Formal Menswear Terminology – Glossary

The terms used for different parts of mens’ formal attire

man wearing suit in the library

It takes more than just an acute sense of style to embark on a sartorial exploration of the complex world of men’s formalwear; one must also have a solid understanding of the jargon used to describe it. We encourage you to examine the vocabulary of customized elegance in our “Formal Menswear Terminology – Glossary” resource. Knowing the subtleties of formalwear is crucial, regardless of your level of experience or level of interest in the art of dressing well.
To begin, let’s dispel the broad myths surrounding the world of suits, covering everything from the phrases “custom” and “bespoke” to the essential distinctions between a suit and a tuxedo. You’ll learn about the many sorts of shoulders, lapel styles, and jacket styles so you may choose your formal wear with knowledge. You will discover the relevance of the button posture, canvas kinds, and pocket designs as you go on to pockets, detailing, and construction. We’ll also go into detail on dress pants terminology, including measures for the inseam and outseam and the hem break. Lastly, our extensive dictionary will help you understand every aspect of formal menswear and make sure you understand the vocabulary of stylish language. Therefore, we can help you with everything from choosing the ideal dinner jacket to navigating the world of bespoke tailoring to just expanding your fashion vocabulary. Take a deep breath, broaden your language of fashion, and improve your formalwear game.

Typical Terms

There are a few important terms to understand when it comes to formal menswear:

The laborious process of creating a garment completely from scratch, without the use of any pre-existing patterns, is known as bespoke.

Unlike retail purchases that are off the rack, custom clothing is produced to order. This category emphasizes customized tailoring and includes both made-to-measure and bespoke clothing.

Drape captures the essence of a suit’s fit by defining how it hangs elegantly on the body.

The term “drop” describes the difference, measured in inches, between the suit jacket’s chest width and the pants’ waist size.

Made-to-measure items perfectly conform to the wearer’s exact measurements and requirements while adhering to a certain design or structure.

Off the rack,” or “ready to wear,” refers to merchandise that is easily found in retailers without requiring special ordering. Even if they’re handy, they could still require tailoring to get the ideal fit, like hemming pants or adjusting jacket sleeves.

Any clothing that can be fashioned to fit a person’s body curves is considered tailored clothes. This category in menswear mostly consists of suits, sport coats, pants, and vests, but it also includes outerwear with adjustable seams.

A three-piece suit consists of a jacket, vest, and pants for a formal look. Usually saved for noteworthy occasions like weddings, there are always exclusions.

Conversely, two-piece suits are adaptable choices appropriate for a variety of situations as they only include a jacket and pants.

A tuxedo is the pinnacle of formality, whether it is worn in two or three pieces. The pants may have a chic silk stripe adorning the sides, signifying refinement and elegance, while the jacket frequently has a silk or satin collar and lapel.

Black suit and tie


Now let’s explore the many types of jackets:

Blazer: A versatile jacket that, in terms of fit and formality, falls in between a suit and a sport jacket. While sport jackets are less formal than blazers, they nonetheless have a little more laid-back vibe than suit jackets. There’s often so little difference between a blazer and a sport jacket that they may be worn interchangeably. Blazers were traditionally blue and sometimes had metal buttons, although they are also available in plain hues like tan or gray.

Dinner jacket: A woolen staple of formal wear, usually with satin or grosgrain lapels, while others choose the opulent look of velvet. Classic colors like black, white, midnight blue, maroon, or dark green are typical for these coats, although daring individuals may try out striking designs to stand out.

Double-breasted: A jacket with two rows of buttons that, when closed, create a distinctive overlap in the fabric. A peak lapel and four or six buttons are a common characteristic of double-breasted suits, which lend an impression of formality and flare to the ensemble.

Single-breasted: Identified by a solitary row of buttons, these coats are available with one, two, or three buttons. Keep the bottom button unfastened on two- and three-button suits; it’s a subtle regulation that adds to the overall style.

Sport jacket: Depending on where you live, you may refer to it as a sports jacket or a sport coat. These jackets are not as formal as suit and blazer jackets, yet they still provide a comfortable option. They are quite flexible for virtually any other occasion, although they aren’t the first pick for formal functions (where a suit is the standard). Sport jackets are versatile pieces that work well in a wide range of styles and contexts because of their wide range of materials, patterns, and colors. You can also wear them with jeans.

Suit jacket: Typically seen as a component of a three- or two-piece outfit, suit jackets are characterized by their extended length and structured style. A suit jacket and its matching pants should never be taken apart, albeit there are several exceptions to this rule.

Shoulders, Collars, and Lapels

Let’s examine the specifics of the shoulders, collars, and lapels:

Collar Gap: The unwelcome space that forms between the wearer’s neck and the collar of their jacket. This is an obvious indication that your jacket is not fitting properly and may need to be adjusted for a seamless appearance.

Collar Roll: An obvious “roll” of fabric around the nape of the jacket that suggests an ill-fitting item of clothing. In order to solve this problem and guarantee a professional image, proper tailoring is necessary.

The lapel, a distinctive element of a jacket’s front design, is the folded cloth on the front that is fastened to the collar.

Notch Lapel: Also called a step lapel, the notch lapel is distinguished by its unique “notch” or v-shaped look, which is created by sewing the collar onto it at an angle. Due to its versatility and adaptability, it is a popular choice for a variety of situations.

Peak Lapel: This lapel extends above the collar’s edge and is delicately sewn into the collar, pointing upward. Peak lapels are a stylish option that frequently adorns tuxedos and formal suits, giving off an appearance of sophistication and forward-thinking flare.

Shawl Lapel: An unusual design in which the lapel and collar come together to create a single, uninterrupted curve. Most often seen on tuxedos, this unique pattern adds to a sophisticated and classic appearance.

Corded Shoulder: Also referred to as a structured shoulder, suits with corded shoulders have sleeve heads that continue upward over the line of the shoulder, giving the appearance of a lip or rope. This is frequently observed on Neapolitan-style shoulders that have excess fabric to give them a puckered look.

Soft Shoulder: Also called an unstructured shoulder, this design chooses to use little to no cushioning. There is no roping involved, so the drape falls naturally from the shoulder. For less formal situations when comfort and style collide, soft shoulders offer a loose and comfortable fit.

Blue patterned blazer lapel

Pockets, details, and construction

Button Stance: The location of a jacket’s top button is described by this word. For a balanced and attractive fit, it should ideally lie between one and three fingers above the belly button.

Canvas: A layer of structural fabric, usually made of a wool and horsehair blend, that is sandwiched between the inner and outside fabric of a jacket’s front panels. This layer is lightly sewn to allow for unfettered mobility and is essential to keeping the jacket’s form.

Full Canvas: This construction technique provides the maximum amount of structural stability by having the canvas span the full front panel.

Fused – Fused suits are a more affordable option to canvas construction because the inner structural layer is “fused” to the cloth rather than sewn in.

In contrast to full-canvas construction, half-canvas jackets are lighter and more breathable since the canvas is just stitched into the chest area.

Flap Pocket: Adaptable jacket pockets with a flap covering the opening; a timeless and practical style appropriate for a range of situations.

Kissing Buttons: Also known as “waterfall buttons,” they are cuff buttons that either touch or slightly overflow the sleeve. Even though they are sometimes a matter of personal preference, they are usually connected to fine craftsmanship.

Patch pockets are jacket pockets that are made of the same material as the rest of the suit and are sewed directly into the outside cloth. Although it seems more laid-back and informal, this design works well in a variety of professional and social contexts.

Pick stitching is the fine hand stitching that encircles a suit or sport jacket’s lapel, pockets, and cuffs and is a sign of fine craftsmanship and attention to detail.

Ticket Pocket: A little pocket that adds flair and personality to a jacket, usually located directly above the right pocket.

Vents: The jacket’s back has vertical openings that allow for comfortable and natural drapes when sitting and moving. They also make trouser pockets easily accessible.

Double Vent: Also referred to as side vents, these vents are located on the rear panel’s two sides. They are more common in designs that are more modern.

Single Vent: Located in the center of the jacket’s back panel, this single vertical vent is also known as the “center vent.” This design tends toward a little more informal appearance and is more frequently found in blazers produced in the United States.

Welt Pocket: Also referred to as a jetted pocket, welt pockets are constructed into jackets without an opening flap. These are the dressiest kind of pockets, typically seen on suits or sport jackets.

Working Cuffs – Also called “surgeon’s cuffs,” these cuffs feature functional buttons. Initially designed for surgeons who needed to roll up their sleeves, today, they serve primarily as a stylish choice, reflecting the wearer’s attention to detail.

suit jacket pocket and white shirt


Let’s explore the nuances of dress pant jargon:
Break: The term describes the fold in the cloth where the shoe and pant leg meet at the bottom of the pant leg. The “break” affects the way the trouser fits and moves against the foot.

Full Break: The fabric covers somewhat more than half of the rear of the shoe when worn in a standard trouser length that creates a full fold inward. Although full-length trousers are regarded as classics, they shouldn’t have more than one complete break because it would make them excessively lengthy and necessitate hemming.

Half Break: A more contemporary style of trouser length where the pant leg only reaches the upper quarter of the shoe’s back and has a little inward fold. This keeps the ankles covered when standing, all the while maintaining a fashionable appearance.

Pants without front pleats are referred to as flat-front pants. These pants provide an elegant and modern look.

The distance measured from the inside crotch seam to the bottom of the pant leg is called the inseam. To make sure the leg length of the pants is perfect, this measurement is essential.

The measurement that gives an approximate idea of the length of a pair of pants from the top of the waistband on the outside to the bottom of the leg is called the outseam.

Pleat: A little, folded piece of cloth usually located close to the waist on the front of pants. The type of pleat on trousers—double or single—affects the way they fit and look overall.

Rise: The vertical distance between the waist and the bottom of the pants measured as the difference between the outseam and inseam dimensions.

Unfinished Hem: A pant with a raw bottom edge that needs to be customized in order to have the right outseam length. Hemming guarantees a precise fit and a refined look for the pants.

Are you curious about a word that isn’t mentioned here? Please get in touch with us, and we would be happy to add more terms to our dictionary to meet your needs!

suit pants with brown shoes

At Tuxedo Uomo, our commitment to creating a great customer experience extends beyond our enthusiasm for offering premium formal attire. Since we recognize that navigating the world of formal menswear may be challenging, we regularly promote and educate our customers on these crucial terminologies. Understanding these concepts can help you create an outfit that perfectly captures your individual style, down to the last detail, rather than merely purchasing a suit. We want to provide you with the information, direction, and alternatives you need to make the best decisions possible when it comes to looking your best thanks to our carefully chosen collection of formalwear and our unwavering dedication to enhancing your sartorial experience. Tuxedo Uomo is here to make sure your transition into the world of formalwear is as smooth and exquisite as your final look, whether you’re getting ready for a black-tie event, choosing your wedding gown, or just dressing up your regular wardrobe. Please have a look around our collection, and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any queries or need more definitions. One phrase at a time, we’ll go on an exciting adventure together through the realm of refined style.

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Size Guide

Below is our size guide chart:

Shoe Sizes

Europe and US size comparison

EU40 = US6

EU41 = US7

EU42 = US8

EU43 = US9

EU44 = US10

EU45 = US11

EU46 = US12

Suit & Tux Pants Sizes

Size 38 Suit comes with 32 Pants
Size 40 Suit comes with 34 Pants
Size 42 Suit comes with 36 Pants
Size 44 Suit comes with 38 Pants
Size 46 Suit comes with 40 Pants
Size 48 Suit comes with 42 Pants
Size 50 Suit comes with 44 Pants
Size 52 Suit comes with 46 Pants
Size 54 Suit comes with 48 Pants