A guide to formal suits in 2023

A Comprehensive Guide to Formal Suits for Men

Formal suits have long been a symbol of elegance and refinement, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries. Whether it's a wedding, a job interview, or a black-tie event, the right suit can make a powerful statement. This comprehensive guide will delve into the various aspects of men's formal suits, providing valuable insights to help you select the perfect ensemble.

The Different Types of Men's Formal Suits

Single-breasted Suits

Single-breasted suits, characterized by a single row of buttons down the front, are the most common type of suit. They come in three main styles:

  1. One-button suit
  2. Two-button suit
  3. Three-button suit

Double-breasted Suits

Double-breasted suits, though less common than single-breasted suits, are more formal. They typically have two rows of buttons and are often worn in more formal settings. Prestigious brands like Cesare Attolini offer a range of double-breasted suits.


Tuxedos are the epitome of formal evening wear, typically reserved for black-tie events. Classic tuxedos feature a black or midnight blue jacket with satin lapels, a matching pair of trousers with a satin stripe down the leg, and a waistcoat or cummerbund.

Morning Suits

Morning suits are usually worn for formal daytime events, such as weddings or horse races. A morning suit consists of a single-breasted coat with tails, a waistcoat, and matching or contrasting striped trousers.

Key Components of a Formal Suit

The Suit Jacket

The jacket is the most noticeable part of a suit and comes in several styles with distinct features:

  1. Lapels

    • Notch lapel: the most common type, found on single-breasted suits
    • Peak lapel: more formal, often found on double-breasted suits and tuxedos
    • Shawl lapel: reserved for highly formal events, typically seen on tuxedos
  2. Vents

    • Single vent: one vent in the center of the jacket's back
    • Double vent: two vents, one on each side of the jacket's back
    • No vent: creates a sleek silhouette, but may restrict movement
  3. Pockets

    • Flap pockets: standard pockets with a flap covering the opening
    • Jetted pockets: more formal, without a flap, just a thin strip of fabric
    • Patch pockets: casual, with a separate piece of fabric stitched onto the jacket

Suit Trousers

Trousers play a significant role in the overall look of a suit, and their details should not be overlooked:

  1. Pleated vs. flat-front trousers: pleated trousers are more traditional and provide extra room for comfort, while flat-front trousers are more modern and create a slimmer silhouette.
  2. Cuffs vs. no cuffs: cuffed trousers are classic and timeless, while uncuffed trousers can create a sleek, modern appearance.
  3. Suspender buttons vs. belt loops: suit trousers may come with either suspender buttons or belt loops, depending on the wearer's preference and style. Renowned brands like Marco Pescarolo offer a variety of styles to choose from.

Waistcoats (optional)

Waistcoats can add an additional layer of sophistication to a suit, with options including:

  1. Single-breasted waistcoat: most common, with one row of buttons
  2. Double-breasted waistcoat: more formal, with two rows of buttons
  3. Low cut waistcoat (for tuxedos): specifically designed to accommodate a bow tie

Suit Fabrics and Patterns

Different fabrics and patterns contribute to the overall appearance, comfort, and versatility of a suit:

Types of Suit Fabrics

  1. Wool: versatile, durable, and available in various weights for different seasons
  2. Linen: lightweight and breathable, ideal for summer months
  3. Cotton: comfortable and casual, suitable for warmer temperatures
  4. Silk: luxurious and lightweight, often reserved for special occasions
  5. Cashmere: soft and warm, perfect for colder months and available from high-end brands such as Kiton
  1. Solid colors: versatile and easy to match with various accessories
  2. Stripes: classic and timeless, creating a slimming effect
  3. Checks: varied and stylish, ranging from subtle to bold
  4. Herringbone: a subtly textured pattern, adding visual interest without overpowering
  5. Houndstooth: a distinctive and classic pattern, often found in wool suits

Choosing the Right Fit and Style

The Importance of the Right Fit

A well-fitted suit not only looks better, but it also increases comfort and confidence. Brands like Sartorio Napoli are known for their impeccable fit and craftsmanship.

Slim Fit vs. Regular Fit vs. Classic Fit

These terms refer to the overall silhouette of a suit, with slim fit being the most modern and body-hugging, regular fit offering a balance between slim and classic, and classic fit providing the most room for movement.

Suit Measurements

Properly measuring for a suit is crucial for achieving the right fit. Key measurements include chest, waist, sleeve length, and trousers length. Many luxury brands, such as Brunello Cucinelli, offer a wide range of sizes to cater to different body types.

Tailoring and Alterations

Investing in professional tailoring can greatly improve the fit and appearance of a suit. Alterations may include adjusting sleeve length, trouser length, or waist size.

Choosing Suit Colors for Different Occasions

When selecting a suit for various occasions, consider these classic and non-traditional colors:

  1. Classic colors: black, navy, and charcoal are versatile and appropriate for most occasions
  2. Non-traditional colors: light grey, olive, beige, and brown can add flair and personality to a suit, especially during daytime events or less formal settings

Choose the right color for weddings, interviews, and formal events, keeping in mind the desired level of formality and personal style. When in doubt, opt for a classic color, as timeless options will always be appropriate.

Accessories and Finishing Touches

Selecting the right suit accessories can elevate the entire ensemble. Some staples to consider include:

  1. Dress shirts
  2. Neckties and bow ties
  3. Pocket squares
  4. Cufflinks
  5. Shoes
  6. Socks
  7. Belts or suspenders

Investing in quality accessories, such as those from Italian Designer Brands, can add a polished touch to a formal suit.

Proper Suit Care and Maintenance

To extend the lifespan of a suit and maintain its appearance, follow these steps:

  1. Cleaning and pressing: have suits professionally cleaned and pressed to preserve their shape and fabric integrity
  2. Storage: store suits on a sturdy hanger in a well-ventilated area, away from direct sunlight
  3. Repairing and replacing: address any necessary repairs promptly, and replace worn or damaged items as needed

In Conclusion

A well-fitted formal suit can significantly enhance a man's appearance and confidence. Investing in quality suits and accessories is essential for creating a timeless and stylish wardrobe. By following this comprehensive guide, selecting the perfect suit for any occasion becomes a seamless and enjoyable process.

Shop our Top Italian Designer Suit Brands now.


  1. What are the different types of men's formal suits?

    There are several types of men's formal suits, including single-breasted suits, double-breasted suits, tuxedos, and morning suits.

  2. What are the key components of a formal suit?

    The key components of a formal suit include the suit jacket, trousers, and optionally, a waistcoat.

  3. What are the different types of suit fabrics?

    Suit fabrics include wool, linen, cotton, silk, and cashmere.

  4. How do I choose the right fit and style for a suit?

    Choosing the right fit and style for a suit involves understanding the difference between slim fit, regular fit, and classic fit, taking proper measurements, and considering professional tailoring and alterations.

  5. How do I care for and maintain a suit?

    Caring for and maintaining a suit involves professional cleaning and pressing, proper storage, and prompt repairing and replacing of worn or damaged items.

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About the Author

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This article was originally written by Piergiuseppe Castiello in Italian - it was then translated by an expert translator to bring it into the English speaking world. Piergiuseppe is the owner of Porcamo SRL - and is also the founder of IsuiT.