For this month’s fashion tip I’m going to begin what may be an ongoing series on choosing a suit. There are a lot of factors that go into choosing a suit but, judging by the suits I see on men around town, not many people pay attention to them. Obviously that can have negative repercussions; a sharp looking suit will connote success and confidence, but a bad suit can be a significant handicap.
For this first suit-oriented tip I’m going to focus on venting. When buying a suit it’s important to look at the jacket and determine how many slits it has in the back along the bottom. These slits are called vents and there are basically three main types of venting: no vents, single vents, and double vents. (This is also true of most sport coats and other jackets as well).
The most flattering of these styles is double-venting. A double-vented jacket will have two slits, just behind each hip. This style looks more European and typically has the greatest slimming effect on the body. It makes the wearer look more athletic and its lines suggest the ideal masculine shape. This kind of suit also suggests a classier look; because it requires more effort to make (more cutting, sewing, etc.) it looks more expensive (and sometimes, but not always, costs more too). All of these factors combine to give double-vented suits a sleek, flattering, modern aesthetic.
Though I prefer double vents, I more commonly see single-vented suits. These suits will have a single slit in the center of the back and the style is characteristic of looser, more billowy American suits (as opposed to European styles). When I recently asked (the incredibly talented tailor) Lady Danburry why this kind of suit is so common she speculated that it is because they are easier, cheaper, and faster to make, especially by machines. Not surprisingly for suits that have emerged under those conditions, these suits are less flattering. Of course, the single vent can be used to make the suit slimmer and more tailored, but depending on body shape it usually won’t compete double vents. (This style is particularly unflattering when paired with the great fashion travesty of the century: pleated pants).
Finally, suits with no vents are often the least tailored. They’re basically cylinders cut out of fabric and are less flattering. In fairness, some would say they look more formal than single-vented suits (more like tuxedos, for example). They can evoke a particular kind of retro vibe as well; Cary Grant wears one in North by Northwest for example. Still, double and single-vented suits can look equally retro and formal under the right circumstances and have the advantage of actually being attractive too.
Ultimately, then, a double-vented suit is going to be the most stylish choice. Though people in professional and social settings probably won’t consciously note how many vents your suit has, they will be impressed by a man that looks especially sharp and well kept. It should also go without saying that a better looking suit leads to greater confidence, which is in turn a key ingredient for success. So the next time you go decide to revamp your wardrobe remember: venting matters and there is no fashion neutrality.