While the trajectory of men’s tailoring over the last 150 years has clearly been towards fewer frills and more comfort, most people alive today consider the two-piece suit to be on the dressier end of the spectrum. However, when first introduced in the later 19th century, the matching jacket, waistcoat and trousers were called a “lounge suit” and for good reason: it was seen as a decidedly informal look, designed for sports and other casual outdoor activities. Although the basic building blocks are still used today, wartime cloth rationing in the 1940s saw the waistcoat drop away from the ensemble, making the two-piece more commonplace.
From James Bond to Jay-Z, the two-piece suit can currently be worn in a wide variety of settings and styles. In muted colors with a tie and a traditional white shirt for a formal look. In off-beat fabrics or with knitwear on top for a more modern feel. Even in a stretchy sartorial weave combined with a t-shirt or hoodie and sneakers for a laid-back twist.
What today is often considered the most classic piece of menswear started — according to fashion historians — as an ensemble prescribed for the court in 1666 by King Charles II. Fast-forward a few centuries and the then-mandatory wig has now gone out of style, the knee-length coat and long vest have shortened considerably and become more fitted, and the tight “knee breeches” with stockings replaced by full-length trousers.
Usually in the same fabric as its jacket and trousers, the waistcoat is the defining third piece of this dapper combination. Perfect for any type of formal gathering, like weddings, galas, and other official ceremonies. It’s an easy way to elevate your look for a day at the office or any time you’re looking for some extra oomph. With this look, fit is everything as the vest naturally draws more attention to your waist. Noteworthy tip: always leave the bottom button of your suit jacket and waistcoat open. This is actually thanks to another king, Edward VII, who accidentally started the trend when he began unbuttoning for his expanding waistline and his subjects followed suit.
It may seem like a logical continuation of post-pandemic life, but the birth of the lighter construction suit actually dates back to the 1980s and Paul Schrader’s box-office hit American Gigolo. Richard Gere appeared on the big screen in this new style of suit, changing the world of menswear as we know it. The jacket’s shoulder pads and stiff interlinings were removed and lighter fabrics used, creating a new silhouette that toed the line between nonchalance and sophistication. It was an instant hit.
Increasingly popular, even in business settings, this kind of suit offers exceptional comfort and freedom of movement, while also being especially easy to dress up or down. The unconstructed jacket not only helps keep you cool in the warmest of weather, it’s also aesthetically our favorite choice for linen and a great way to give any suit an air of effortless refinement. In recent years, it’s morphed into more of a relaxed and everyday option, now commonly seen with more utility and comfort details, like patch pockets or drawstring trousers.
The history of the Nehru suit can actually be traced back to a mix of Asian influences and British tailoring, the iconic details riffing on culturally significant Indian garments. Though it’s named after India’s first prime minister, Jawaharal Nehru, Nehru never technically wore the jacket himself. The name was only coined following its introduction to the west, around the time of his death in 1964. In the 60s, norms were being questioned and alternatives to the traditional suit were gaining steam. Budding stars like The Beatles — inspired by Eastern spirituality and style — sported this “new” look and cemented it in the fashion landscape.
Structurally the same as the traditional single-breasted jacket but with a high button closure and a short, stand-up collar instead of lapels, the Nehru jacket takes on extra elegance when paired with matching trousers. Your choice of fabric and accessories play a big role in defining the suit’s personality. For example, a S120 wool sablé with a silk pocket square for chic ceremonial affairs or a wool-silk-linen blend with loafers for a summer-ready statement.
When an invitation indicates “black tie” men are still expected to do what they’ve been doing since the late 19th century: break out their best tux. What’s classic now actually began as a rather unusual look when it was first invented for the Prince of Wales in 1865 on Savile Row. Crafted in dark blue silk and intended for informal dinner parties, this new “dinner jacket” was based on the 1850s smoking jacket with a shawl lapel and lack of tails, fashioned with matching trousers. The suit was only popularized and first called a tuxedo after becoming the talk of the town in 1885 at an annual ball in Tuxedo Park, NY.
Since, the colors and details have changed surprisingly little. It’s best to keep it classic: in blacks, dark blues, or whites with shawl or peak lapels and a white shirt, with or without a vest. You can make an impression with the perfect fit and the accessories you choose: the type of bow tie, cufflinks, pocket square, shirt buttons. If you really want to be bold, go for a smoking jacket in dark fabrics and play with textures – but make sure to have a satin or Ottoman lapel. Either way, our favorite final touch? A pair of patent calfskin shoes.