British, American, Italian; double-vented, no vent, single-vented; Navy-blue, charcoal-gray, pinstripes and window-pane. If you’re like most guys, in the process of buying your first suit (or even third, let’s be honest), the options can be baffling. How’s a fellow supposed to know where to start?
Let’s start with the good news then: suits are classics and while there are a lot of options, as long as you stay away from anything that glows in the dark, as long as it fits you well you’re going to look good. Stay within the basics, which we’ll be going over in a moment and you’ll be able to dress for whatever occasion and never have to fear that someone it going to be whispering behind your back, “can you believe he wore a single-vent suit to a wedding?”
For starters, there are four basic styles of suit that you can consider. Italian, British, American and Double-Breasted. These terms primarily refer to the cut of the jacket. The first three will all feature a single row of buttons (typically one, two or three, anything more and you’re likely getting ahead of yourself). A British suit will typically feature the most shoulder padding, give a more broad look and is usually double-vented (that means two slits in the back of the jacket). The Italian suit, has a medium shoulder pad still giving a boxy look but generally a slimmer profile than the British suit. It usually does not have any vent. The American style is the least padded and feature a single vent in the centre. This style tends to increase the impression of height on the wearer. These days, check out the choices on any suit though, as styles are becoming more fluid and it is not at all unusual to find a suit with Italian cut chest and shoulders and vents, for example. Lastly, the double-breasted suit, mostly in vogue from the mid 80s and 90s, this cut is unique because it features a double row of buttons in a rectangular configuration. Best worn by the tall and slim as it can cause the appearance of a broader waist area.
As far as color is concerned, the general rule is that you can’t go wrong with Navy blue (the closer to black the better, but black itself is often too severe) or a charcoal gray. If you only own one suit, make it one of these—both will be appropriate at any situation and because of the fairly neutral colors will make it easy for you to be creative and versatile with your shirts and ties, creating your own signature look. If you were a suit several times per week at work or are looking for more variety, then consider the pinstripe or windowpane variations, to shake things up a little bit.
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