10 Suit Jacket Style Details All Men Should Know

29 March 2019

Every gentleman should have a good suit in his wardrobe, it’s an essential. A good suit all comes down to several factors, such as the colour, shirt, tie, shoes and not forgetting the jacket.

For a suit to look good on a gentleman, this is all part of the construction and the appearance of the suit jacket - if your jacket fits you well and follows all of the suit jacket rules, then you’ve nailed it. If not, then it could possibly lead to a disaster.

Suits have been around for many years, so it is important that you get it right every time. However, if you’re asking yourself “what is classed as a good suit jacket?” then fear not, as Hemingway give you our 10 suit jacket style details that you need to know…

1. Style of jacket

One of the most notable features on a suit is the style which determines the number of buttons on the front of the jacket. On most suits, the buttons are either singular and go straight down or double horizontally going down. Usually, a single breasted jacket has either between one to three buttons down the front which is the more classic style. A double breasted jacket is more formal and has between four, six or eight buttons on the front. If you’re going for a single breasted jacket, Hemingway recommend choosing a two-buttoned jacket and with a double breasted jacket, go for one that has six buttons as these are the most common.

2. Buttons

Following on from the above, next up is the suit jacket buttons. As mentioned previously, there are usually between one and three buttons on a single breasted suit jacket and believe it or not, there are certain rules that apply on how many you should button up and when to do so. With a one button suit jacket, which is usually in the form of a tuxedo, you should always button when standing and unbutton when seated as this can save your suit jacket from losing its shape when sat down. For two buttons, the same rule applies as before with the top button and the lower button should never be fastened. Finally, for three, the top button is optional, the middle should always be buttoned and the lower should never be fastened. 

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3. Sleeve buttons

For a formal suit jacket, there are usually four buttons on the sleeve while a sports jacket usually only has two. Every suit jacket will have buttons on the sleeve and can be positioned in three different ways; spaced in which there is a slight gap between each button, slightly touching in which the buttons are placed next to each other touching only slightly and stacked in which the buttons are almost overlapping. The most common style of sleeve buttons is the second option in which they are slightly touching.

4. Silhouette

Referring to the shape or cut of the suit jacket, there are three basic silhouettes on a suit jacket; the sack, the structured and the fitted. Whereas the sack jacket hangs on the body and is quite shapeless, structured is the most formal silhouette in which the shoulders are padded and the waist goes in slightly. Fitted presents a more tailored look and has minimal padding, and the posture of the gentleman wearing the jacket is significantly enhanced by the high armholes.

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5. Shoulders

The shoulder fit of a suit jacket is extremely important and must fit your shoulders. The shoulders of a suit jacket should complement the shape and build of the body; for example if you have quite a small to medium frame, the shoulders on your suit jacket should be soft and for larger frames, you may want to opt for a suit in which the shoulders are defined. If the shoulders on your jacket have enough room for you to freely move your arms and don’t sag where the shoulder line is, then you’ve probably found your ideal jacket with good shoulder construction.

6. Pockets

With most suit jackets, there is usually a pocket on the left side of the chest commonly known as the jacket breast pocket. Further down the jacket on both the left and right side of the jacket are two more pockets. These are normally shaped differently depending on what kind of suit jacket you have; the jetted pocket is quite dressy and usually found on a tuxedo, the flap pocket can either be fairly thick or shaped like a slit, the angled pocket is sporty and the ticket pocket was what originally held train tickets many years ago. Despite all of these pocket styles, the flaps on the pockets should always be consistent with the size of the lapels and shouldn’t be too large or too small.

7. Lapels

The lapels should always reflect the jacket’s proportions. If the lapel is wide, then the suit jacket will suit a gentleman with a larger build whereas a small lapel will be best suited for a man with a smaller frame. There are three common types of lapels in the form of a notch lapel, where the top of the lapel and bottom of the collar meets in a notch, the peak lapel which is formal and has strong edges pointed towards the shoulders and finally the shawl lapel, in which the collar has a continuous curve. The notch lapel is usually found on a single breasted jacket, the peak on a double breasted jacket and the shawl on a tuxedo.

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8. Lapel button hole

Traditionally designed to close the suit jacket and button it up, the lapel button hole is now used to hold a single small flower, or a boutonnière which is its correct name. A small flower, such as a rose, carnation or hyacinth, are mostly seen threaded through the lapel button hole for a formal event such as a wedding or christening. When wearing one, make sure the stem of the flower goes through the lapel button hole and never pin it on to your suit. If you’re not attending a formal event such as a wedding or christening, then avoid wearing a boutonnière.

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9. Linings

The lining inside a suit jacket can either be one of the following three - unlined, half-lined or fully lined. Unlined jackets are usually made from a light fabric and worn in summer when the weather is warm. If the jacket is half-lined, this still protects the suit without adding too much weight to it and is what a lot of suit jackets have, whereas fully lined suit jackets are much heavier and add protection to the inside of the jacket. Fully lined jackets are usually worn as a business jacket and should be avoided if you’re attending a formal event that isn’t work related.

10. Vent

This is found on the lower back of the jacket and is in the form of a slit. A suit jacket can  have a single vent which has more room in the jacket or a double or two-sided vent which allows for more shape and avoids creasing. Suit jackets can also be ventless, which provides a more fitted style but can also crease easily and lose its shape.

Written by your team of experts at Hemingway Tailors
Written by your team of experts at Hemingway Tailors
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