Confused about suits? Are they hard to draw? What styles are good for what occasions and what body types? What does a suit say about your character? There are so many variables, it can be a lot to take in and nowadays most people don’t know too much about ‘suit rules’. That’s fine, since generally these rules are flexible and in many ways they’ve been broken or bent in modern times. When drawing a suit it’s important to pay attention to the details though: the shoulders, the lapels, the vents, the breast cuts and button etiquette. You must know your basics first! And then you can feel free to arse the rules! Let’s get started!
The profile of the suit, the length and width of it, is heavily reliant on the height and weight of your character. Shorter, squatter men want to accentuate the vertical line, so they should wear straighter cuts and shorter coats. Tall, skinny men need just the opposite: a slight nip in the waist to break up the long tall shape of their body and a slightly longer coat.
Before we jump into the 3 cuts of shoulders, let’s talk about length for a short while, (pardon the pun). There’s a saying that a good suit jacket is like a good lawyer: it should always cover your ass. This is a very American thing (and American style suits are typically the most common) This also applies more to suit jackets or sports coats than with blazers (I’ll discuss the differences later). Shorter coats tend to look young, hip, and modern. However, for the standard cut, the jacket should end about where your thumb joint meets your hand with your arms by your side. Italians tend to get away with slightly shorter coats with a nice trim waist and the slightest peek of fanny. How flashy.
Also referred to by tailors as the ‘natural shoulder’. There is little to no padding and it slopes gently around the frame of the shoulders. The waist cut itself can be a little more relaxed and straighter than the other two cuts. “Relaxed” by the way is NEVER BAGGY. Don’t draw a suit with too many soft wrinkles, it looks awful.
These suits have a bit more British stiffness to them, with additional padding in the shoulder, it is usually accompanied by a nipped, fitted waist.
Also called the “roped shoulder”, with a slightly more pronounced bump at the seam of the sleeves. The Italians like it sharp, cutting, and sleek. The waist is also usually quite trim and the length can be slightly shorter than the other two, where Snookie’s longest pair of shorts might end.
Again, there are 3 styles of lapels: the notched lapel, the peaked lapel, and the shawl lapel. A good lapel should roll to a finish, not crease. Another variable is width. Currently, narrow lapels are “in” and have a fresh, modern look, while very wide lapels can look very dated or 70s. A good rule of thumb is that a lapel should be as wide as the tie, if not the exact same width, then at least very close. There should be a dialogue between the two pieces.
The notched lapel, or “step lapel” is the most common, the most versatile, and a timeless classic, good for most occasions. The notch should be at collarbone level to catch the eye and bring attention to the face. Again, a suit is all about balance though, so a very tall man would drop the notches down slightly to break up his blank middle portion.
The peaked, or pointed (if you’re European) lapel is often reserved for formal settings such as weddings, birthdays, galas, etc. The peaks communicate a certain amount of excitement and panache. Many people think the peaked lapel belongs only on tuxedos, but I’m inclined to think it can be worn more and more on other kinds of suits and with a variety of fabrics for that extra flair. You’ll almost always see this lapel type on double breasted cuts.
This is the least common of suit collars and might be reserved for relaxed evening dinners. It gives the wearer a calm and controlled impression, often found on tuxedos or smoking jackets. Though it can be found on tuxedos it should be considered slightly less formal than the peaked lapel equivalent. This is the only kind of lapel that does not have a button hole.