Steer your tailor in the right direction by being across these 10 details on your custom formalwear.
This is the most obvious choice you’ve got to make — navy and charcoal are reliable all-rounders, black works with ultra-formal occasions and traditional business wear, while lighter shades of blue and grey or any other colours begin to wander into casual territory.
Single-breasted suits are the classic, whereas double-breasted jackets — featuring two rows of waist buttons and a peak lapel — are saved for formal dos, as well as vintage business suits.
Shape of shoulders
The suit jacket is meant to sculpt a flattering V-shape using your torso, so the shoulders are pivotal. You want the fabric to hug the shoulders, so go smaller if in doubt — and sloped or narrow shoulders might need some assistance in the form of padding to broaden the upper body.
Type of silhouette
The cut of the jacket also constructs that V — the sack silhouette is as unappealing as it sounds, structured (with a trim waist and square padded shoulders) is a more formal shape, while the fitted silhouette is the contemporary option, tapering down around the waist to create that illusion of wider shoulders.
Style of lapel
A shawl lapel (continuous curve) is exclusively reserved for black and white tie soirees, and peak lapels — with edges pointing towards the shoulders — add some flair to jackets, but the notch lapel — where the lapel and the collar meet at a 90-degree angle — is a safe, classic all-rounder. Width also needs to reflect your dimensions. Slim guy? Slim lapels. Big guy? Big lapels.
Type of pockets
You’ll rarely find a patch pocket on a formal suit, while the thin jetted pocket — a slit sewn into the jacket — is much dressier, always found on tuxedos. Flap pockets — angled for a sportier look — work on almost all suits, and you can add a ticket pocket (second pocket sitting above one of the side pockets) for aesthetic reasons, as an indication of quality.
One is typical of a tuxedo, two is a classic all-rounder that suits all body types, and three works only with tall men (but remember to never button the bottom one). The style of button — matte or polished finish; plastic or a natural material; colour — should also co-ordinate with the rest of the outfit, but dark tones are more formal.
Four buttons — identical to the style of the waist buttons, of course — is typical but it’s also okay to pair the number on the sleeve with the number on the waist. In terms of spacing, they should be kissing, rather than stacked on top of each other or spaced too far apart.
A natural liner — luxurious silk or durable cotton, for instance — is a hallmark of quality tailoring, but an unlined or half-lined jacket might be more breathable in the Australian heat. The colour is usually co-ordinated with the suit fabric itself — contrasting hues are only found on more casual jackets.
Style of vent
The two-sided vent not only offers the wearer more movement than the American-style single slit in the middle of the back of the jacket, but it’s more flattering than the boxy alternative. Or if you want to dress sprezzatura, follow the lead of fitted Italian suits with no vent at all.