Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette! Today’s
video is all about suit lingo and terminology so you know what’s going on when your tailor,
your alterations tailor, or someone else talks to you about suits. The suit is one of the
most complex garments in classic menswear because a lot of things go into it and it’s
defined by a lot of details as well as the fit. Each detail of the suit influences another
and so it’s important to understand what it is and how it can affect your overall look.
We’ll cover all the basic terms as well as some advanced ones, actually, there’s so much
to this video that we had to split into two parts. So first of all, what is a suit? The term
suit comes from the French word suivre which means to follow because of that, a suit is
defined as being a matching jacket and trousers, pants, or slacks. This means same color, the
same weave, same pattern. So what is not a suit? For example, a combination of a jacket
with odd trousers or slacks, or a jacket that doesn’t have quite the same fabric even though
the color might be the same. If you have a three-piece suit with a waistcoat, that’s
still considered to be a suit. If you exchange the vest for something contrasting such as
a white vest with a brown suit, it’s still called a suit because it has the two pieces
of jacket and pants. Okay first, let’s look at the overall suit
silhouette or style. On the one hand, you have single-breasted suits and then you have
double-breasted suits. Single breasted means you have a single row of vertical closing
buttons versus double-breasted means you have two rows of closing buttons. For this categorization,
it doesn’t matter how many buttons you have, it can reach from one button over two to three
buttons but also four buttons or five buttons if you have things like a Nehru jacket. A
single-breasted suit does not have any fabric overlap in the front which is the reason those
suits are better for a hot summer weather whereas a double-breasted suit has an overlap
of fabric in the front and is typically a little more formal and it’s better in the
winter because the extra fabric keeps you warmer. Next up are the lapels. These are those pieces
of fabric here that have quite an important influence on the overall look of your garment.
Because it’s folded back, the French term revers which is also used in German or Italian
is really accurate in describing that you see the reverse
side of the fabric. Lapels are always connected to the collar in your back. Typically, the
two most common lapels you can see are either a notched lapel or a peak lapel which always
features this peak. Apart from that, you can also have the mao collar or the so-called
tautz lapel which is kind of a mix of a notch lapel and a peak lapel. Notch lapels are defined
by this straight seam of collar and lapel. Also, unlike a peak lapel, you don’t see any
peak or point. A variation of that comes with an angled line which is also known as the
knize revers after the Viennese tailor, Knize. Traditionally, notch lapels only appear on
single-breasted suits. There was a period in the 80s and 90s where you could see double-breasted
jackets with notch lapels but in terms of classic men’s style clothing, that is a faux
pas. Overall, most men initially feel more comfortable with a notch lapel because it
is less formal and is probably the predominant way to cut a lapel in this day and age. Peak
lapels, on the other hand, always have that little peak so the line goes up and to me,
it’s always indicative of an arrow direction; if the arrow goes up, we have a peak lapel.
If the line comes down and you have a horizontal line and there is no peak up, we’re talking
about a tautz lapel named after the Savile Row house E. Tautz. Unlike notch lapels, peak
lapels can appear on single breasted as well as double-breasted jackets and they are overall
always a bit more formal than the notched ones. Because of that, they’re often featured
on power suits and you also see them a lot with morning wear, as well as evening wear.
The little point in Italian sometimes called punta which means point. Apart from that,
there’s a lapel style typically reserved for evening wear which is called the shawl collar
which combines the lapel and the collar in one element. For evening wear, I would always
go with either a shawl collar or peak lapels. For everyday suits, I have notched as well
as peak lapels in my collection and the more casual suits always get a notch lapel. So
you never see me having a tweed suit with peak lapels because it would just be uncharacteristic
of the fabric. Once you’re a little more advanced, you hear
people talk about the gorge. It is G O R G E and it refers to the seam between the collar
and the lapel. Stylistically, its position has varied over the years. If you look at
suits from the 30s, the gorge sits much lower and it’s more dropped at an angle. If you
look at more modern suits or contemporary suits, oftentimes, the gorge is very high
to the point where peak lapels sometimes have the point that is above the shoulder level
which in my opinion, is too high. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong and it depends
on the current fashion, as well as your personal taste. The only way to influence your gorge
is when you have a suit custom-made or bespoke made because it’s not something you can alter,
however, even if you can change it, it really has a huge impact on the overall look. Having
your gorge lower will make your suit look more vintage, making it higher, more contemporary
and a little more aggressive. For my personal taste, most current standard gorges are a
little too high, I prefer them a little lower without going too low because that way, I
get a suit that is very classic and timeless. Also if you’re shorter, having the gorge raised
a little bit can give the visual appearance of height which might be advantageous. If
you look at jackets from Attolinin in Italy, they’re all very high. Having a higher gorge
in combination with a wider lapel can also give the impression of a bigger chest which
might be advantageous. Which brings us to the next point which is
the lapel width. Again, it has a huge impact on how others perceive your suit even though
it’s the same in terms of comfort. Skinny lapels are typically between two and two and
a half inches or five to six centimeters. Wide lapels are anything
that are above four inches or 10 centimeters. A sweet spot for many is about three and a
half inches or eight to nine centimeters. Just like with other elements of the suit,
the lapel width and tastes have changed over time. Going back in the 30s, you see the low
Gorge with a very wide lapel. By the way, when I talk of lapel width, it’s always measured
at a 90 degree angle, right at the point of the lapel. Just like with anything in classic
men’s clothing, extremes can make you look very dated very quickly versus a moderate
lapel width will always send a test of time, it will never stand out as being too fashionable
or too old-fashioned. In recent years, slim lapels have become a lot more popular in combination
with a higher Gorge, at the same time, if you go to Pitti Uomo in Florence, you see
a lot of wider lapels; it’s kind of an anti-movement to the mass-market slim lapel suit jacket.
After all, having very wide lapels is a very clear statement that you have something that
is custom-made for you. While some people prefer to have a constant lapel width in their
wardrobe especially if they do custom suits, personally, I’m a big fan of having slightly
different lapels that are neither too extreme so they all fit within a certain roster. For
me, that is anything between 7 centimeters, just under 3 inches and about 4 and a half
inches which is about 11 centimeters. The general rule of thumb, three and a half inch
width lapels paired with a three and a half inch wide necktie works very well for 90%
of men out there. If you want to deviate from that gold
standard, keep in mind that getting wider lapels will help make your chest look more
impressive but at the same time, it will visually slim down your shoulders. At the same time,
a narrow lapel can make your chest look slimmer and your shoulders broader. If you’re a short
man or a very slim man, I suggest to go with slightly slimmer lapels because it will look
more proportional on you, on the other hand, big and tall men will look better with slightly
wider lapels because everything looks harmonious that way. If you’re a big man and wear a suit
jacket where there are slim lapels, it makes it look just as goofy as the little short
five foot three guy with four and a half inch lapels. Another aspect of the lapel is a so-called
lapel belly. Basically, what it describes is the rounding of the lapel or the lack thereof.
If you look at German suits or British suits, oftentimes, lapels are cut pretty straight.
In the 30s sometimes, they had an extreme rounding to the cloth which you could see
if you take a closer look. In terms of tailoring, there are two schools of thought. Some tailors
really dress the fabric heavily with their iron so stripes on the fabric curve along
the edge of the lapel. Personally, I find it to look much more pleasing to the eye.
In Italy oftentimes, if you look at striped suits with a belly, the stripes simply are
cut off which is a stylistic choice but just the one that I would personally make. Having
a more convex curve on your lapel belly can make it look a little more casual, having
it straight can be a little more formal. The belly curve is usually most visible on a three
roll two jacket which means you have a three button jacket that is only buttoned on the
middle one and therefore, you get a belly roll or you can also really see it in double-breasted
jackets. Personally, I like to have a slight belly and if there’s stripes or a pattern,
I want them to really follow along that edge. Apart from the lapel belly, something that’s
really desirable in suit jackets is a so-called lapel roll. What I mean by that is the area
just above the closing buttons and how they roll. If you have a cheaper suit jacket, typically,
they are ironed very flat which makes a suit look very flat and not very three-dimensional.
On the other hand, if you have a sewn canvas, you automatically always get a certain amount
of roll. You could always enhance the roll by ironing on the inside of the lapel and
to learn more about ironing a suit jacket and a detailed step by step, please check
out this ironing video here. By the way, if you want to learn the differences between
suit canvasses and constructions, please check out this video guide here. A good lapel roll
with a decent amount of hollow area that curves really nicely is typically associated with
higher-end handmade garments that have a floating canvas. Personally, I love the lapel roll
and I cannot get enough of it so I wanted it in all of my jackets. Honestly, I’ve never
seen a bespoke suit with flat pressed lapels. Honestly, that’s a hallmark of a hundred dollar
suit that’s just coming back from a cheap dry cleaner. Next, let’s talk about suit buttons and specifically
the buttoning point and the buttoning stance. Typically, the suit lapels roll ends where
you button the jacket. In certain cases, that is not the case such as in a three roll two
jacket or sometimes with single button jackets. Also, the number of buttons you have in your
jacket will impact the size and the shape of the lapel. If you have a four button jacket,
the lapel will be quite small even if you decide to go with a very wide lapel because
there’s simply not much distance that can cover it. On the other hand, if you have a
jacket with a single button, the lapel will look larger even though it may not be as wide
on top. As a golden rule of thumb, the buttoning point should always be along your natural
waist. It could be about an inch up or an inch down but typically, for most men, that’s
a sweet spot. Now that being said, moving the buttoning point slightly up more or slightly
down below can help balance your body. For example, I have a very long torso and relatively
short legs; because of that, I like buttoning points that are slightly above my natural
waist thus balancing my upper body and my legs. It gives me the appearance of having
longer legs and a shorter torso. The same is true for the opposite, if you have very
long legs and a short torso, move your buttoning point slightly lower. Again, this is something
you can only do in a custom garment because once the buttonholes have been cut in your
jacket, you cannot move the buttoning point. If you’re very tall, having three buttons
is probably better than having two or one button because it makes everything look more
proportional in terms of height and balance. Those who carry more weight might prefer a
lower buttoning point and if you’re not sure about what to choose, there is no right or
wrong answer. Simply be aware of the effect it has on your overall look. For example,
going with 3 buttons rather than two means that you see less of the v shirt front and
the lesser your tie. If that’s a look you like, that’s good. If not, then go with a
lower buttoning point. For evening outfits typically, you want to expose more of the
shirt front and the bowtie and because of that, a tuxedo typically is just a one button
jacket or it can be double-breasted but the buttoning point is always low. To learn more
about dinner jackets, smoking jackets, or black tie and white tie outfits, please check
out our respective guides on the website. Now the button stance refers to the distance
between the buttons. It’s not a detail that many men pay attention to but it can have
a profound impact. Spacing your buttons too closely together just looks weird enough whereas
spacing it too far apart can make it look odd as well. If you’re a larger person, having
them spaced a little more apart is more advantageous because again, it keeps everything in proportion.
When it comes to double-breasted suits, the button stance has an even more profound impact
especially in terms of the distance between the two vertical lines. If you slim it down
just like Prince Charles does it, the jacket looks very very different than if you space
them out. In the 30s sometimes, they had really wide buttoning stances with a huge overlap
that not only kept you warmer but it just created an entirely different look. Again,
avoiding the extremes will help you to have a garment that is rather timeless or if you
know what you’re doing and you want to achieve a slimming effect, reduce the button stance
on your DB coat and if you want a 30s style suit jacket, increase the distance. If you
want to learn more about how to button a suit jacket, what mistakes to avoid, and all the
options you have, I suggest you check out our in-depth guide here. Sometimes you hear
the term kissing buttons and it refers to the buttons on your sleeve and whether they
touch and overlap each other or not. Sometimes people say it’s a quality hallmark but personally,
I’ve seen many excellent bespoke garments that didn’t feature it so it’s really nothing
that cries quality or says good or bad. It’s simply
a personal preference. In terms of distanmce, you can find anything from overlapping buttons
or buttons that are spaced very far apart where there is even enough space to put another
button in there if you choose to do so. Surgeon’s cuffs are functional sleeve buttonholes which
used to be a hallmark of a custom or bespoke made garment but today, even H&M has them
in their lineup so they’ve lost some of their luster. A hand made suit will likely always
have handmade buttonholes that you can button. The suit from H&M will have machine-made buttonholes
and you can still distinguish it that way but just the fact that you can undo your sleeve
cuff buttons is not a quality hallmark anymore. In general, quality buttonholes are always
cut first and then sewn. Usually, there is always a gimp added which is something like
a thicker stiffer thread that the buttonhole is sewn around, it gives the buttonhole a
raised effect which is particularly noticeable in what is called as the Milanese buttonhole.
It’s called that way because tailors in Milan would use that feature to differentiate their
buttonholes. Today, it’s something you could find in any kind of bespoke garment from Australia
or South Korea to the US. It’s also very delicate so typically you only see it sewn on the lapel
buttonholes not on the actual working buttonholes on the rest of your suit jacket. To this day,
fine handmade buttonholes are a hallmark of quality suits and oftentimes, you can see
they’re handmade on the back side of the buttonhole because there’s irregular stitching. Sometimes
you can also sew them both ways so they look neat in both ways but that’s really hard to
find and it’s just a nice thing to see a handmade buttonhole because it can’t be quite replicated
by machines just yet, even though there are excellent buttonhole machines out there these
days and sometimes it’s very hard to discern from the front side if something is handmade
or not if the machine used was excellent. If we’re talking about less expensive suits
that are made in Far Eastern Asia chances are those buttonholes look very cheap and
it’s very easy to discern if it’s a quality suit or not just by looking at the buttonhole. That’s it with part 1 stay tuned for part
2 and in the meantime if you want to learn more about suits how it should fit all the
details and what you can do with them please check out our other suit videos I’m certain
you will enjoy them. in today’s video I’m wearing a three-piece
suit that was custom made for me it has medium wide lapels it is a one-button jacket because
of that the lapels didn’t need to be that wide it’s a three-piece suit with a
matching vest which is double-breasted and because of that I wore a jacket usually unbuttoned
I’m combining it with a white dress shirt with French cuffs and cufflinks in silver
and lapis lazuli from Fort Belvedere they work well with a Fort Belvedere necktie which
is made of an English madder silk the pocket square is a white linen pocket square it’s
very formal and goes well with the suit fabric which has a slight orange stripe which is
picked up in the socks which are shadow stripe from Fort Belvedere in orange and charcoal
they provide enough contrast with the shoes and pick it up so it’s a harmonious outfit
I opted for single monk straps with a wing tip from Crockett & Jones on the lapel I have
a Milanese buttonhole which is hard to see though because I’m wearing a boutonniere from
Fort Belvedere on my ring I’m having a lapis ring in sterling silver which matches the
cufflinks all of the Fort Belvedere accessories can be found in our shop and if you enjoy
our videos and want to support our content efforts the best way to do so is to buy something
from the shop

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