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Men's Black Suit - Differences in British Cut and American Cut

To know the difference one need to examine the cut of a mens black suit. In the British American tradition, there are only two silhouettes that have historically been cut into black red suit patterns.

Mens Black Suit: The American Cut

  • The American cut is a 3 button, natural shoulder jacket, with a notched lapel, and a welt upper pocket and flap pockets below.
  • The jacket is vented in the center back.
  • Thetop button is not buttoned, but is actually on a part of the lapel which is rolled, so that the jacket fastens at the middle button only, as the bottom button is left open.
  • The top buttonhole is finished on both sides, and is intended to be seen.
  • The shoulders of this silhouette are soft and gently sloping.
  • The stance of the fastened button is higher than the waist, and the jacket itself is not darted inward to the waist, so that the entire look is one of comfort, but rather square in shape.
  • Though this pattern does not follow the body's shape, it is easy fitting, with wider armholes.
  • In its most traditional form, this silhouette has a "sack" shape, almost boxlike. It is usually paired with straight front trousers with cuffs, and the trousers do not break on the shoe.

Mens Black Suit: The British Cut

  • The British cut is a 2 button, natural shoulder jacket, with a notched lapel, and a welt upper pocket, with flap pockets below.
  • The top button is buttoned, and the lower button is left unbuttoned.
  • The stance of the fastened button is to the waist, for a longer, more graceful look than the American sack jacket.
  • Several other aspects of the silhouette accentuate this longer look: first, the jacket is slightly tapered at the waist by darting. Secondly, the shoulders, while soft, are a bit more shaped than the American model.
  • The armholes are higher to the arm, and there are two side vents in the back. All of these elements conspire to give the appearance that the jacket conforms to the lines of the body, though not rigidly.
  • In fact, typical of English jackets is the "blade" which is the fold beside the shoulder attachment on the back of the jacket, which provides the extra fabric for ease of movement.
  • The British jacket is typically paired with pleated trousers, slightly tapered, whose cuffs break to cover about 2/3 of the shoe.

There is also another British style widely admired in America - the men's double-breasted black suit, gently tapered, with a firm but natural shoulder, and side rear vents. This style buttons one, second from the bottom button, out of six front buttons. Keep in mind that a double-breasted jacket is always buttoned!

Some FAQ's about Men's Suit Fashion

  • Is the men's 4 button suit in style any longer?
    Four button suits are not seen much these days and certainly aren't a suit one would buy their first or second suit. It is more of a fashion suit, not a classic style. Also keep in mind that four button suits really look best on those that are tall and slim.
  • Are suit vests a thing of the past?
    Suit vests are for dandies, but also seen in English, western, and evening looks. Not really seeing suit vests otherwise.
  • Are suits with no vents in the back a dated look?
    Vents are definitely more European and shapelier. They are also a symbol of better tailoring.
  • Are pleats on trousers a bad idea?
    First thing is that flat fronted trousers are always more flattering no matter what your size and age. Pleats bring attention to that area of the body.