Suit Terms and Definitions: What You Should Know

Suit Terms and Definitions: What You Should Know

Off the Rack

Even if you are unfamiliar with the term, you've probably seen or have even worn an off-the-rack suit at some point in your life. Off-the-rack suits are the basic suits sold at most retail department stores. They are made using standard men's measurements and sold without any customization or tailoring. Not surprisingly, they are the cheapest type of suit to buy. But just because it's the cheapest doesn't necessarily mean that it is the best solution. The problem with off-the-rack suits is that many of them require tailoring. So if you're looking for a suit that fits just right, you should skip the off-the-rack suits and choose a different type instead.

Made to Measure

When shopping for a new men's suit, you may come across the term "made to measure." Made-to-measure suits generally cost more than traditional/standard suits, which may discourage some men from buying them. So, what in the world is made to measure and is it worth the extra cost? A made-to-measure suit is exactly what it sounds like: a suit that has been sewn and stitched together using a standard base pattern. The customer provides the designer or retailer with his measurements, at which point the made-to-measure suit is created. While they tend to cost more, most men will agree that made-to-measure suits are well worth the investment due to their exceptional fit and customization.


A step up from made to measure is bespoke. Bespoke suits are tailored according to the customer's own measurements. The customer gives his measurements to the tailor, and the tailor uses these measurements to create a custom bespoke suit. The great thing about bespoke suits is that you can rest assured knowing that will fit you just right. If you aren't willing to pay the premium price associated with them, however, you can always opt for an off-the-rack suit instead. Off-the-rack suits offer many of the same benefits but at a fraction of the cost.


Another term that's often tossed around in conjunction with men's suits is cufflinks. Cufflinks are essentially small accessories that are used to secure the button cuffs of a dress shirt. They are placed through the button holes on the shirts' wrists, securing them together to create a cleaner and more sophisticated appearance. Of course, not all dress shirts require cufflinks. If the shirt already has buttons, there's no need to use cufflinks with it. But if the shirt does not contain buttons, you'll need to either sew buttons into the shirt, or use cufflinks -- the later of which is generally preferred. Cufflinks are made in a variety of different materials, some of which include wood, stone, leather, steel, gold, silver and glass. Some men even a knack for creating their own cufflinks. business-man-1287044_960_720


While most men are familiar with the general idea of cufflinks, tiebars are a bit more confusing. After all, how many men actually wear tiebars? Well, they are actually gaining momentum in the world of men's fashion. A tiebar is essentially a small rectangular-shaped accessory that's used to secure a necktie to a dress shirt. Without a tiebar, there's a good chance that your necktie will flap around, which isn't exactly flattering to say the least. The good news is that you easily secure your necktie to your dress shirt via a tiebar. Simply slide the tiebar over your necktie and under your dress shirt, at which point it will remain secure. Tiebars are inexpensive, often costing less than $10 bucks a piece, making it a cost-effective solution to keep your necktie in place. Not every occasions is going to call for a tiebar, however. If you plan on sitting down in front of a desk for the entire day, for instance, there's really no need to secure your necktie to your shirt. But if you plan on staying active and moving around, wearing a tiebar will certainly prove beneficial in enhancing your appearance.


Lapels are sections of folded fabric in the front of a suit jacket or coat. They are formed by folding the front edges of the jacket over and sewing them into the collar. While they don't serve any functional benefits, lapels add a unique visual element to a men's suit. When choosing a suit jacket or coat, pay close attention to the lapels. There are generally three different types of lapels: notched, peaked and shawl. Notched lapels, also known as step lapels, are sewn into the collar at an angle, which subsequently creates a step effect. They are the most common type of lapels used in men's suits. The peaked lapel is a more formal type of lapel that is commonly used on double-breasted suit jackets and tailcoats. The shawl lapel features a continuous curve and is often associated with the Victorian smoking jacket, dinner jacket, mess jacket and tuxedo.


There are a few other suit terms that you should know know, including vents. The vent is essentially the piece of fabric found on the bottom-rear portion of a suit jacket or coat. Among the most common types of vents is the center vent, which is characterized by a cut that goes up through the middle of the jacket. Ideally, center-vent suit coats and jackets should lie closed when worn. If it does not, you need to choose a different size because it does not fit right. A second type of suit vent is the side vent, which allows the wearer to place his hands in the pants pockets without creating a bunch of extra fabric around this area. Side vents are also known to make jackets look thinner and slimmer. Of course, some men's suits do not have vents at all. Known as no vent jackets (for obvious reasons), they offer a clean, modern look. The only downside to wearing a no vent jacket, however, is that it's less forgiving with the fit. Unless you choose a suit jacket that fits you just right, wearing a no vent jacket may look awkward.