Cuffs, Lapels, and Fits: The Basic Anatomy of a Suit

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Every man need s a good suit. But if you’re new to wearing a suit, you might not know exactly howto craft the right suit for your needs. In this blog, we outline several elements of a suit and discuss your options for suit-wearing success.


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The cuff of your suit actually refers to the wrist closures of the shirt you wear under it. You have three main cuff options.

French Cuff

If you want to wear cufflinks, you need the French cuff. French cuffs fold back and have holes for cufflinks. The cufflinks you choose can dress this suit up or down, though typically French cuffs are reserved for more formal occasions.

Barrel Cuff

Barrel cuffs, also known as button cuffs, are the most common type of cuffs. Barrel cuffs are spectacularly easy and don’t require any extra thought from you when you’re getting ready for the day. Any shirt you buy at the store will typically have single buttons on each cuff. Custom suits, however, give you the option of having two or three buttons.

Turnback Cuff

The turnback cuff, sometimes referred to as the James Bond cuff or cocktail cuff, is a mix of a barrel cuff and a French cuff. It folds back just like a French cuff, but instead of requiring cufflinks, this cuff buttons. As its nick name suggests, this type of cuff was popularized by Sean Connery’s James Bond, so if you’re feeling a little more daring than usual,choose this cuff.


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Lapels are the folded flaps on the front of your suit jacket. There are three basic shapes of lapels, all fit for different occasions.

Notch Lapel

The notch lapel is the most common variety of lapel. It’s named for the notch made when the bottom of the collar meets the top of the lapel. You may find slimmer or wider notches, but they’re all based on the same principle. This lapel is versatile, perfect for anything from job interviews to a typical day of work.

Peak Lapel

Peak lapels can be found on formal suit jackets like tailcoats or morning coats. The edges of the lapels point upwards to your shoulders, which makes you look slightly taller. These cuffs are difficult to put together correctly, so they’re a bit more expensive. Weddings and formal dinners are common sites to see peak lapels.

Shawl Lapel

The shawl lapel, unlike the notch or peak, has one long continuous curve, instead of any breaks or points. You’ll usually only find this lapel on a tuxedo or smoking jacket. The shawl lapel represents a classy choice that works for red-carpet galas or black-tie events.


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The fit is how your suit conforms to your entire body. When choosing a fit, take your body type into consideration.

Classic Fit

A classic fit, or traditional fit, is good for movement and growth. While it’s clean cut, it’s not fitted tightly enough to make any person who’s not used to wearing a suit uncomfortable.

Slim Fit

You may also hear slim fit suits referred to as Italian fits. As the name suggests, this suit is fitted closely to the body in the arms, the chest,and the legs. This doesn’t mean only skinny people can wear it; it just means the suits its closer to the skin.

Modern Fit

Modern fits aren’t as relaxed as a classic fit or as trimmed as a slim fit. Choose this fit if you want to look sharp but are uncomfortable or unsure about a slim fit. Modern fitted suits are also easy to dress up or down depending on your needs. Once you decide which of these options you like best, you can start making more detailed decisions and taking measurements. Use this general guide as a starting point,and get in touch with a custom suit maker to build the most comfortable,classiest suit for your body type.

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