The difference between British, American and Italian suits

Every bespoke tailor has its own signature tailoring style, which has been developed by years and years of experience, knowledge, passion and artistic creativity. Over the years suit styles have also developed. Nowadays you see a lot of suits that mix the different features and styles. However, traditionally there are three suit styles. Those styles are British, American and Italian.

British suit style


The British suit style finds its origin at Savile Row. Savile Row’s place in the formal history of suiting was cemented in the mid-19th century, when the Prince of Wales ordered a tailless smoking jacket, a relatively informal jacket style, made out of the fabrics traditional for a tailcoat. the Prince’s new style, called a dinner jacket, began a trend that revolutionized British fashion, introducing casual styles into the strictly regulated canon of English dress wear. The vision of the Prince of Wales, together with the creative mind of a skilled tailor, sir Henry Poole, slowly changed what was considered formal wear amongst an extremely traditional high class. The dinner jacket, and, of course, the whole new suit style they created, had a set of unique characteristics that persisted through time, were passed from generation to generation arriving in our wardrobes under the label “British style”. This is one the greatest examples of timeless style.


The British suit is emphasized by structured shoulders, a stiff canvas and low gorge lines, giving the jacket a very sophisticated look. The fit is tailored to be close to the body, with close fitting sleeves ending with surgeon’s cuffs and a high armhole. The jacket can either be single-breasted or double breasted, with usually two vents and a ticket pocket. The pants have a high waist and up to 3 pleats (a fold created by doubling fabric on itself and securing it in place).

These type of suits are ideal for average built men.

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American suit style


The rise to popularity of these suits came in 1920’s by Ivy Leaguers. At the turn of the 20th century, a distinctly American suit style emerged among the world’s fashions: the sack suit. Modeled after a French coat popularized during the 1840s, the sack suit was loosely-fitted, giving its wearer a soft silhouette. Manufacturers, like Brooks Brothers, were looking for low-cost garments to produce in large quantities, garments that lent themselves to industrialized production. Because the sack style was meant to look baggy, it was already a one-size-fits-all product: less variation was less expensive.


In its original form this suit is the least stylish. Its distinguished characteristics are single vent in the back, higher armhole, straight lines, flap pockets and natural (almost no padded) shoulders giving you softer silhouette. Also these suits were very baggy. Looser cut in these suits is very rewarding if you have to spend countless hours in them. The coat was single breasted with two or three buttons. The sleeves wear with a loose fit and feature three buttons only. Characteristics of the pants are that they were not pleated and they are cut full. 

These type of suits are ideal for big/wilder built men.

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Italian suit style


Brioni is widely credited as the innovator of the “Italian” style. They introduced their style to the world in 1952, at the first fashion show to feature a male model as its focal point. Especially in America it got famous because of the 1953 movie ‘Roman Holiday’, in which Gregory Peck wore Brioni suits. The “new” Italian style quickly won popularity over the American suit and the British suit.


The Italian suit style is modern, trendy and cut very slim. Italians were not comfortable in the structured British suit. A suit that is too heavy to be worn comfortably in warmer weather. The Italian prefer to use lighter cloths. Also the feel of the suit is lighter.  The jacket is considerably less structured compared to the British one, and as a result of that, the cloth follows one’s natural curves. The jacket is a little bit shorter, shoulders are padded and the jacket has a V-shape. Pockets are flapless and the gorge lines are high. The jackets originally did not have any vents but today two vents are common in Italian suits. The pants have a tapered waist and tight hips.

These type of suits are ideal for slim/athletic built men.

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On average, Italian suits work best with a slim and athletic person. American suits are for a more tough built. British suits are still the most formal wear, and can be highly tailored to any body type. But if the traditional suit styles do not fit you, your idea of style and your personality, then combine them to create a unique suit. We would love to be of assistance.

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How your suit and shirt should fit.

How your suit and shirt should fit

Your appearance; whether sharp and confident, relaxed and cool, or sloppy and juvenile – is often reduced to the fit of your clothing. Finding the right tailor may be crucial, but there is nothing nearly as significant as sharing a critical eye with the fitting-room mirror. Fortunately for most of us, picking the right fit doesn’t require much natural talent. All that’s required is some quality time with apparel and an attention to detail. The following serves as a general fit guide for the novice.



Before we jump in, let us note that clothes best flatter a fit body. When it comes to your appearance, apparel is only part of the equation. It is important to eat well, drink well, and exercise occasionally. Many of us have busy lives and we cannot all be models, but you don’t need six-pack abs to look good. It is much easier for clothing to look great for someone in shape. However, losing weight isn’t the only thing that matters – if you’re lanky and stick-like, start working out. It will help you fill out your clothes. Additionally, before beginning have someone accurately take all of your measurements. These are very useful numbers when shopping for clothing in-store, and they are absolutely crucial when shopping online.

Dress Shirts


The collar should just graze your neck without constricting it. If turning your head causes the collar to turn with it, the collar is too tight. You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers inside of your buttoned collar without it tightening against your skin.

Your cuffs should meet the point where your palm begins (about 2cm up from your wrist bone). It should be tight enough that your thumb notch at your wrist will stop the cuff from moving up your hand. It should be a bit looser than a properly fitting watch, and not go farther up your wrist than that watch.

The shoulder seam should be at your shoulder bone. This is the point on your shoulder that is the greatest distance away from your sternum.

Sleeves should not be so tight that you can see the details of your arms, but they should also not be so loose as to billow. When you bend your arm, your cuff should not move more than an inch up your wrist.

Shirt length should be such that bending and making natural movements does not cause the shirt to become untucked. Additionally, your shirt should remain tucked if you fold your hands behind your head. If this is a problem, the shirt may be too short or the armholes may be too low. Alternatively, armholes should not be tight around the shoulder.

Left: Just right, cuff stops where your palm meets your arm. 
Middle Left: Sleeves are to long and start to cover the hand.

Middle Right: Too large asize causing the shirt to billow and crease.
Right: Shirt is flush to the torso but loose enough not to restrict movement.


About 2 cm of shirt should be revealed by the jacket collar. The shoulder seam should lie on the edge of your shoulder. The aim is to reduce the amount of buckling, as the shoulders should have no apparent wrinkles or divots while the arms are down at the sides.

Similarly to shirts, armholes must be sufficiently high, and alternatively should not be cutting into your armpit. The arms should move somewhat independently of the jacket during normal motions.

While buttoned, the jacket should not pull across the chest (fabric making an ‘X’ shape across your abdomen). Similarly, it should not pull across the shoulders when arms are folded.

Holding your hand flat, you should easily be able to fit it inside the jacket under the lapels.

The jacket’s second button from the bottom should lie just above your belly-button, never below.

With your arms at your sides, the sleeves should cover the wrist bone.

If a jacket doesn’t fit your shape properly, sometimes the bottoms will flare out, a product of the jacket being too slim in the waist, so your hips push out the fabric.

A suit jacket’s length – like a good lawyer – should cover your ass

Left: Tell-tale X shape at button when a blazer is too tight
Middle Left: No folds of fabric bunching at the button; a perfect fit
Middle Right: An unsightly divot at the shoulder of the suit jacket.
Right: The shoulder is smooth with an uninterrupted line.



Most rules are the same as suit jackets, in that shoulder seams should lie at your shoulders (given what you’re wearing underneath).

Keep in mind what you will be wearing under your coat, as the size will need to adjust accordingly.

The coat should not be roomy, but should lie close to your body and accentuate your shape. That being said, it should be in no way taut, and should allow freedom of movement.

Sleeve should go about an inch up your hand from your wrist (an inch longer than a dress shirt sleeve), to ensure that you’re not showing any sleeve from something you’re wearing underneath.

Like a jacket, if a coat doesn’t fit right sometimes the bottoms will flare out like a bell, beware of this. It makes the coat look skirt-like.

Chinos & Dress Trousers


No pants should need a belt to stay on your hips.
The pants in the image are somewhat a slimmer cut. There is nothing wrong with the fit, but some may prefer a more conservative look.

Avoid pleats. They make you look as though you are carrying more weight around your stomach.

The chino should not be tight to the leg, but also should not billow. It should be comfortably close to the leg without causing resistance.You generally want a single break in the pant leg. A break is a crease at the base of the pant leg created when the pant collapses onto the shoe. If you’re going sockless with slim chinos then you probably want no breaks.


Similar to the Chino in fit, dress trousers should not be tight to the leg, nor billowing but, lie comfortably close to the leg without resistance but they will naturally drape more.

Again, avoid pleats as they make you appear heavier.
The trousers should have a single defined crease down the center of each pant leg.

You want to aim for a smaller break, but you still want a break. Some people opt for a cuff that weighs down the pants and has no break, some even use lead sewn into the cuff to achieve this. I believe a small break (as shown) is pleasing to the eye, and Brooks Brothers adhere to this style.



Regarding cut, the jeans should be slim in the thigh and straight or tapered from the knee down. Avoid bootcut.

Go with your waist size and stick with straight leg or slimmer. Size down 1 for a slimmer fit. The jeans will stretch.

When it comes to breaks due to gravity, most people don’t want more than a few, as shown. Some people aim for more breaks, this is called “stacking”. Ultimately the number of breaks is a matter of taste. Depending on the style of the jeans and rigidity of the denim, you can get away with bunching further up the leg. Since jeans are very versatile and can be fit with numerous styles, this varies.

Length can vary if you plan to cuff the jeans. Jean cuff can vary from 3-12cm depending on your style.



The tie should simply sit under your collar, and should not tighten your collar.

Your knot should vary depending on your collar. A wider collar, such as a cutaway, would call for a larger knot such as a full-windsor. A narrow collar, such as a pointed collar, would call for a four-in-hand. Experiment and see what knots look good to you.

While standing straight, the bottom of your tie should just reach the center of your belt



While on your feet, you should not be able to easily fit a finger behind your heel (this varies a bit, but your shoes shouldn’t be roomy).

You should be able to barely graze the front of the shoe with your toes. The front of the shoe should not be pressing on your toes.

The shoe should exert little to no pressure on the sides of your feet. This should be obvious, but walking should be comfortable and take no effort.

With formal shoes choose a round-toe (as pictured) as flat-toed shoes give your foot a clunky appearance.

Men's Bespoke Trousers: Style and Fit

It seems like jeans are the go to pants for covering ones legs, even paired with sports coats for semi-casual situations. Comfort and casualness are pointed to as the reasons the once rebellious jeans have made such an arrival on the sartorial scene. But there is a more stylish and perhaps just as comfortable alternative to the jeans: the humble trousers.

George Bryan Brummell, also known as Beau Brummell, in his later years, wearing full length trousers.

George Bryan Brummell, also known as Beau Brummell, in his later years, wearing full length trousers.

Trousers are the more traditional alternative to jeans when it comes to semi-casual and formal wear. Ever since Beau Brummel donned the first pair of modern full-length trousers centuries ago, the trouser has been worn by men of differing backgrounds, social standings, economic classes and political ideologies around the world and across the decades. The trouser is truly a garment that binds men together. It is the article for every man, for trousers lend themselves to be tweaked, adjusted, shortened and changed according to the individual’s needs. De Oost is a bespoke tailor, so if it is a different type of trousers, a plus-fours for example, that you desire, we can make it for you too.

Men’s Trouser Styles

And like everything else, there have been countless different styles of trousers. However, today there are two main styles that focus primarily upon the front: first, the flat front trouser and second, the pleated trouser.

The more traditional and stylistic pleated trousers have pleats of material that fold down the front from below the waistband on either side of the fly. Personally, I believe these pleats look great and add a touch of style while giving my hips and legs extra room and freedom to move. Pleated trousers are perfect for the business setting where more traditional styles are acceptable, though they can be worn for nearly ever occasion.

Sean Connery, as James Bond, wearing grey pleated trousers.

Sean Connery, as James Bond, wearing grey pleated trousers.

The flat front, while a very old style, has been adopted by fashion-setters as the new and hip style of trousers, often worn low on the hips. Unlike the pleated trousers, flat front trousers lack any sort of pleats down the front. The clean lines of flat front trousers lend themselves to be worn with fitted jackets and sleek accessories and are popular with younger trouser wearers, though flat front trousers can effectively be worn by anyone who desires. Flat front pants are considered to be a continental European tradition and cuffs are of Anglo-American origin. Although these may sound like obscure details, mixing these two styles is fairly obvious to well-dressed gentlemen and should be avoided.

Trouser Cuffs / Turnups

Another stylistic consideration that must be taken into view is trouser cuffs (or the lack thereof). A cuff is an upturned flap of material that goes all the way around the leg hem. A cuff requires extra material to create and therefore adds more weight to the trouser leg, making the trousers hang and drape very well from the wearer’s body.

This cuff serves the basic purpose of protecting pants from fraying or any other kind of damage from wet and muddy conditions. Although King Edward VII is considered the originator of the traditional cuffed pant in the 1890s, they became an American standard in the early 20th century. Since then, cuffed pants remain a mark of quality in bespoke tailored pants as well as off-the-rack pants. They should be regarded as a stylish embellishment to a properly fitted pair of pants, but also as a helpful tool in accentuating individual features. Remember, cuffed pants are definitely considered the dressier option when wearing a standard suit or the odd trouser, but they are not to appear on black-tie tuxedo pants.

Grey Morning stripe trousers with fishtail and cuffs.

Grey Morning stripe trousers with fishtail and cuffs.

Cuffs can be made in a variety of depths, anywhere from one inch to two inches though these are merely general boundaries. A 1 ½” deep cuff is considered to be a good middle point. Cuffs are a traditional style and, as you’ll find out below, may be a requirement depending upon the style of trouser that is chosen.

Cuffs must be made on trousers with pleated fronts. This is a requirement that not only has a long tradition but balances out the trousers, keeping the trousers from being too busy on top. However, flat front trousers can be made with or without cuffs, though traditionally cuffs are preferred.

Cuffs In Relation to Height

The cuff of quality made pants should be subtle no matter what height the wearer stands.The proper width of trouser cuffs should be 1 ½ inch (3.81 cm) for a man under 5 ft 10 (177.80 cm) and 1¾ inch (4.44 cm) if taller.  If the wearer does not consider himself to be tall or does not mind appearing taller, he should consider this when opting for cuffs. The line of the top of the cuff around the ankle encroaches the long line of the leg. This can make a man be perceived as slightly shorter.

If the wearer absolutely needs all the height he can get, no cuffs is the best option. Some consider not opting for cuffs due to short stature is outdated advice. If cuffs are the preferred choice for the shorter man, opt for a 1¼” cuff width instead of the conventional 1 1/2″ cuff. When having a tailor make cuffless pants, the bottoms should be slanted so that the hem rests lower on the top of the shoe heel. In the following video I tell you how these slanted bottoms work out.

What style of trousers you choose depends partly upon personal preference and partly on body type.

A Man’s Body Type and Trouser Selection

Body type can play an important role in choosing trouser styles. While skinny, long legged men can effectively wear both the flat front and pleated trousers, portly or shorter men must be more careful when picking a style. Depending upon individual body shape, larger men may want to avoid pleated trousers as the extra bulk of the pleats could add extra pounds of visual weight.

Try on the two different styles of trousers and see which you prefer the most. Once you do pick out your favorite style, it’s time to know how to wear them.