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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The Gabardine Suit

For the ultimate in light-colored suit fare, nothing beats the colonial gabardine. Since its introduction in the thirties, the classic gab has consistently ranked right up there on the list of idealized dress suits. Costly to weave, expensive to tailor, sometimes problematic to press. The top-quality gabardine is delicate, luxurious and has limited wearability.

Not a colonial coloured Gabardine, but a very modern shawl collar navy blue Gabardine suit.

Not a colonial coloured Gabardine, but a very modern shawl collar navy blue Gabardine suit.

While not as sumptuous as its wool confrere, the cotton gabardine two-piece offers a soothing alternative to the typically dine suit will wrinkle, but its satiny freshness and cool suppleness offer the humidified epidermis a princely measure of comfort.

1-button contemporary navy blue suit jacket with shawl collar slanted pockets jetted & double breasted waistcoat

What is Gabardine?

Gabardine (or Gaberdine) is a smooth cloth in fine to medium worsted yarns that is so tightly woven it is soil-resistant and almost water-resistant. The twill rib is pronounced due to a weave with more warp threads than weft. It is usually in solid colours. This cloth is a popular suiting for all uses, including formal dress. Gabardine is also used for tailoring coats, raincoats, uniforms and men's shirts.

Racing green Gabardine suit with peak lapels and slanted pockets.

When it comes to worsted wool gabardine, the advantages are that it wears very well. It feels comfortable and it holds shape well. Wrinkles will go away when you hang it. The disadvantages however are that it is a 'dry clean only' suiting. It shows press marks very easy. Cleaners can over press too. You should request careful pressing.

History of Gabardine


The word Gabardine or Gaberdine has been used to refer to a "dress, covering" since the 1590s. It was originally a long, loose cloak or gown worn in the Middle Ages, but later it would signify a rain cloak or protective smock-frock. It has been used to mean "closely woven cloth" since 1904. 

Gabardine was invented in 1879 by Thomas Burberry, founder of the Burberry fashion house in Basingstoke, and patented in 1888. The original fabric was waterproofed, before weaving and was worsted wool or worsted wool and cotton, tightly woven and water-repellant but more comfortable than rubberized fabrics. 

Burberry clothing of gabardine was worn by polar explorers, including Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, in 1911, and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A jacket made of this material was worn by George Mallory on his ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924. 


At De Oost we have tailored several suits with Gabardine suiting fabric. Gabardine is also popular for making a separate pair of trousers. Because the fabric is tightly woven, it is firm, durable and rather lustrous, which makes it a good tough fabric for a sturdy pair of trousers.

Taupe solid Gabardine trousers.

The Effect of a Gabardine Suit

Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy (1983).

Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy (1983).

The website discusses several suits worn in the different James Bond movies. It is notable that light brown Gabardine suits were worn in two James Bond movies. On the picture on the left we see Roger Moore as James Bond visiting India in Octopussy in a tan wool Gabardine suit. On the picture underneath we see him wear a light brown Gabardine Suit in For Your Eyes Only. A light-weight gabardine wool suit in light brown is a great suit for spring when it’s fairly warm but too early to take out the summer suits. In For Your Eyes Only, James Bond wears the light brown suit in Corfu to church for his confession to Q. 

Roger Moore as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only (1981).

Roger Moore as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only (1981).

The Striped Suit

Of all men’s suitings, none has ever matched the glamour and popularity of the striped suit. At one time or another in the thirties, the striped suit probably graced every pair of male shoulders, from the humble to the most famous, from the unemployed to the chairman of the board.

Although its stripes had to be positioned perfectly for maximum effect, this pattern’s innate appeal derived from its vertical line. Elongating any physique, the striped worsted quickly established itself as the patriarch of all patterned dress suits.

The variety and scale of classy suiting stripes are endless. They can be in single, double, or triple tracks, against plain or fancy background. Lines can be faint or bold, from subtle shadows to hairlines to pins, up to pencils or chalks, in spacings ranging from narrow to wide. 

History of The Striped Suit

The striped jacket and matching trouser formed their own partnership around the turn of the century when the lounge suit started to replace the black jacket and odd striped trouser for business dress. When the Prince of Wales launched the daytime vogue for shadowy chalk stripes, he elevated the stripe suit to new level of cosmopolitan consciousness.

The montage of striped swells here illustrates the proposition that when executed knowledgeably, the two-color tailored ensemble can add up to more than just a simple two-color look.

Laurence Fellows illustration of a gentleman in classic striped suit.

Laurence Fellows illustration of a gentleman in classic striped suit.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby wearing doublebreasted striped suits with wide lapels.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby wearing doublebreasted striped suits with wide lapels.

The Striped Suit - Part of the modern business attire

Many modern online style guru's suggest to wait with getting a striped suit if you do not have your collection of basic suits in your wardrobe. The great thing with the solid navy, the solid charcoal, the solid medium grey and the solid light grey is that you could wear those almost every day and change out your shirt, change out your tie, change your pocket square, perhaps even sometimes change your shoe style and you are going to find out that people are not going to notice that you are wearing the same suit. 

A striped suit however, stands out, so people will remember you as 'that man with the striped suit.' Those other suits do not necessarily draw attention to themselves like a striped suit does, because they are simple classics and many people are not going to notice if one day you are wearing a navy and the other you are wearing a charcoal. But a striped suit demands to be noticed.

The Striped Suit: Perfect for Short and Heavy Men

Without question, correctly cut cloths can definitely aid the short, stout man in appearing taller and thinner. Vertical Striped patterns help to elongate the figure, the eye needs to be distracted from the waistline and led north to the shoulders and south below the knees. 

James Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano in the TV-series The Sopranos, wearing a navy blue chalk striped suit.

James Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano in the TV-series The Sopranos, wearing a navy blue chalk striped suit.