When it comes to choosing a tweed jacket, a pair of trousers, or men’s suits, we all know how important fit is. Fit tells us whether the clothing we’re wearing is the right size for us and whether it’s going to move comfortably when we do. Fit determines if those suits and jackets we buy sit well on our body.
However, fit doesn’t always determine whether or not we actually look good. That’s the job of the silhouette.
The truth is, you should always consider both silhouette and fit when choosing men’s clothing. These are not warring adversaries; instead, they are partners that should always be working together.
When assessing fit, the basics should always be considered:
While finding the right fit is essential, determining whether or not the silhouette works well on your body is just as essential. Do this, however, you need to have a basic understanding of what silhouettes are.
Silhouettes refer to the actual style of the suit and how it looks, without any embellishment in the way. There are two kinds of silhouettes: structured and soft. Structured suits will be made with stiffer fabrics and have additional layers of padding. Softer silhouettes will be made of soft materials and thin layers of padding.
There are three areas of a suit jacket or tweed jacket that make up a silhouette: the shoulders, the chest, and the skirt (or the lower part of the jacket that hangs below the waist.) By altering the padding and style of any of these areas, the silhouette changes. For example, some suits are made to have a more pinched waist; this accents and defines the skirt more, altering the entire look of the suit. Some are designed with more padding in the shoulder to provide the wearer with a taller, more muscular look.
In recent years, a ‘clean and lean’ trend has developed in men’s fashion circles; this trend focuses on changing the silhouette of men’s suits in all three areas so that they ‘hug’ the body and make those wearing them appear leaner. This involves adjusting all three areas of the silhouette. The shoulders receive little to no padding, the chest fits tightly against the body, and the skirt is snug on the hips. The opposite, and less popular, trend requires just the opposite, but offers a more masculine, yet elegant, look with a fuller chest and more depth.
A silhouette can also affect how tall or wide a man appears. Sometimes men’s suits are created with higher gorges- the seam that connects the lapel notch to the collar of the suit. With the help of a lower button point, suits like this can elongate the silhouette. To widen the silhouette, suits with extended shoulders and wider lapels should be chosen.
The silhouette and fit of your suits and jackets shouldn’t be at odds. They should, instead, be considered carefully together whenever you’re purchasing new clothing items. Just remember that while they are both important, they are very different.