Your Essential Guide To Understanding Suit Jargon

You step into a tailor's to get fitted for a suit and suddenly you're being overwhelmed by all these foreign terms. Lapels? Pocket square? Vents? You just want a jacket and pants, dangnabit! Calm down and read up on our guide to suit jargon. We explain what these terms mean, what these different styles can do for you and basically, how to pick a better suit in future.

Single-Breasted
This traditional design with two or three buttons can be worn buttoned or unbuttoned and is always appropriate. Always leave the bottom button undone.
Double-Breasted
This type of jacket conveys a formal, elegant image. It should always be buttoned. It should be part of a suit, or a blue blazer — otherwise, stick to single-breasted.
Single Vent (pictured right)
This style creates a boxy, conservative image. If you’re sporting this type of jacket, don’t put your hands in your trouser pockets — the spread will expose your butt to everyone in the room, which is hardly the apex of style.

Double Vent
This type of coat adds shape to your suit by emphasizing the outside lines of your body, which also makes you look taller. You can move around easily while wearing it, so you’ll also appear more graceful.

No Vent

Having no vents at all streamlines suits and gives them a modern look. The jacket hugs the body and is very form-fitting. The lack of vents makes the jacket a bit uncomfortable when you sit down. This style looks best on a very lean man.
Notched Lapel
Heikal Gani, president and co-founder of Indochino, an online premium custom clothier, has this to say about the notched lapel, "This is the most versatile of the lapels is usually found on single-breasted jackets, and is the most common style we see. It is used on most jackets, sports coats and blazers, and is suitable for semi-formal to casual events."
 
 
Peaked Lapel
"This lapel style is found on double-breasted jackets and is normally meant for formal occasions. You can find this on tailcoats, morning coats and dinner jackets," says Heikal.
Shawl Lapel
This lapel is a continuous curve and is now more commonly seen as part of a tuxedo. "It is now one of the most formal and specialised types of lapels only meant for formal occasions like black-tie events," advises Heikal.

Next: Picking Fabric, Pants and Pocket Squares

Images courtesy of Raoul, Indochino & The Straits Times

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