A suit, lounge suit, or business suit is a set of clothes comprising a suit jacket and trousers of identical textiles worn with a collared dress shirt, necktie, and dress shoes. A skirt suit is similar, but with a matching skirt instead of trousers. It is considered informal wear in Western dress codes. The lounge suit originated in 19th-century Britain as a more casual alternative for sportswear and British country clothing, with roots in early modern Western Europe. After replacing the black frock coat in the early 20th century as regular daywear, a sober one-colored suit became known as a lounge suit.
Suits are offered in different designs and constructions. Cut and cloth, whether two- or three-piece, single- or double-breasted, vary, in addition to various accessories. A two-piece suit has a jacket and trousers; a three-piece suit adds a waistcoat. Hats were almost always worn outdoors (and sometimes indoors) with all men's clothes until the counterculture of the 1960s in Western culture. Informal suits have been traditionally worn with a fedora, a trilby, or a flat cap. Other accessories include handkerchief, suspenders or belt, watch, and jewelry.
Originally, suits were always tailor-made from the client's selected cloth. These are now known as bespoke suits, custom-made to measurements, taste, and style preferences. Since the 1960s, most suits are mass-produced ready-to-wear garments. Currently, suits are offered in roughly four ways:
The word suit derives from the French suite, meaning "following," from some Late Latin derivative form of the Latin verb sequor = "I follow," because the component garments (jacket and trousers and waistcoat) follow each other and have the same cloth and colour and are worn together.
As a suit (in this sense) covers all or most of the wearer's body, the term "suit" was extended to a single garment that covers all or most of the body, such as boilersuits, diving suits, and spacesuits (see Suit (disambiguation)).
The suit's origins trace the simplified, sartorial standard established by the English king Charles II in the 17th century, following the example of his one-time host King Louis XIV's court at Versailles, who decreed that in the English Court men would wear a long coat, a waistcoat (then called a "petticoat"), a cravat (a precursor of the necktie), a wig, knee breeches (trousers), and a hat. The paintings of Jan Steen, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and other painters of the Dutch Golden Era reveal that such an arrangement was already used in Holland, if not Western Europe as a whole.
The current styles, founded in the Great Male Renunciation of the late 18th century, sharply changed the elaborately embroidered and jewelled formal clothing into the simpler clothing of the British Regency period, which gradually evolved to the stark formality of the Victorian era. In the late 19th century, it was in the search for more comfort that the loosening of rules gave rise to the modern lounge suit.
Brooks Brothers is generally credited with first offering the "ready-to-wear" suit, a suit that was sold already manufactured and sized, ready to be tailored, while Haggar Clothing first introduced the concept of suit separates in the U.S., which are widely found in the marketplace today.
The silhouette of a suit is its outline. Tailored balance created from a canvas fitting allows a balanced silhouette so a jacket need not be buttoned and a garment is not too tight or too loose. A proper garment is shaped from the neck to the chest and shoulders to drape without wrinkles from tension. Shape is the essential part of tailoring that often takes hand work from the start. The two main cuts are double-breasted suits, a conservative design with two columns of buttons, spanned by a large overlap of the left and right sides; and single-breasted suits, in which the sides overlap very slightly, with a single column of buttons.
Good tailoring anywhere in the world is characterised by strongly tapered sides and minimal shoulder, whereas rack suits are often padded to reduce labour. More casual suits are characterised by less construction and tailoring, much like the sack suit, a loose American style.
The main four colours for suits worn in business are black, light grey, dark grey, and navy, either with or without patterns. In particular, grey flannel suiting has been worn very widely since the 1930s. In non-business settings or less-formal business contexts, brown is another important colour; olive also occurs. In summer, lighter shades such as tan or cream are popular.
For non-business use, tweed has been popular since Victorian times and still is commonly worn. A wide range of colour is available, including muted shades of green, brown, red, and grey. Tweeds are usually checked, or plain with a herringbone weave, and are most associated with the country. While full tweed suits are not worn by many now, the jackets are often worn as sports jackets with odd trousers (trousers of different cloth).
The most conventional suit has two or three buttons and is either medium-to-dark grey or navy. Other conservative colours are grey, black, and olive. White and light blues are acceptable at some events, especially in the warm season. Red and the brighter greens are usually considered "unconventional" and "garish". Tradition calls for a gentleman's suit to be of decidedly plain colour, with splashes of bright colour reserved for shirts, neckties or kerchiefs.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, around the start of the 20th century, lounge suits were never traditionally worn in plain black, this colour instead being reserved for formal wear (including dinner jackets or strollers) and for undertakers. However, the decline of formal wear since the 1950s and the rise of casual wear in 1960s allowed the black suit to return to fashion, as many designers began wanting to move away from the business suit toward more fashion suits.
Traditional business suits are generally in solid colours or with pinstripes; windowpane checks are also acceptable. Outside business, the range of acceptable patterns widens, with plaids such as the traditional glen plaid and herringbone, though apart from some very traditional environments such as London banking, these are worn for business now too. The colour of the patterned element (stripes, plaids, and checks) varies by gender and location. For example, bold checks, particularly with tweeds, have fallen out of use in the US, while they continue to be worn as traditional in Britain. Some unusual old patterns such as diamonds are now rare everywhere.
Inside the jacket of a suit, between the outer fabric and the inner lining, there is a layer of sturdy interfacing fabric to prevent the wool from stretching out of shape; this layer of cloth is called the canvas after the fabric from which it was traditionally made. Expensive jackets have a floating canvas, while cheaply manufactured models have a fused (glued) canvas. A fused canvas is less soft and, if poorly done, damages the suppleness and durability of the jacket, so many tailors are quick to deride fused canvas as being less durable, particularly since they may tend to permanently pucker along the jacket's edges after some use or a few dry cleanings. However, some selling this type of jacket claim that the difference in quality is very small. A few London tailors state that all bespoke suits should use a floating canvas.
Most single-breasted suits have two or three buttons, and four or more buttons are unusual. Dinner jackets ("black tie") usually have only one button. It is rare to find a suit with more than four buttons, although zoot suits can have as many as six or more due to their longer length. There is also variation in the placement and style of buttons, since the button placement is critical to the overall impression of height conveyed by the jacket. The centre or top button will typically line up quite closely with the natural waistline. The bottom button is usually not meant to be buttoned and so the jacket is cut such that buttoning the bottom button would ruin the lines and drape of the jacket. It is customary to keep the jacket buttoned while standing and to unbutton the jacket while seated.
The jacket's lapels can be notched (also called "stepped"), peaked ("pointed"), shawl, or "trick" (Mandarin and other unconventional styles). Each lapel style carries different connotations and is worn with different cuts of suit. Notched lapels, the most common of the three, are usually only found on single-breasted jackets and are the most informal style. They are distinguished by a 75-to-90 degree "notch" at the point where the lapel meets the collar. Peaked lapels have sharp edges that point upward towards the shoulders. Double-breasted jackets usually have peaked lapels, although peaked lapels are sometimes found on single breasted jackets as well. Shawl lapels are a style derived from the Victorian informal evening wear, and as such are not normally seen on suit jackets except for tuxedos or dinner suits. For black tie events, only jackets with pointed and shawl lapels should be worn.
In the late 1920s and 1930s, a design considered very stylish was the single-breasted peaked-lapel jacket. This has gone in and out of vogue periodically, being popular once again during the 1970s, and is still a recognised alternative. The ability to properly cut peaked lapels on a single-breasted suit is one of the most challenging tailoring tasks, even for very experienced tailors.
Lapels also have a buttonhole, intended to hold a boutonnière, a decorative flower. These are now only commonly seen at more formal events. Usually, double-breasted suits have one hole on each lapel (with a flower just on the left), while single-breasted suits have just one on the left. 041b061a72