We are now strolling in the street believed to have given birth to the traditional British suit. A street that signifies the British influence in traditional bespoke men’s tailoring.

Built in the 1700s, and named after Lady Dorothy Savile, the street was meant for the high political class and military elite of those times.

As you can easily imagine, the witty British merchants of luxurious goods saw this very street as a golden opportunity.

And in no time, literally everything those wealthy officers and politicians might have needed could be found just around the corner of their majestic dwelling in Savile Row.

Obviously, amongst the luxurious goods of the mid 19th century, we find the finest men’s garments provided by the greatest bespoke tailors.
One of them changed the course of men’s fashion irremediably.

He was at number 37, Savile Row. The atelier of Henry Poole, father of the otherwise know as British style.

In the second half of the 1800s, Sir Poole, under the commission of the Prince of Wales, created a tailless smoking jacket made out of the same fabric of a tailcoat. The garment is also referred to as the dinner jacket. The vision of the Prince of Wales, together with the creative mind of a skilled tailor, slowly changed what was considered formal wear amongst an extremely traditional high class.

The dinner jacket, and, of course, the whole new suit style they created, had a set of unique characteristics that persisted through time, were passed from generation to generation arriving in our wardrobes under the label “British style”. This is one the greatest examples of timeless style.

But allow me now go into some details of a traditional British suit. I’ll be sharing with you some of the fundamental details that will allow you to recognize a British cut immediately.

The Jacket

We’re looking at a very structured and highly tailored garment. The structure is emphasized by defined shoulders, which also feature thick shoulder pads. The canvas is stiff, thus giving the jacket a very controlled look as opposed to a lighter canvas that would follow the natural curves of the body.

The fit is tailored to be close to the body, with close fitting sleeves ending with the so-called surgeon’s cuffs and a high armhole. The front of the jacket is adorned with a low type of gorge lines and ticket pockets.

The garment comes in heavy cloth, which makes the jacket very functional in the terrific Royal weather. You can also see it single, or double breasted, with usually two vents.

You need to remember that the jacket was meant for a military elite and noble British class of the mid 19th century. And a structured jacket was the standard of formality at the time.

An element that signified the social status of the person (or family) wearing it and that was closely related to the even older and more traditional uniform. Despite all the innovative elements of the jacket (e.g. no tail, single-breasted etc.), Sir Poole kept one traditional element to its design and created a balanced combination of old (and established) and new (and revolutionary).

The Pants

Obviously, abundance was an element that the wealthy class of Savile Row did not fear at all. And if we had to describe the pant of British suit with one word, that word would be indeed abundance.

 

We’re looking at a garment cut out of a generous amount of fabric. Two elements are really iconic of the suit: high waist and up to 3 pleats, which – if you are not familiar – is a fold created by doubling fabric on itself and securing it in place.

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