front is pleated, the style of pocket, and whether they have cuffs or turn-ups. The impact of the suit will depend significantly on the styling, as well as on the quality of the cut, the material and the color. The dark suit is synonymous with a more formal look. Pinstripes say "professional". Similarly, tweed says "informal", while linen implies summer elegance.

Among business suits, the American suit is ideal for everyday work wear, and is perhaps the most versatile of the four, although the classic styling of the British suit also makes it a flexible choice for inclusion in your wardrobe. The double-breasted Italian style suit is more formal, while the Mandarin suit, which doesn't demand a tie, is less formal.

Different cuts of mens suit can be matched to your body type, to emphasise the strengths of a man's physique and draw attention away from any physical flaws. For this reason, understanding mens suit styles is just important when you're shopping as getting the color and fabric that suit your purpose.

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