A suit is a set of clothes comprising a suit jacket and the matching trousers. Suits are typically worn as formal wear and they usually cover more than just the body and bottom and sometimes also include headwear.
Most suits come in a variety of colors, but are typically either black or grey, both of which are considered appropriate for weddings or funerals. Other colors include blue, brown, red, green, beige/khaki/tan/ocher/stone-colored brownish-yellow.
The purpose of a suit is to project an image that is appropriate for occasions where one’s appearance needs to be formal or professional. The suit can also provide protection against cold weather by covering up the individual’s arms while staying warm enough on its own. For this reason, the suit is an essential part of a man’s wardrobe (and most men own several suits in different fits and colors).
The suit is one of the most-consumed articles of clothing worldwide and there are many styles, including:
A jacket is also referred to as a blazer in the United States. In other countries such as France and India it is referred to (French: vested, Indian: kurta) as a shirt or tunic. Other colloquial terms for jackets include coat (Ireland, Netherlands) or mac(jacket) in Canada and South Africa, suggesting a garment that resembles a coat, but does not have sleeves.
A vest is similar to a standard jacket (American English), but with no sleeves. The term “vest”, short for waistcoat, refers to the item’s function of covering the upper body and is typically used only in the United States. A vest may also be described as a waistcoat or a sleeveless jacket.
The word “waistcoat” generally refers only to waist-length jackets that button up to the neck worn by men, especially as part of black tie attire, though formally it may refer to any kind of shorter jacket that closes at the front. Vests are often worn by women as well, usually under a suit jacket or blazer.
The most formal waistcoats are cut in the same manner as a suit jacket in terms of buttons, vents, and front shape. Other variations include the use of patches on the elbows or shoulders, or localized trimming and tailoring.
This type of vest is usually worn with a necktie, but can also be worn with an open-necked shirt. Unlike most other types of waistcoats that are closed down the front using only one or two buttons, this type closes in the front using more than one button at a time (typically 3–5).
A vest is also commonly referred to in the United States as a “vest or waistcoat”. This is in contrast to the more formal “waistcoat”, which is differentiated from the former by folding over and covering both upper and lower torso. The two terms are also used interchangeably in American English, whereas they both refer to the same garment in British English.
Some men sport a sport coat, which despite its name can actually be worn over a shirt and tie and buttoned up the front. These sport coats can be made of wool or silk and come in many different colors. Typically the wool is a tweed, herring bone or a mix of these. The jacket is an easy transition piece from casual to formal wear.
A sportscoat is often worn with jeans, chinos, corduroys, or khakis on the weekend. It can also be worn to the office on casual Fridays or on vacation in warmer weather for activities such as golf. Often it can be found on sale for under $100 at men’s clothing stores. It has become more popular recently due to its comfort and versatility while still allowing some degree of formality compared to just wearing a polo shirt and khakis with no jacket.
A blazer is a type of vest with the addition of a jacket, normally with four to six buttons. It can be worn as a casual or business-casual garment. The jacket may be devoid of a vent and buttoned solely at the front, but typically has one or more side vents. This style of vest is often worn by British men during the summer months and it offers a more formal alternative to the traditional shirt and tie combination. Sometimes a jacket and vest with the same material and color is worn with tartan patterns.
Blazers can also be made from heavy fabric such as wool or tweed, with a single-breasted button front, and without side vents. The term “blazer” is common in Britain, although in America it is more commonly called a suit jacket. In Ireland it is known as a “mac”. A blazer made from light weight materials is often used as an alternative for light jackets in warmer months; the classic example of this use is polo shirts and blazers (white shirts and blue blazers).
Originally a blazer was a type of smock worn by sailors, but is now more closely associated with the British school uniform of the 19th century.
In theatre and film, particularly film noir, a trench coat is a style of long raincoat with turn-up cuffs and pockets. The trench has its origins in the First World War and is increasingly popular with men who prefer to wear dressier clothing for work – often as part of a character’s wardrobe. A dark closured jacket also doubles as an informal coat during warm months or on casual Fridays.
A classic choice of trench coat is worn over a shirt and necktie in the summer, and over a shirt and open necktie in colder months. Trench coats have been worn in America since the 19th century so it has been shortened from “trench coat” to “trench”.
The cabaret version, also known as a short raincoat, is a long raincoat with a zipper opening at the front. It has been popular since the 1940s. It should be noted that these are still considered formal blazers; while they may be worn to go out on an evening (drinking), they are often too informal for business meetings or formal business attire – such as court appearances.