American vs. English vs. Italian Suits- Understanding Suit Styles

Looking at the differences between the Italian, British, and American suit styles, each has its unique geographic characteristics. This article explores the three iconic garments of men’s fashion. You might be aware of the existence of these three styles already. But after reading all through, you will get to understand a great deal of importance about each of them. This will be in terms of the historical background of these international suit styles and their features.

Italian Suit Style

A man wearing an Italian suit style

The Historical Background

Italian suit style grew immensely into a great idea in the 1950s when the first fashion show held at the Palazzo Pitti showcased the Italian suit for the first time. Many names are believed to have played a significant role in the design of the Italian suit as we know it today. Some remarkable names are Ermenegildo Zegna, Nazareno Fonticoli (founder of Brioni), and Armani. The Italian suit has evolved in many styles over the years. Italian cut suits have maintained their popularity in Europe and across the world today.

The Features of Italian Suits

The Italian suits are highly tailored and fit close to the body. The jacket is lightly padded and fitted through the chest with a very slight contour at the waist, giving a more streamlined appearance. The jacket is considerably less structured compared to the English suit, and as a result of that, the cloth follows one’s natural curves. It has high armholes and very little shoulder padding. It also features narrow-cut lapels, a more pronounced V-shaped torso, and piped pockets.
The suit trousers have a tapered waist, which fits firmly to the hips and goes slightly from the knee down. The front is flat and ends with one break. Recently, a no-break type of trousers has been common in the Italian style.
This suit is ideal for men with slimmer builds because when all these elements come together, it gives the illusion of a well-proportioned, slim frame.


British Suit Styles

A man wearing a British suit style

The Origin of British Suits

The British suit style traces its origins to one of menswear’s famous grounds called Savile Row. The trendy lounge suit appeared in the late 19th century but traces its origins to the simplified, sartorial standard of dress that was established by the English king Charles II in the 17th century. To date, this famous London street is synonymous with bespoke tailoring, thanks in large part to innovative designs. These suits were made for elites in the military and British nobility, which is why the jackets are well known for having defined shoulders with thick shoulder pads.

The Features of a British Suit

The suit jacket is made to fit perfectly on the shoulder around your torso. The sleeve ends at, or just above, the wrist bone when your arm is at rest, showing about half an inch of your shirt. And the length of your suit jacket slightly goes down to cover the bottom curvature of the buttocks. The front of the British suit jacket is often adorned with a ticket pocket, while a double vent distinguishes the back. One of its unique features is the thick shoulder padding the suit is made of.
The trousers are tailored close to the body with a tapered waist. These trousers take a comfortable middle-of-the-road stance that is not too tight or too loose. The trousers are slim with a high waist and pleats and are usually worn with a quarter or half break.


The American Suit Style

A man wearing an American suit style


History of the American Suit

The American suit has evolved and can trace its roots far back to the 1920s. This was during the prosperous and iconic time for America caused by the expansive economic boom. The American suit, also called the sack suit, was popular due to its loose, comfortable fit. Although the name “sack” was meant to recall the French sacque jacket, which was built on two entirely straight panels, it came to be applied as a negative comment on the way the suit fit. The very first tailors of these suit styles were Brooks Brothers and J. Press.

Features of American Suits

The American suit style is characterised by its baggy, masculine silhouette and straight-cut jacket. The American suit jackets are straight-cut with a relatively loose fit and soft silhouette that pairs with light shoulder pads. It has loose sleeves and low armholes. They come in various lengths, with the addition of vents, and the jacket pockets may be jetted or straight.
The suit trousers are usually flat-fronted and straight-legged. The fabric extends to the ankles with mostly full breaks.
The loose, shapeless fit of these American suits still influences most of what is seen in major department stores in the United States. This suit could accommodate various body types, making it ideal for mass production.

Now that we’ve explored the traditional Italian, British, and American suit styles, let’s delve into how these classic forms can be adapted for various occasions. Whether you’re stepping into a boardroom or walking down the wedding aisle, the right suit can make all the difference.

Men’s Suit Styles: From Boardroom to Wedding Aisle

The Importance of Suits in Business

When it comes to business settings, the importance of a well-tailored suit cannot be overstated. A suit not only communicates professionalism but can also serve as a tool for personal branding. The colours, cuts, and styles you choose reflect your personality and can help set you apart in a crowded business landscape. Whether you’re closing a deal or making a presentation, the right men’s suit styles create an impression of competence and trustworthiness.

The Perfect Wedding Suit

A groom wearing a bespoke wedding suit

Selecting a suit for your wedding or someone else’s requires attention to detail. Unlike a regular business suit, a wedding suit allows for more personal flair. Considerations like the season, location, and wedding theme are crucial. Typically, lighter fabrics like linen are excellent for summer weddings, while wool or tweed suits are more fitting for colder seasons. Your choice of colour can range from traditional black or navy to more adventurous options like charcoal grey or a subtle pattern. The key is to match or complement the wedding’s colour scheme while staying true to your style.

Transitional Styles

With some strategic planning, the same suit can work in both business and casual settings. Changing your shirt, tie, or accessories can drastically alter a suit’s overall vibe. For instance, a navy suit can transition from a business meeting to a wedding reception with a simple switch from a formal tie to a playful pocket square. Add cufflinks for an added touch of sophistication, or go tie-less for a more relaxed but still put-together look.

Modern Suit Styles for the Contemporary Gentleman

The unstructured suit has been gaining traction, especially among younger professionals. Unlike traditional suits, which are built with internal canvassing and more padding, unstructured suits are lighter and offer a more relaxed fit, making them both comfortable and stylish. They are particularly suited for less formal offices and creative fields.

A young professional wearing a modern suit style in a co-working space filled with green plants.

In addition, the traditional business suit has been somewhat demoted in industries like tech, where comfort and ease often take precedence over formality. Inspired by this laid-back approach, modern suit styles now often include features like softer fabrics, stretchable material, and minimalistic design, making them a practical yet fashionable choice for the digital age.

Furthermore, the fashion industry has been under scrutiny for its environmental impact, leading to a rise in sustainable, eco-friendly suits. Modern suit styles increasingly feature organic cotton, recycled polyester, or even hemp. This shift doesn’t just appeal to the environmentally-conscious consumer; it also brings along benefits like durability and comfort.

While modern suits offer a fresh take on a timeless classic, you might wonder how to push the envelope further to fit more casual settings. Let’s shift gears and explore how to dress down your suit without sacrificing style or sophistication.

Casual Suit Styles: How to Dress Down Your Suit

Casual suits offer a relaxed yet refined look perfect for social outings or less formal work environments. The key to achieving this style is the choice of fabric and colour. Cotton and linen suits in brighter shades or softer hues are typically more casual. You can pair these with a crew-neck tee or a casual button-down shirt to maintain a laid-back look.

A young man wearing a light beige, cotton-linen blend suit.

For instance, navigating a casual Friday while wearing a suit can be a balancing act. The trick is to maintain a level of professionalism while letting your personality shine. A casual suit, when paired with a crisp polo shirt or a simple, solid-colour t-shirt, can make you look relaxed yet put-together. Swap out the leather dress shoes for loafers or clean white sneakers for the ultimate casual Friday ensemble.

To fully embrace the casual suit style, focus on accessories. Opt for a minimalistic watch, a casual belt, or even a beaded bracelet. These add a touch of casual flair to your outfit, making it evident that your suit is meant for casual settings. Pocket squares and lapel pins can also add character without making you look overly formal.


Suits have been a cornerstone of men’s fashion for centuries, serving as a universal symbol of professionalism, style, and sophistication. From the classic Italian, British, and American cuts to the diverse scenarios they adapt to—be it boardrooms or weddings—suits have come a long way. The modern era has further opened up a plethora of options, from unstructured styles to eco-friendly materials. And for those who think suits are reserved for formal occasions, casual suit styles offer a relaxed yet refined look that’s perfect for any setting.

Ready to step up your suit game? Whether you’re dressing for success in the boardroom, stealing the spotlight at a wedding, or keeping it casual for a weekend outing, the right suit is out there for you. To get started with the creation of your bespoke suit, Hidalgo Brothers are here to assist you in achieving that desired suit. So, which suit will you commence with? British, American, or Italian suits? For more information, contact us.


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Common Questions:

1. What are the main differences between Italian, British, and American suit styles?

The primary differences lie in the fit, structure, and design. Italian suits are tailored closely to the body, featuring high armholes and minimal shoulder padding. British suits, on the other hand, are more structured with thicker shoulder padding and defined shoulders. American suits offer a looser fit with light shoulder pads and are more forgiving around the waist. These characteristics make each style unique and suited for different body types and occasions.

2. How did Italian suits gain popularity?

The Italian suit gained immense recognition during the 1950s when the first fashion show at Palazzo Pitti showcased it. Designers like Ermenegildo Zegna, Nazareno Fonticoli (founder of Brioni), and Armani have played significant roles in its evolution. The Italian suit has maintained its popularity for its highly tailored design and fit that follows one’s natural curves.

3. What is the historical background of the British suit?

The English suit traces its origins to Savile Row in London, known for its bespoke tailoring. The modern lounge suit emerged in the late 19th century but has roots going back to the dress standards set by English King Charles II in the 17th century. Initially crafted for the military and British nobility, the English-made suit is famous for its structured design and defined shoulders.

4. Why is the American suit often called a “sack suit”?

The American suit, often termed a “sack suit,” gained prominence in the 1920s. The name “sack” was originally meant to recall the French “sacque” jacket, which was built on two straight panels. However, over time, it became a comment on the loose, less structured fit of the American suit style. Prominent tailors like Brooks Brothers and J. Press were among the first to popularise this style.

5. Which suit style is most appropriate for my body type?

If you have a slimmer build, Italian suits, with their close fit and tapered design, may flatter you best. If you’re broader-shouldered, you might find the structured British style more comfortable and flattering. The American style, with its looser fit, is versatile and may suit various body types. It’s always best to try on different styles and consult with a skilled tailor to find the suit that best fits your physique.