There are many possible variations in the choice of the style, the garments and the details of a suit. U.S. President J.F. Kennedy in a two piece single breasted suit, can you picture it?
The silhouette of a suit is its out line. No suit is skin tight; the amount of extra fabric and the way it hangs is known as the drape. Double breasted suits have two parallel rows of buttons, which is considered very conservative; a single row of buttons is called single breasted. British suits are characterized by moderately tapered sides, minimal shoulder padding, and two vents.
Italian suits are characterized by strongly padded shoulders, strongly tapered sides, and no vent. American suits are considered to be more casual than the preceding styles, and are characterized by moderate shoulder padding, minimally tapered sides, and a single vent. The sack suit is a loose American style. Contemporary is a term that includes a variety of recently designed garments that do not fit into the preceding categories.
The suit is cut out from a length of fabric from a roll by a cutter using a cutting pattern, a paper out line of the parts. The pattern can be drought in various ways. With a ready to wear suits, the same pattern is used many times to make identical suits. Made to measure and bespoke cutters can work by pattern manipulation, altering a stock pattern, or by using a drafting formula to calculate adjusted lengths. Some bespoke tailors work by Rock Of Eye, drawing and cutting by eye.
Suits are made in a variety of fabrics, but most commonly from wool. The two main yarns produce worsteds, where the fibers are combed before spinning, and woolens, where they are not. These can be woven in a number of ways producing flannel, tweed, gabardine, and fresco among others. These fabrics all have different weights and feel, and some fabrics have a super number describing the fineness of the fibers. For hot weather, linen is also used, and in North America cotton seer sucker is worn. Other materials are used some times, such as cashmere. Silk and silk blended with wool are some times used. Synthetic materials, while cheap, are very rarely recommended by experts.
The main three colors for suits work in business are light gray, dark gray, and navy, either with or without patterns. In particular, gray flannel suiting has been worn very widely since the 1930s. In non-business settings or less formal business contexts, brown is another important color; 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 color is available, including greens, browns, reds, and grays. 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.
In the United States and the United Kingdom, suits were never traditionally made in plain black, this color instead being reserved for formal wear, including dinner jackets or strollers. However, the decline of formal wear in recent years has meant that black, as well as being popular in fashionable scenes, such as clubbing, is now also being worn in formal contexts such as to a funeral or religious function in place of the traditional more formal wear.
A man wearing a pin striped pattern suit. Traditional business suits are generally in solid colors or with pin stripes, window pane checks are also acceptable. Outside business, the range of acceptable patterns widens, with plaids such as the traditional Glen plaid, though apart from some very traditional environments such as London banking, these are worn for business now too. The color of the patterned element varies by gender and location, with the English for example traditionally allowing themselves very bold checks, particularly with tweeds, and some times even unusual patterns such as diamonds.
Inside the jacket of a suit, between the outer fabric and the inner lining, there is a layer of fabric that has the purpose of letting the coat keep its shape. This layer of cloth is called the canvas. Expensive jackets have a floating canvas, while cheaply manufactured models have a fused canvas. A fused canvas is less soft and, if poorly done, damages the suppleness and durability of the jacket, and many tailors are quick to deride this construction as being less durable, though some selling this type of jacket claim that the difference in quality is very small. All bespoke suits use a floating canvas.