There are three main categories to focus on when deciding on suit cuts: American, British and European (a.k.a Italian). All have their pros and cons. Knowing the differences isn’t about deciding which one is better, it is more about choice. Variety is something that should always be preached with suits. So, here is a lesson on suit cuts. From one end of the world to another, there are some real gems in all cultures.
American Cut Suits
Formal in its style yet classic enough to be recognizable from the other cuts, an American suit has roots that goes as far back as the 19th century. A lot of changes have taken place since then, most notably how it has expanded from its Ivy League adopters. Some of the pioneers of American suits include the Brooks Brothers, responsible for making public adoption of the suit viable. The reinvention of the American suit included improvements like natural shoulders, classic flap straight pockets, and better single breasted options. Present day American cuts now include shoulder padding, and are made to be loose fitting and not tight. The most uniform body line can be had with an American cut, making one suit a universal wear for multiple people. The takeaway is that there is a smaller market for more expensive American cuts.
British Cut Suits
The most traditional suit cut available is British, and it makes a point at not being too fancy. That lack of flair is part of its charm, and a main reason to consider it. With the extra space around the waist it is also more comfortable than any other suit. That comfort will go a long way in the workday, and puts it on par with American suits for longevity. If ever in doubt about what cut to wear for work, it will always come down to American or British. In the 19th century gentleman suits took off like never before, and the boom to the industry was more of a worldwide shock. The best variety of fabric comes from British suits, and will offer some of the harder to find choices in the same colors.
European Cut Suits
Also knows as Italian or extra-slim fit suits. This covers a wide range of cuts, but mostly concentrates on the ultra-popular Italian cut suit. These are the cream of the crop and the most expensive for a reason. A European suit not only signals professionalism, but exudes confidence. This cut trends more than any of the others, and is the preferred way to say “I’ve arrived”. Innovators in this area would be Nazareno Fonticoli, Armani and Ermenegildo Zegna. Whenever there is a change in the industry it is always sparked by a European movement. All of the European cuts are made to fit, so there is a trade-off with comfort. Wearers will be slightly less comfortable in a European suit and as a result will max out styling points. The tightly fitted suit also uses lighter fabric, which is less durable but looks better when fitted.
If no suits have ever been purchased before, jumping into a European suit is like buying a Ferrari. It is a bit too much too soon for most people, and should be eased into. British or American is the way to go for beginners, with American being the more affordable choice. Although young people choose to stick with the Italian suits quite too often. With price not being an option, British cut suits are a great starting point. They’re comfortable and still maintain a professional look no matter which fabric is used. With access to the most fabrics, there is also more variety when matching pairs up. American suit cuts still shouldn’t be looked at as a cheap option, even if it is third best. With more availability per store, they tend to be the go to option for anyone in a pinch. It also helps that a good percentage of the sales come from high school prom students!
For Intermediate Wearers
Wearers that already have a couple of suits in the closet can creep into European cuts. The fun thing about being an intermediate suit wearer is that it offers the best of both worlds. Now it isn’t so much about price and is more about being creative with styles. At this point in the lifecycle there are probably only two major American suit cuts that should be considered. Everything else is going to be in the British or European cut, with preference going to what users feel more comfortable in. Since European suits offer better comfort without compromising style like American suits, then this should become a consideration when buying. When the time comes to settle on the first European cut, it will turn into an entirely different world.
It’s All About The Person In The Suit
Opinions aside, suits are supposed to bring out the best in the individual. That can’t happen if there isn’t any knowledge of the actual clothing. Knowing what’s being worn is just as important as the brand being bought. This applies to American, British and even European cuts. They all have their pros and cons, yet they’re all (literally) made from the same cloth. If loose fitting suits work better for a person, then that’s what they should wear! The world of suit cuts can be fun, but the history should only be used as a guide. Knowledge is power in any pursuit, and fashion requires a little bit of digging. So take a pick and enjoy it, no matter what suit cut is chosen.