What Are the Different Styles of Men's Suits?

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Dave Barry a humor columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner once said. "I do not mean to suggest for a moment, that all it takes to be a top executive is a custom tailored European suit. You also need the correct shirt and tie." While he is correct in the fact that the suit does not make the man, it most certainly can help. Unfortunately, shopping for a suit can be quite a daunting task for someone who has no clue where to begin. There is a world of refinement and distinction that comes with an amazing suit.

Function

A suit can do so much more than it is given credit for. Whether worn to a formal dinner, to the office, for a special occasion or to church, a handsome suit provides a stand-out appearance from the other men around. While some scoff and poke fun at the seemingly over statement that a suit gives, gentlemen know that a suit, specifically a well-worn and stylish suit, conjures respectability, builds self esteem and conveys reliability and intelligence.

Types

There are four different styles of men's suits commonly available. First, there is the American style, a more casual look that adds a youthful appearance. Typically, American suits are made out of cotton, a strong yet comfortable fabric. Secondly, there is the European, or British, style. These suits are usually single-breasted and provide a rich, empowered look. The third style of men's suit is called Mandarin, and as one could guess, this style reflects the true depth of oriental culture. Finally, possibly the most widely known suit style available is the infamous Italian suit. These suits are double breasted and suit taller gentlemen.

Material

The types of fabrics used to create these distinguished outfits can provide more guidance on selecting a suit. Most suits are made from wool, which is wrinkle-resistant, durable and comfortable. From wool, suit designers can choose merino, cashmere or angora fabric to design a stylish suit. Vacationers and businessmen look to linen suits for their lightweight material that makes the humid heat from tropical countries more tolerable. Unfortunately, linen creases easily and requires extra care when traveling. Other materials are tweed and polyester, though these fabrics are not as common as wool and cotton suits.

Considerations

Men are different shapes and sizes and not every suit will look right on every person. Tall men should avoid vertical stripes, as they appear to lengthen the height, which is unnecessary. Instead, tall men should opt for suits that feature horizontal striping or window-pane patterns with one or two buttons, preferably one. The more buttons, the longer the suit jacket appears on the body. For shorter men, avoid cuffed pants, long jackets and loud patterns. Instead, look for different styles of men’s suits with vertical striping with two or three buttons to add length. Choose dark, solid colors, leaving the top button undone, and avoid large knots on ties, sticking with smaller ones to avoid looking childlike. For men who are thin, avoid clingy fabrics, choosing instead slightly fitted shirts and straight-legged trousers without tapering. For stocky men, avoid bold colors completely, sticking with dark solids or pinstripes. Stay away from bulky fabrics, like tweed, and wear suits that feature peaked lapels and shirts with pointed colors. These angular cuts draw the eye up and away from a man's girth.

Double- or Single-Breasted?

Another question that bothers men when looking for different styles of men's suits is the difference between single- or double-breasted jackets. The double-breasted coat was popular during the 1930s and again in the 1980s, but has since lost its popularity. The double-breasted suit features wide, overlapping front panels with two parallel rows of buttons, only one side of which is functional. The other buttons can be functional if the designer chooses so, but are usually for added decoration. The single-breasted jacket has narrow, overlapping flaps with only one column of functional buttons or snaps. In the end, however, it boils down to personal preference and really, just what looks good and is appropriate for the occasion.

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