The Most Common Suit Cuts Explained

Categories Fashion


The three most common cuts of suit and their ‘suit’ability for you.

Unless you work in one of the creative professions you will need to own at least one suit. You have to define your style here. There’s a lot of crossover and “borrowings” these days, but there are still three main types of cut: American/German, European and English. You may not be familiar with the intricacies of each, but when you go shopping for a suit the cut determines whether you will love it or hate it. The main reason suit looks good on the rack and awful on your back is your body type.

Body type bans
• If hunky or heavy-set are the most common descriptions for your physique, stay away from double-vented jackets (they will broaden your backside) and always choose clothes that fit. In Seinfeld the stylists always dressed George Costanza in clothes that were one size too small to make him look more of a dork.
• Tall, thin men should never wear vertical stripes or clothes that are too fitted. A light coloured suit will also help to make you look more substantial.
• Short men should take a tip from French President Nicolas Sarkozy and wear shoes with heels. Solid colours also divert attention from a lack of height.

With bigger shoulders and a broader cut across the chest, this style originated thanks to evolution. Within a generation the children of European migrants to the US became taller and bigger because of an increased food supply. The same happened in Australia, which is why this style is very popular here, too. The best choices are a single-breasted jacket and flat-front trousers.


This category basically means French and Italian suits, which usually have a close fit, sharp shoulders, a shorter length and tighter, high armholes. They are not a good choice for broad-chested or very thin men, although Giorgio Armani is a brand apart and even heavyset rugby players look sophisticated in his sharp threads. Men with average builds look best in European-style suits.


Because British tailoring traces its heritage to the military, the traditional Savile Row suit and its cheaper spin-offs have a nipped waist, longer jacket with slightly shorter sleeves and softer shoulders. The English cut is a great choice for anyone with an average or athletic build because it closely follows the line of the body and emphasises the chest. If you are tall, an English-style suit balances your proportions nicely.