8 Things You Didn't Know About Suits

8 Things You Didn't Know About Suits

The Word 'Suit' Means Following

Ever wondering why suits are called suits? There's a good explanation behind this term, which originates from the French language. The word "suit"  comes from the French word "suite," meaning "following." How exactly does this translate into a three-piece outfit that's become synonymous with modern-day formal wear? Well, each component of a suit -- the jacket, trousers and waistcoat -- follow each other, offering a cohesive appearance in which all of the garments match and flow together. Sure, you can always buy the pieces separately, but chances are some of them will have a different design and/or color than the rest. By purchasing a complete suit, however, you can rest assured knowing that all of the garments match. This is why the word "suit" means following -- because all of the garments match.

Trousers are also Called 'Breeches'

Another name for trousers is "breeches." This term is largely used in the U.K., although some stores and consumers in the U.S. may also use it. But breeches differ from trousers in a few ways, one of which is the length. Breeches are typically shorter than their trouser counterparts, extending just slightly past the knees. They also feature a fastening mechanism around the top of the calf.

There are Three Ways to Make a Suit

Well, technically there are dozens if not hundreds of ways to make a suit. However, most of these methods fall under one of three main categories:
  1. Ready to wear -- also known as off-the-rack, ready to wear suits are made using precut shapes.  They are typically the cheapest solution, but this shows in the form of increased wrinkles and distorted shapes which generally form over time.
  2. Made to measure -- as the name suggests, these suits are made according to the customer's specified measurements. The vendor takes a suit, and using the customer's measurements, alters it for a better fit.
  3. Bespoke -- if you want a suit that fits perfectly, there's no substitution for bespoke. Bespoke suits are made from scratch using the customer's measurements. This differs from made to measure in the sense that bespoke is 100% custom, whereas made to measure involves a base suit that's later altered using the customer's measurements.

You Can See Suit Thickness by Looking at the S Number

Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that suits with a thicker fabric offer greater warmth and protection from the elements than similar suits made with a thinner fabric. While true, most people don't know how to check this element, other than feeling the fabric in person. Well, there's an easier and more accurate way to check the fabric fineness of a suit: looking at the S number. Typically appearing as a number followed by the letter S, it reveals the fabric's fineness. The higher the S number, the more fine the fabric. You may also notice that some suits are labeled with word "super." Known as Super S (for obvious reasons," this was originally used to describe the highest quality wool. Over time, though, the term has since changed. Today, Super S typically refers to wool that's both new and pure, or wool that's made using a blended fabric like mohair, cashmere wool, alpaca and silk. Super S suits typically cost more than traditional suits with the basic S, but this isn't always an indication of quality. The bottom line is that you shouldn't expect a suit with the Super S label to feature better quality materials and/or craftsmanship than a suit without the Super S label. 7524746004_c5a3654574_z

Most Suits Have Fewer than Four Buttons

Have you ever stopped to count how many buttons your suit has? Probably not, as most men rarely count their suit buttons. However, it's a little-known fact that most suits have three or fewer buttons. The only exception to this rule is a special high-waisted, wide-legged suit known as a zoot suit. These zoot suits typically have half a dozen -- sometimes more -- buttons. Furthermore, zoot suits have different placements and styles for these buttons. The top button typically aligned with the waistline, while the remaining buttons rest below the waistline. This allows for a longer-looking suit, which is a characteristic feature of the zoot suit.

Keep the Bottom Button Undone

A good rule of thumb to follow when wearing a suit is to leave the bottom button undone. Assuming your suit jacket or coat has at least three buttons, etiquette states that you should leave the bottom most button undone while fastening the remaining buttons.

Check Quality By Looking at Canvas

You can often gauge the quality of a suit jacket or coat by looking at the canvas. This is essentially a later of sturdy fabric that's found between the jacket's inner lining and outer fabric. The canvas is used to prevent the fabric from stretching, helping it maintain its shape more easily. Unfortunately, some vendors use cheap "floating canvases," which are made with a fused glue. These floating canvases are rough, making them less comfortable to wear. And furthermore, floating canvases may damage the suit jacket's overall durability, placing it at a greater risk for tearing. Always inspect the canvas of your jacket to determine whether or not it was made with high-quality materials and craftsmanship.

You can Eliminate Wrinkles without a Iron

Here's a scenario to consider: you're getting ready for work in the morning, only to realize that your iron no longer works. You can't wear a wrinkled suit to work unless you want to get yelled at by your boss. So, how do you eliminate wrinkles without using a clothing iron? We've talked about this before on our blog, but there are a few ways to deal with a wrinkled suit, one of which is to hang it in the bathroom for 15-20 minutes while the hot water is running. The steam produced by the hot water should smooth out wrinkles without saturating your suit with excess moisture. Another idea is to run over your suit with a hair dryer, which should also smooth out some of the wrinkles.