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Elements of a Custom Suit

Henry A. Davidsen is proud to continue its partnership with Career Wardrobe as the COVID-19 pandemic has such a profound impact on employment in our region. Please read about Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign and how Henry A. Davidsen is supporting it.

man wearing blue and tan plaid suitSince the dawn of Casual Friday decades ago, laid-back dress codes have come to rule the day. This is the case even at firms like Goldman Sachs. Still, the suit remains a man’s most impactful business attire. It’s also one of the larger investments a man can make in his wardrobe on a per-item basis, so it’s important to know the elements of a custom suit.

Design Elements of Men’s Custom Suiting

With that, we created the Elements Of A Custom Suit series. Buying a suit is one thing; buying a custom suit is quite another. There are details and options in the world of custom suits that would never be addressed in traditional retail environments. We make it a point to educate each client we work with on the finer points and meanings portrayed through line and design, so we still recommend scheduling a complimentary consultation, but here is some background to give you a starting foundation to think from.

man pressing suit jacket shoulderWe’ll go over the most common design components we offer on each part of a suit. As you read, remember that anything you see can be achieved when working with Henry A. Davidsen. More importantly, if you don’t see something here, but you’d like to try on your own garment, contact us. We accommodate special requests whenever possible, whether making made-to-measure or custom clothes.

This series is broken up into three natural elements. You can click any of the links below to jump to the article about the garment, or you can scroll down for a quick overview of each one.

Please note that while proper fit and fabric are instrumental in crafting the perfect suit, those are hugely complex topics outside the scope of this series. We’ll address them in their own respective series’.

A (Very, Very) Brief Soliloquy On Suits

person sewing brand label into suit jacketThe suit as we know it – jacket, pants, and vest made of the same exact material – has been around for over one hundred years. Though nowadays we consider a suit to be standard business professional attire, the original term was “lounge suit.” This makes sense when you know that businessmen in the late nineteenth century routinely wore stroller coats and striped trousers for business. When they were relaxing at home, they would don a “lounge suit.”

We’ve become much more casual in the past half-century, so today you’d be hard-pressed to find a man who wears a suit for lounging.

Custom Suit Jackets

paper patterns for mens custom suits
Paper patterns used for custom suits.

The focal point of any suit is its jacket. Derived from robes worn by wealthy British aristocrats, the best ones have clean lines that make a man look handsome, strong, reliable, credible, successful, and trustworthy. The worst ones do the opposite. The design options we discuss with most clients are:

  • Button Stance
  • Lapels: Notch, peak, and shawl
  • Vents
  • Upper & lower pockets
  • Lining
  • Buttons
  • Stitching colors

Custom-Made Pants / Trousers

sketch of left and right panels of pantsThough they don’t get the attention that suit jackets do, trousers form a crucial part of the tailored ensemble. They seem simple, but there are still plenty of details that make up a cool pair of custom pants, such as

  • Fronts: pleated or plain
  • Bottoms: cuffed or plain
  • Waistband: belt loops, side fasteners, or none at all
  • Front pockets
  • Back pockets

Custom Vests For Men

man on train reading bookMost suits are two-piece suits, meaning they are made of a matching jacket and trouser. Three-piece suits, on the other hand, also include a vest (known in British English as a “waistcoat”).

The beauty of a vest is the versatility it lends a suit. When part of a three-piece ensemble, it comprises the most elegant suit of armor you can wear. When you’re at an event and you start getting warm, you can remove your jacket and still appear “dressed.” Also, vests have their own design elements, such as:

  • Lining
  • Buttons
  • Lapels
  • Pockets

Learn More About Suits

old man in three piece plaid suitThere’s a lot that goes into the design of a custom suit, but we’re here to help. If you’d like to learn more about the ins and outs of men’s custom suits, click any link below:

We strongly encourage you to take a look at Career Wardrobe’s OutFIT for Work campaign and donate if you can.

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