Joe Cool; Suit School

While the world may appear to descend further into political and financial chaos, a good suit may be only thing you can rely on. Although season to season the weight of fabric and design detailing will change, a classically designed & cut suit could, with sympathetic wear, last far longer than whoever is supposed to be running the country being in power. So whether it’s a classic suit for work, occasion wear, or just a new twist for the spring/summer 2011 trends, this is the quick suiting guide for you.

“There are only two types of man. Men in a good suit, and all the others..”

As Yves Saint Laurent once said “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” The attributes for a timeless suit are like fine art. They are, in reality, open to interpretation. Some gentlemen stick to a classic cut, which, like Dame Helen Mirren will age fabulously. Some men like purchasing a new suit every season, staying with and sometimes ahead of the trend. Others enjoy sourcing a vintage suit, giving it a reworking at the tailors and making it more contemporary. In truth, it’s up to you. By examining the details of what to look out for, you can begin to put together the look that’s right for you.

“The suit maketh the man.”

There is something built into the fibres of a good suit, that makes a man feel good about himself. It makes a man feel confident, and allows him to portray the perfect image of himself. It infiltrates his very being, through his body and soul, enriching his mind with thoughts of grandeur. His posture and attitude change. The suit becomes a veritable suit of armour, a man’s raison d’être. In short, a good suit changes not just the way you look, but perhaps more importantly, the way you feel.

“Details, Details. It’s all in the Details.”


Suiting available worldwide will come under one of three categories. A three button suit is very much a trend outside of the European continent, and is commonplace in the United States. It tends to accompany wide and long jackets and baggy trousers of the box-fit American suiting. Two button suits are the most traditional and readily available style of formalwear on the European continent, favoured by Italian and English tailoring offering a timeless and classic look. One button suits offer a more contemporary twist to a classic looking suit, whilst accentuating body shape with a unique point at which the sides of the jacket meet, and height with more distance from the button to the foot of the jacket.



Wool is a great base fabric for suiting due to its warmth and versatility. Mohair is the material of choice to reduce creasing, and increase how hardwearing the fabric will be. And as such is ideal for businessmen who travel. Polyester is an affordable fabric that will lessen the weight of the composite fabric, helping to make it more lightweight whilst also adding sheen for a crisp finish. Polyamide is often included to reduce creasing and ensuring that any bobbling of wool is reduced. Cotton is popular in summer suiting as it is lightweight, versatile, and breathes well. And silk is often blended to add sheen, softness and a more luxurious feel.


There are two main types of lapel (peak & notch lapel) which you will see regularly on the high street, with an additional 2 that are often used in high fashion tailoring or event wear due to their distinctive aesthetics. (High gorge & Shawl lapel). Choice really comes to what you personally desire.



The two styles of the lining commonly used in tailoring are a half lined and fully jacket. A half lined jacket is more lightweight than a fully lined jacket, and as a result is a favourite for summer suiting. A half lined jacket is also a sign of quality, as the workmanship involved in the attachment of a half lined jacket to the jacket shell is more than a fully lined jacket.



Vents on modern suiting range from no vents, through a single vented jacket to a double vented jacket. A lack of venting gives a great shape to suiting, but is not overly practical as it limits the range of movement, and can inhibit access to trouser pockets. A single vented jacket is favourable to a slimmer gentleman, and gives a classic and timeless look, together with a more considerable range of movement. The twin vented jacket is a signature of Saville Row, and allows the pockets to be accessed more easily, a more comprehensive range of movement, and is much better for a gentleman with a larger seat.

Cut & Fit

The cut of a suit can make or break the way which it makes you feel, and the way it showcases your body form. An off the peg suit can be altered in almost all conceivable ways including getting the jacket taken in at the side and back seams, altering sleeve length, jacket length and taking in the trousers up, and taken in at waistband, sides and seat. Bespoke suits offer a very competitive alternative to getting a suit made from scratch. For a truly perfect fit however, getting a suit made to measure provides the best in options and fit.



A good shirt and tie, pocket square or handkerchief, tie pin, bag and shoes all lead to a man embodying his inner formal superhero. The right ensemble is essential to giving the right impression be it at a business meeting, a wedding or a job interview. If you look like success and confidence, then that’s exactly what people will think.


Spring/Summer 2011 trends

This season’s trends tend to be a combination of composite elements from prominently smart eras. Think 1930’s meets Mad Men. The result: Notch or peak lapelled slim fitting suits with a masculine twist.


The trend for formal wear is repeated across the price ranges. These are my favourite four suits from what I regard as the four levels for suiting by price point. Prices are a guide, as there will as always be exceptions.

1. Highstreet (£100 -£300)

This M&S suit is a two button, notch lapelled & fully lined suit made from a mix of wool, polyester & polyamide. It is double vented in a charcoal grey. It is great option for a first suit, as it offers a contemporary fitted cut, with panelling through the middle, to give you a strong silhouette with classic elements which will hold their style. £199

2. Premium Highstreet (£300 – £500)


Reiss cater for the premium highstreet with their off the peg formalwear, and the designer customer with their tailored service. This example is a one button, peak lapelled half lined suit made from a mix of wool and mohair. It is double vented in a luxurious royal blue. It makes for a great high quality suit at an accessible price, offering on trend tailoring with masculine shoulders, with a slim fitting jacket and trousers and fitted panels through the body, accentuating the masculine form. £450

3. Designer (£500 – £800)


Hugo Boss offers a range which caters through both the higher end of the premium highstreet range and ends up at the lower end of the suit-maker’s price range. This example of suiting sees a 2 button notch lapel suit made from a mix of cotton, wool and silk in royal blue. This is a great option for summer and right on trend with a cotton, wool & silk blend which will be lightweight, soft with a slight sheen. £779

4. Suit-maker (£800 +)


Gieves and Hawkes, situated on Saville Row in London (the home of English tailoring) dress the royal family and are well renowned, for their tailoring services. This example shows a single breasted one button suit with twin vents, half lined, in a mix of wool and mohair with sloping shoulders, (a Saville Row mainstay) in a light summer grey. £1250

And there it is – An introduction to suiting. Hopefully that will give you a good foundation to work with for your formalwear. Try all suits with a range of shirts and ties to get the best combinations. Experimentation is the key!

If you liked this, you will love our 2012 Mens Winter Boot Guide!