The Boutonniere

A boutonniere is great way to add a bit of flair to an outfit; but when is it proper to wear one? And which flower should you be wearing? And how do you actually wear one? For answers to all these and more, read on.

Boutonniere

The ever dapper Sean Combs, in a double-breasted pin-striped suit, complete with boutonniere

The how is pretty simple; all you need is a jacket with a working lapel buttonhole, and a fabric loop on the back of the lapel to hold the flower stem in place. If you jacket doesn’t have these, don’t worry; it’s easy enough for them to both be added. Just be careful, if your lapel isn’t canvassed, it may not be strong enough to support a larger flower.

As far as when you can wear one, the answer is also pretty simple: Whenever you feel like it. With a tie and pocket square combo, it adds that little extra level of dressiness to an outfit; and without a tie it can it can add a bit of interest to an otherwise simple outfit. The idea that a boutonniere should be reserved for formal occasions is completely incorrect, and doing so just limits you unnecessarily.

A working buttonhole and a loop on the back are a necessity. Image curtosy of Art of Manliness

A working buttonhole with a loop on the back are a necessity. Image courtesy of Art of Manliness

As for what flower to wear, much like everything else, that depends on the occasion. For formal events, stick with simple colours, like Red and White. For every other event, the colour matching principle is basically as the same as a pocket-square; match it with one of the other colours in your outfit.

Tom Ford in Black Tie with a white boutonniere

Tom Ford in Black Tie with a white boutonniere

Carnations and Roses

Carnations

Carnations are great because they are relatively cheap, common, good-looking, and come in a range of different colours. Stick with red or white for formal occasions, but don’t be afraid to go a little crazy with you choice for more casual outfits.

Carnations are one of the most common boutonniere flowers in the United States, are the national flower of Spain, and show respect in Korea. In France however, carnations are a common funeral flower and considered unlucky outside of this setting. – The Art of Manliness, A Man and the Boutonniere

 

Roses

Think of Roses as more expensive Carnations; they come in just as many colours, and are just as appropriate. For a super-quick guide to the meanings behind different colour Roses, click HERE 

Poppy

Poppy

The Poppy is pretty much the universal symbol or remembrance, so wear it to memorial services, and on the various remembrance days.

Fake Flowers

Now, as nice as fresh flowers are, they don’t stay fresh forever, sourcing good ones can be a pain, and the cost can quickly add up; that’s where Fort Belvedere comes in. They’re certainty not the only ones making fake flowers, but they are definitely some of the nicest that I have seen; from a distance, you would think that they were real. You can also make more casual felt flowers yourself at home.

 

A more casual option, felt flowers can easily be made at home, or bought online.

A more casual option, felt flowers can easily be made at home, or bought online.

 

Recommended Reading: 5 Books Every Stylish Man Should Own

Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion by Bernhard Roetzel

Timeless Guide

The first book on men’s style that I owned, A Timeless Guide to Fashion is the most recommended style book on lists like this. Full of colourful pictures and easy to understand text, this book is at home on your bookshelf as it is on your coffee table.

The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good by Esquire

Handbook Style

Witty, humorous, and well written, The Handbook of Style is a mandatory part of any well-dressed mans library. Full of pictures, drawings, and good advice, the Handbook is aimed at the style novice, but there is something for everyone in it. If you only have one book on this list, make it this one.

ABC of Men’s Fashion by Hardy Amies

ABC

Laid out like a glossary, this book has just about every word related to men’s style, and their definitions. More of a reference book than a guide, ABC of Men’s Fashion will definitely come in handy decoding your other books.

Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Men’s Wear by Roberto Cabrera

Classic Tailoring

Classic Tailoring Techniques isn’t necessarily about style; but I think knowing how your clothes are made will give you a greater appreciation and understanding of just how and why things are the way they are. Not only that, but you will never have to ask someone to sew a button or hem a pair of trousers for you again.

Details Men’s Style Manual: The Ultimate Guide For Making Your Clothes Work For You

Details

A bit more colourful, and definitely for the beginner, the Men’s Style Manual is a basic primer for those just getting started; styled more like a magazine than a library book, it features glossy, full colour images, and interviews with style icons. It’s a good starting point for the absolute beginner.

Loake 202 – A Shoe Review

So, last week I received my new Loake L1s from Herring Shoes, and now, I’m ready to write my review.

tl;dr: Good for the price, but I recommend saving up for something with better leather.

As always, I did my research before hand, and I was honestly hesitant to shell out $220 on a pair of shoes that either might not fit my, or might be not the best quality. The reviews on the forums seemed to indicate that while Loake in general was fairly decent, the only range really worth buying were the 1880s. Still, the L1 range looked decent, and was within my budget, so I took the plunge.

Loake-Loake 202-Brown Polished-239-228-3

 

At £100($193), they are actually cheaper than my shoes from Charles Tyrwhitt; with the exchange rate at the time, plus postage, they came to about $220AUD when I bought them. For that price, they are excellent; Goodyear Welted construction, with a rubber heel, and a quarter leather insole; the only real flaw is the corrected grain leather upper. Being made in India hasn’t affected the construction quality, and they are made well to Loakes standards.

However, as with all corrected grain, the leather is stiff, and plastic-y; despite this, they are still comfortable to wear, and the leather will soften a bit over time. Overall, they are a good shoe, and worth the price. Still, I recommend saving up and buying something with better quality leather, like the 1880 range, or the Herring Classics (which I will be reviewing later this week).

Loake-Loake 202-Brown Polished-239-228-4

Loake-Loake 202-Brown Polished-239-228-1

 

A Guide to Cufflinks

I love cufflinks; all but one of my dress shirts have french cuffs. As a matter of fact, unless I absolutely love the rest of the shirt, and I’m buying it at a discount, french cuffs are a prerequisite. I covered the different types of cuffs in my Guide to Collars and Cuffs, but as a quick refresher, this is a regular button cuff:

1-button-barrel-cuff

Single-Button Barrel Cuff

And this is the french cuff:

french-cuff

The French Cuff

 

When in doubt stick with the basics.

My favorite cufflinks are a pair of plain silver-coloured ones that I bought on eBay years ago for about $7; I wear them most days, they are simple, elegant, formal, and match with my other accessories.

Silver Square

For more formal occasions I have a pair of black and gold cufflinks (similar to the pair pictured) that I picked up for $10 at a thrift store.

Black Gold

 

What they have in common is that they are both subtle, and simple designs; things that don’t stand out or draw attention, but will still work with most outfits or occasions.

A bit of subtle flair

The basics are good, but cufflinks are a perfect way to add a bit of flair to an outfit, without being over the top. I’m fond of adding a bit of colour with glossy enamel cufflinks; I like a Fleur-De-Lis motif, but you can also show off your patriotism with flags, or your school pride (assuming you went to a school fancy enough to have its own cufflinks). Old coins can also be turned into unique cufflinks.

Cufflinks

A Little Novelty

Novelty cufflinks are a great way to subtly show off your interests, and can work as good conversational pieces (just don’t be the one to draw attention to them). I have three sets of novelty cufflinks; a pair of playing cards, dominoes, and a pair that are actually 8GB flash drives (so that I can pretend to be a spy).

Cufflinks2

These types of cufflinks are fine for everyday office attire and more casual events, but I wouldn’t bring them out for formal occasions or first dates (the second or third date should be fine). If you do have a formal occasion, your best option is…

Black and White (and Gold)

When it comes to black tie events, your best option is either Mother of Pearl, or black Onyx; the setting should either be Silver or Gold. I prefer Silver with Mother of Pearl, and Gold with Onyx.

Black Tie

Notice the cufflinks in the image above are double-sided, and joined by a short chain; these are considered the most formal type, and are the best option for Black Tie.

When To Wear Them

French cuff shirts are generally perceived as more formal, but the truth is they are acceptable in every situation that regular button cuffs are; the degree of formality would be determined by what else you are wearing (suit, sportcoat, blazer, etc), and the cufflinks that you choose. Ultimately, wear them when you have the desire.

Recommended Reading

If you are looking for a more in-depth guide to cufflinks, check out this article by Real Men Real Style; it goes into great detail about the different types and styles of cufflinks, and I recommend reading it. It also has lots of pictures.

The “Easy-Iron” Debate

There is a lot of debate over easy-iron shirts; some people swear by them, others wouldn’t touch them with a 10ft pole and a hazmat suit; and seeing as they are usually made with a formaldehyde-producing resin, I can certainly understand that reaction. But how bad are they really?

Well, if you are sensitive to the chemicals, they can cause you to break out into a rash, or just be generally irritating; if you don’t have sensitivities, then the level of potentially dangerous chemicals is usually too low to cause any long or short-term health problems. Even then, the chemicals will break down in the wash over time, and will eventually dissipate all together. As a general precaution, you should always wash new clothes before you wear them anyway (this may void a returns policy, so check that out first).

Pros:

  • Time Saver – Most of the time the shirts will be ready to wear straight off the clothes line, if not, then a light steam will get them going.
  • They stay neat all day
  • Good ones are just as comfortable as regular cotton
  • Great to have on hand in an emergency (keep one folded in your desk, or in the boot of your car)

Cons:

  • Potentially irritating/dangerous chemicals (always buy from a trusted source, not some shady guy in an alley)
  • Cheap ones can be stiff and scratchy, and hold sweat like a polyester shirt.

I’m a traditionalist, and generally try to stay away from synthetic fabrics when I can afford it, but I honestly have no problem with non-iron shirts. I’ve never experienced any skin irritation from them, and I spend most of my time in air conditioned rooms, so sweat isn’t usually an issue. Ultimately, my advice is to buy whichever shirt you prefer.

Kingsman Wardrobe on a (relative) Budget

After watching the advanced screening of Kingsman, I have been staring longingly at the wardrobe designed by Mr. Porter; nothing from which I can afford. So, here are some cheaper alternatives for those who want the Kingsman wardrobe, without a budget backed by a major spy organization. Here are some alternatives to the items by Mr.Porter.

The Shoes

Keeping with the spirit of the Kingsman, I’m going to try and keep the items either British-made, or British-designed; with that in mind, I’m going with shoes by Charles Tyrwhitt.

Black Cap Toe Oxfords  – $349

Black Heathcoat$350 is a reasonable price for a pair of British made, calf leather Oxfords; and you would expect them to last at least the average persons life-time; of course, as a spy, there are no guarantees on how long you, or your shoes will last. Unfortunately, there are no blades hidden in the toe.

If $350 is a bit too much, I recommend these, for $199; the leather’s not as good, and they are not made in Britain, still, I own a pair, and I like them.

Patent Leather Dress Shoes – $189

Patent Leather At some point in every spy’s life, he finds himself at a black-tie affair. Sure, the budget conscious can just shine up their regular Oxfords, but it’s really better to had a dedicated pair of patent leather Oxfords.

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Brown Oxford Boots – $350

Tan BootsMeermin is a spanish brand that I have literally just found, so I can’t vouch for the quality; I’s really hard to find good boots at a reasonable price. Still, they look good, and seem to be made from good quality leather, with rubber soles.Tan boots are incredibly versatile, something that every spy, and indeed, every gentleman, should be.

The Shirts

White Twill – $99 ($80)

White Twill

A white twill shirt is the most basic, and most versatile shirt a gentleman can own; Turnbull & Asser, as stocked by Mr. Porter, makes some of the best shirts in the world, but they run about $300 each. As regular readers will know, Charles Tyrwhitt is my go-to shirt brand. Because some shirts are likely to be damaged in your spy activities, I recommend buying two of each.

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Sky Blue Twill  – $99 ($80)

Sky Twill

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Pink End-On-End – $59 ($49.75)

Pink

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Marcella Dinner Shirt – $99 ($80)

Marcella

The Suits

Navy Suit – $499(USD)

Navy Suit

Black Lapel is an online made-to-measure tailor, that offers well-tailored garments, at a fraction of what they would cost at a tailor. If you don’t know, made-to-measure(MTM) means that the clothing is made to your measurements by altering a standard pattern, this will give you a greater fit than an off-the-rack suit, but it may not be as good as a fully bespoke suit. In the spirit of the Kingsman, I only wanted to recommend double-breasted suits, but they are pretty hard to come by at a reasonable price.

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Charcoal Suit – $499(USD)

Charcoal Suit

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Midnight Blue Double-Breasted Suit – $499(USD)

Navy Double

In my (somewhat) humble opinion, nothing says british gentleman better than a double-breasted suit. Unfortunately, they are rather hard to come by; fortunately, Black Lapel offers two double-breasted models, a solid midnight navy, and a navy windowpane; both make a wonderful addition to the wardrobe of the gentleman spy.

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Navy Windowpane Double-Breasted Suit – $699(USD)

Navy Windowpane Double

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Midnight Blue Dinner Suit – $529(USD)

Midnight Dinner Suit

There comes a point in every gentleman’s life when he is given the opportunity to attend a black tie event. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the traditional black, peaked lapel jacket, but every gentleman knows how to add a bit of colour and subtle flair to his outfit; a dark blue shawl lapel is the perfect way to do this.

Blazers

Brown Windowpane Blazer – $499(USD)

Windowpane Blazer

Every gentleman knows that there are some situations where a suit wouldn’t be appropriate; that’s where the humble blazer comes in. Pair either of these models with a pair of grey flannel trousers for a stylish, smart casual outfit.

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Navy Windowpane Blazer – $379(USD)

Blue Houndstooth Blazer

Trousers

Grey Flannel – $129

Grey Flannel

Grey flannel trousers are great because the look good, are durable, and match nearly everything; they can, unfortunately, be hard to come by. I recommend buying a couple of pairs.

Outerwear

Navy Chesterfield Coat – $419

Chesterfield Coat

Every gentleman needs a warm coat for the harsh british winter. The Chesterfield coat is perfect for wearing with your suit, and the pea coat is great for your more casual outfits.

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Navy Pea Coat – $369

Pea Coat

Knitwear

Grey Cardigan – $79

Cardigan

A grey cardigan is perfect for those cool days when you don’t need a suit, but still want to be warm. If a cardigan isn’t your style, switch it out for a charcoal v-neck. Better yet, get them both.

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Charcoal V-Neck Jumper – $69

Charcoal Jumper

Accessories

Ties

Green/Teal Plaid – $15

Green Plaid

Sure, you could pay $50 per tie, but the tie bar has a far wider range, at incredibly low prices; I’ve picked out some of the ties that are similar to the ones Mr. Porter has in the Kingsman wardrobe.

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Navy Faux Grenadine – $15

Navy Grenafaux

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Solid Grosgrain Bow – $15

Grosgrain Bow

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Midnight Navy, Light Blue Stripe – $15

Navy Light Stripe

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Speckled Navy – $15

Speckled Navy

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Burgundy Faux Grenadine – $15

Burgandy Faux Grenadine

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Chocolate Faux Grenadine – $15

Chocolate Grenadine

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Speckled Eggplant – $15

Speckled Eggplant

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Pocket Squares

Solid White Twill – $8

White Twill Pocket

The first pocket square every gentleman should own is the solid white twill. A white pocket square works with every outfit, and is the traditional gentlemen’s choice for black tie attire. A burgundy pocket square is a colourful alternative, and is equally acceptable for black tie. In addition to these two, a gentleman should have a range of coloured and patterned squares, for less formal occasions, and to compliment his many ties.

Solid Burgundy Twill – $8

Burgandy Twill Pocket

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Red Floral – $8

Red Floral Pocket

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Burgundy Rose Pattern – $8

Red Rose Pocket

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Cufflinks

Union Jack Cufflinks -$59

Union Jack

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Fleur-De-Lis Cufflinks – $59

Fleur

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Burgundy and Rose Gold Bar Cufflinks – $59

Burgandy Rose Gold

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Mother of Pearl/Onyx Shirt Stud Set – $99

MOP Studs

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Mother of Pearl/Onyx Cufflinks – $99

MOP Links

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Watches

Invicta Pocket Watch – $156.20

Invicta Pocket

Invicta is my favorite brand for reasonably priced, good quality watches. They don’t match the quality of Bremont, and they don’t shoot poison darts, but they are all very good-looking pieces, that should be a part of a gentleman’s wardrobe.

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Invicta Vintage 13060 – $180

Invicta 13060

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Invicta Vintage 12212 – $80

Invicta 12212

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Invicta Vintage SS12223 – $62.72

Invicta 12223

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Sunglasses

Classic Folding Ray-Ban Wayfarer – $260

Rayban

They don’t have a camera, or the ability to show holograms, but they do fold up for easy storage. The classic wayfarer is my go-to frame, and depending on the style (round, square), they fit most face shapes.

Stationary

Moleskine Pocket Journal – $14

Moleskine

Every gentleman needs to be able to jot down notes on the go; whether it’s because of a great idea, or you need to keep track of someone’s activities.

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Cross Classic Century Fountain Pen – $110

Cross Fountain Pen

The gentleman’s pen of choice is the fountain pen, and while it doesn’t contain a remote activated toxin, it still looks good.

Umbrella

Black Walking Umbrella – $65

Walking Umbrella

Every gentleman should carry an umbrella, on the off-chance that it might rain; and while it isn’t bulletproof, or function as a shotgun, it can still be used in self-defence, should the need arise. Just pretend it’s a sword, like I do.

5 Tips For Staying Stylish on a Budget

1. Learn to Sew

Unless you are really, really, ridiculously lucky, most of the clothing that you buy off-the-rack will need alterations; or maybe you will need to replace a button now and then. Sure, you could take it to a tailor or your mother, but think about how much more impressive it is to be self-sufficient, and how the cost of these things adds up; as a general guide, here is how much some alterations usually cost:

Taper jacket waist – $20
Shorten jacket sleeves – $15
Shorten jacket length – $35
Take in pant waist – $20
Hem pant legs – $15
Take in shirt – $20

Since virtually every new suit will need, at the very least, the sleeves and trouser hem altered, knowing how to do it yourself will save $35 each time; not to mention all the other alterations you might need. Because remember, the most important thing is that your clothes fit.

The difference between good and bad fit

The difference between good and bad fit

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Get the best quality you can afford

Quality products last longer; it’s a simple fact. This means that even though you may spent a little more up-front, you will save a great deal in the long run.

3. Thrift Stores and eBay

images

Thrift stores are an incredible resource for the gentleman on a budget; I can’t count the number of second-hand shirts that I have bought over the years, all still in excellent condition, at a fraction of the retail price. If you know how to sew, altering your thrift store finds yourself just means that you get even better value for money.

eBay is another excellent resource for second-hand goods, but it also allows you a far wider range of new products to choose from, allowing you to get the best price. I buy all my cufflinks on eBay; and I don’t usually pay more than $5 per pair, at the same quality that I could buy in most stores near me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Don’t Be Trendy

Trend’s come and go; there’s no point buying new clothes every six months in an effort to look fashionable. Instead, buy clothing that suits you personally; trends be damned. Master the basics; a well fitted navy or charcoal suit and a white shirt will always be stylish, as will a good pair of straight cut jeans. Eventually everyone else will realize that skinny jeans look ridiculous, but yours will still look good. Fashions come and go, style is forever.

5. Have a Battle Plan

The best way to shop on a budget is to have a plan; work out exactly what you have, and what you need. Once you have your list, you can do a bit of research, and find the best price; remember, the internet is your friend. Some stores will price match certain products, and even give further discounts, so keep an eye out for that as well. It might also be a good idea to subscribe to receive email notifications from some of your prefered stores, to keep an eye out for sales.

 

A Short Guide to Braces (Suspenders)

Once upon a time (before the 20’s), belts were mostly for decoration or military use; the average gentlemen would hold his trousers up with braces. As men started to wear their trousers lower, the braces were gradually exchanged for belts; but braces have a several advantages over belts which have ensured that they are far from obsolete.

Y-Style Braces with leather tabs

Y-Style Braces with leather tabs

To start with, they are more comfortable; because the braces hang the trousers from your shoulders, they (the trousers) are typically a little wider than trousers cut for a belt, meaning that, not only do they always hand in the right place, they are far more comfortable when sitting. Also, there is no uncomfortable belt, clamped around your stomach.

Not only that, but you never have to worry about your pants falling down. Even with a well-fitting belt, the constant motion of walking, sitting and standing can cause your trousers to slip down; this is never an issue with braces.

Finally (and for some, most importantly), braces make your look better. Let me explain; first, particularly with trousers that don’t fit perfectly, when you wear a belt, you are pinching fabric around your waist, which looks bad. Braces eliminate this problem, and allow your trousers to hang perfectly straight in the process. Secondly, if you have a bit of extra girth in the stomach, there is no belt to draw attention to that area, which should help make the weight less noticeable (in theory). Finally, because you are not wearing a belt, there will be less of a distinction between your legs and your torso (depending on the contrast between your shirt and trousers), which can help you appear taller. This is why in general braces are highly recommended for short, stocky men.

Suspender-Attachment-Set

Suspender Attachments, image from Real Men Real Style/A Tailored Suit

Now, on to actually wearing the braces.

The most common type of attachment mechanism is the clip, but the proper one to use is either the leather button tab, or the fabric button tab (for black and white tie).

The clip type is the easiest to use, simple clip them on to your trousers. The button tabs require your trousers having buttons sewn into your waistband; something that you are unlikely to find in off-the-rack trousers, but are easy enough to add yourself. Some companies will even provide buttons with their braces, like The Tie Bar.

 

 

Clip-On Braces

Clip-On Braces

Button-On Braces

Button-On Braces

While button on braces are preferable, the only absolute rule is that you don’t wear braces with a belt, like a rube (I say rube now).

a rube

Pictured: A Rube

 If you are ready to make the switch from a belt to braces, it’s a simple procedure to remove the belt loops from your trousers and add buttons; this is the very first thing that I do to a new pair of trousers. If you don’t want to do it, then take them to a tailor and have them do it; better yet, have the tailor make you a pair of trousers.

 

 

Suit Construction – Vents

No Vent

No VentVentless jackets are somewhat rare these days, and are found mostly on traditional dinner jackets (and are indeed, the only option for purists); they are considered more formal, but are more prone to wrinkling when you sit.

 

 

 

Single Vent

Single VentA single vent is theoretically the most casual (having it’s origins in horseback riding), and can often be found on off the rack suits (particularly in the U.S), because it is uses less fabric than a double vent, and is cheaper to produce. It also has the unfortunate ability to make your rear end look larger.

 

 

Double Vent

Double VentA typically British style, a double vented jacket is the most flattering to a wider range of body types, and are often considered more formal than a single vent.