Assessing A Garment's Fit And Structure - Mens Suits, Vests, Trousers, Shirts
Most mens suits come two-piece, since adding a third element increases their price. However, the vest has always been favored by those style-conscious men who appreciate the quiet resplendence of a third layer of wool. The businessman in his three-piece suit who removes his jacket in the office can rely on the dressiness of his waistcoat to retain some decorum while enjoying the freedom of shirt sleeved attire. A vest also augments a suits versatility, as its exclusion from a three-piece ensemble creates a different look.
The properly fitted vest should be long enough for its fifth button from the top to cover the trouser waistband, yet not so long that its points extend below the hip. A well-made vest has its own definite waistline, which is where the trouser waistband should hit. Men who prefer low-rise trousers that rest on the hips should avoid vests. Belts and vests should also choose other dance partners, since belts not only add further bulk to the already layered waistline, but tend to poke out from under the vest. When the suits trousers are supported by braces, with their pleats spilling out from under the waistcoat, the single-breasted ensemble achieves a tailored swank afforded only by the addition of this third layer.
A waistcoat should not have a skintight fit. It should be cut full enough to allow its wearer to sit comfortably with its back belt done up to keep it from riding up the trouser waistline. The top of the vest should be high enough to peek out above the waist-buttoned coat. A classic suit vest has four welt pockets, with a six-buttoned designed to leave the bottom button undone. Better-designed vests have their fronts slightly curved to conform to the single-breasted jackets rounded fronts. A waistcoats back should be longer than its front. This length is needed to cover the waistband should a man choose to bend forward. The vests back lining usually matches the jackets sleeve lining. Vests without adjustable rear belts or whose fronts and backs are of equal length are usually poorly designed and cheaply made.
Right down to its unbuttoned, cutaway bottom, the mans tailored vest is a legacy of upper-class fashion. Even the way it is worn is a tribute to royal style. Having unbuttoned his waistcoat to relieve the pressure on his royal ampleness, Edward VII neglected to do up the eccentric fashion ensured which survives to this day.
The cut of todays tailored suit trouser is much more classic in shape than its predecessor from the fitted era. Pants have recovered from the hip-hugging jeans mentality of the sixties and the tight, plain-front Continental pant of the seventies. In the nineties, most mens trousers have a longer rise, deeper pleats, and full-cut thighs that taper down to the ankles exactly the way the great tailors originally designed them to give comfort and follow the lines of the body.
During the Second World War, when the U.S. government required manufacturers to conserve fabric, plain-front trousers became standard issue, retaining their popularity throughout the gray-flannel, Ivy League era. However, all suit trousers should have pleats, just as most custom trousers did prior to the war. Pleated pants look dressier and their fuller fronts provide greater comfort than plain-front trouser: hips widen when the wearer is seated, and with less wear to the trouser. Objects placed in a front pants pocket are better concealed within a pleated trouser than a pleatless one.
The classically designed pleated trouser has two pleats on either side of its fly a deep one near the fly and a shallower one near the pocket to help keep the main pleat closed. This arrangement maintains the working relationship between the two pleats. The current trend for multiple pleat or some other gimmick of fancified fullness reminds ma of the recent gilding of the necktie with overwrought prints, a fad that was as fleeting as it was excessive.
While having your trousers fitted, make sure the pleats are not opening . Look down to see if each legs front crease intersects the middle of each kneecap and finishes in the middle of each shoe. If it is off at all, the crease should err toward the inside of the trouser. A crease that falls outside the knee creates the illusion of breadth, something most men prefer to avoid.
The trouser bottom should rest with a slight break on the top of the shoe. It should be long enough to cover the hose when a man is in stride. Its width should cover about two-thirds of the shoes length. Cuff give the trouser bottom weight, helping to define the pleats crease while maintaining the trousers contact with the shoe. Like any detail of classic tailoring, cuff width should be neither so narrow nor so wide that it call attention to itself. To provide the proper balance, the cuffs should be 1 5/8 for a person under five feet ten, 1 3/4 if he is taller. Cuffs of 1 1/7 or 2 reflect the erratic ness of their master: fashion.
From Style and The Man by Alan Flusser
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