The Peaked Lapel
The defining quality of the peaked lapel is, as the name suggests, the peak formed by the jacket’s lapel which points upwards towards the shoulder as it meets the collar. These meeting points are known as the lapel step and the collar step. Although there are some variations in the size and width of the peak, this sharp protrusion beyond the line of the lapel is the consistent feature which makes this classic look which is most commonly associated with the double breasted jacket.
The notch lapel is characterised by an indentation in the lapel and the point where the lapel and collar meet. This ‘v’ shape is known as a notch, and is the most common lapel choice for most contemporary suits, being a particularly common choice on the single breasted jacket.
The Shawl lapel is conspicuous by its lack of a peak or a notch. Instead the lapel follows a smooth line wrapping round the collar into the lapel. Traditionally most commonly worn on the Tuxedo jacket, the shawl lapel, with its more minimalist look has more recently become popular on slimmer fitting suit jackets for both business suits and casual blazers.
Originally a staple of the formal jacket, the jetted pocket is not topped with a flap to cover the entrance to the pocket, but instead typically features an understated pocket surround made with lines of fabric. This surround is known as the ‘jet’.
As the name suggests, the flap pocket is characterised by the presence of a flap covering the entrance over the pocket. The flap of the ‘flap pocket’ can vary in size and variations include the addition of a second flapped pocket above the main jacket pocket, known is a ticket pocket for obvious reasons. Traditionally the flap pocket has been worn on casual jackets and coats, but nowadays looks at home on business, casual or formal suits.
The rarer of the different pocket options, the patch pocket was originally a feature of tweed and country wear. The patch pocket can be identified by the formation of the pocket by using a ‘patch’ of suit fabric. This is attached to the external surface of the suit’s jacket, rather than the pocket being embedded into the body of the jacket, such as with the jetted and flap pocket variations.
There are a few options when it comes to buttoning for your suit. Whilst double breasted jackets may require a significantly larger number of buttons, most suit jackets have between one and three. Two buttons is the most common option for modern suits, although one button is also quite common on closer and short cut jackets. The single button look is also the most common for evening jackets, such as the
Tuxedo. For a particularly traditional look, the three button option is worn on both business and casual jackets.
We’ve now covered variations in the lapel and the pocket, but what about the main body of the jacket?
The skirt is the area of material which makes up the bottom edge of the jacket and overlaps the trouser. In more recent years the skirt of the jacket has typically risen a little as suit jackets have evolved to have a closer, slimmer fit. A shorter jacket skirt is recommended for the shorter man, to avoid too much overlap of material and give length to the legs.
Darts are folds in the suit fabric which are sewn into the jacket to control and manipulate its shape and fit. In a well tailored suit, the darts will shape your frame flatteringly, helping to give more body across the chest.
The vent of the jacket is the slit in the material of the jacket at the back of the suit. The two chief varieties are the centre vent which traditionally features more commonly on the three button jacket, and the side vent, more common on the two button variation. These are an important decision for you to make in choosing a bespoke suit, with each vent offering different advantages for each fit and body type. Those who tend to stand with their hands in their pockets for example, will find that a centre vent is pulled apart by the tension on the fabric across the back of the jacket. Ask your tailor for advice to ensure you make the right call. This is one of many ways in which the posture and stance plays a significant role in tailoring.
Whilst there is a third ‘ventless’ option, this is a look which is more common in the Italian tailoring tradition and has a number of practical disadvantages in terms of the behaviour of the fabric, and thus the fit, of the suit in different postures and positions, particularly when seated.
This term can refer to the overall look of the suit and is used to describe the shape and fit of the jacket by the impression it gives in its outline. Most Norton & Townsend cut bespoke suits will have the ‘English’ silhouette which is slightly waisted in order to narrow the silhouette and give the wearer a slimmer look.
THE JACKET ARMS
Getting a good fit for the arms of your jacket is an important and often overlooked factor in getting a great looking suit, so you need to know your terms!
The Scye is a hole in the jacket through which the arm enters the sleeve. The depth will vary depending on your dimensions and this is one of many measurements your tailor will make.
The hindarm seam runs down the back of the arm, with its counterpoint, the forearm seam, running down the front. These points join the fabric of the jacket sleeves and can be adjusted if you opt for a slimmer sleeve look on your suit. This is an increasingly popular choice, with GQ magazine noting recently that they often have an inch of width taken out of the arms of their suit jackets for most photo shoots.
So there you have it, our guide to the basics of the language of bespoke suits. Now whilst this glossary of terms might not be enough to qualify you as a Norton & Townsend tailor just yet, it ought to be enough to fill you in on the options you have when selecting the features and look of your ideal suit. One of the great advantages of a bespoke suit is not just the perfect fit, but also the opportunity to pick the features and qualities of the suit to find exactly your look. So chat through your preferences with your tailor and enjoy the ideal result.