Primer’s Visual Guide to Understanding Common Suit Features

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • Andy

    Great post! Simple and to the point. I’m going to print this off and keep it with me in case I need to check when I go shopping next.

  • Andrew

    Been waiting for a post like this. Thank you!

  • James

    Great post! Question on the vents: I myself tend to go for the center vent because it seems (to me) a little more streamlined, especially with a more modern fitting, tailored suit. Yet I have friends who swear by side vents. Is one more preferable, or totally just up to the wearer’s physique?

  • Christopher

    Awesome post here gents, was totally needed!

  • CJ

    Awesome post!! My first suit was charcoal but I’m thinking now navy should be the next one I purchase, or would gray be more versatile?

  • Chris Reetz

    I needed this nine months ago when I bought my first suit.

  • Will

    Flat front pants are still pleated in the legs, just not in the thigh. Not sure if the picture shows that very well. This concept confused the crap out of me for the longest time haha.

    @James: I think a reason for choosing side vents is that they’re less restrictive when moving. I read people saying it helps when sitting, but I found it most beneficial when putting my hand in my pocket.

  • Bolo Yolo

    I like this article alot. I have the same ideas in mind and now I know how to buy and find the best suit now. That V shape in the suit is the most powerful part of the suit. You gotta have that V and it should be outstanding. For me, it makes the suit. And the pant leg should drape over the shoe. From top to bottom, the suit should be impeccable.

  • buckedy

    Really? Grey & blue are ‘starred’ over the classic black? I thought black is/was and always will be the bees-knees and a colour to fall back on for almost every occasion?
    Lemme know if you disagree and why? I’d be curious to know a different opinion.


    • RI84

      After reading countless articles to find the best suit options I have never seen a recommendation made for a black suit unless you work in retail or are going to a funeral.

  • Grant

    @Bukedy – Thanks for your comment. This is unfortunately a common question and in my years of being in the menswear industry I’m still searching for where this comes from. Black is only considered classic and the color of choice for formal events and fro social affairs after 6pm. Navy and gray are much more versatile for business and leisure. Black is harsh against many skin tones, has no life, and can take on a green tinge under artificial light.

    Black of course is the first choice for tuxedos and the like, but it is no wonder why the most formal attire are white tails and the gray morning coat comes in a close second. Midnight blue is actually looks better under natural and artificial light and is an overwhelmingly more stylish option.

    It is a common misconception that black is the end all, be all go-to color. it is not as slimming as people think, it fades easily and can take on a sheen after too many washings and/or dry cleaning’s. Navy and gray are indeed better choices overall.

  • Jessy

    Something I always wondered : Why do they make jackets with low armholes ? What’s the point of these ?

  • Andrew


    It has to do with who they’re making the suit for. Off the rack suits, especially cheaper ones, are made in an attempt to fit as many people as possible, lower armholes can accomodate more sizes.

  • Brock

    This is why I love Primer. Awesome visual guide! To all the shorter guys, watch that button stance and make sure opt for slim lapels (unless you’re stout…then thin lapels will make you look wider).


  • Michael

    Outstanding article Andrew, thanks a lot.

    I’ll be buying my first suit in the next few weeks before I move to a big city (recent grad), this helps a lot.

    Any advice on styles or brands for a smaller guy? I’m about 5’9″, 150 pounds and slim- I need a more modern, fitted suit that keeps me from looking like a kid in his dad’s clothes, and it’s been hard for me to find dress clothes that fit. In particular, I can’t stand billowy trousers

  • valtism

    Where is charcoal in the colour list? I think that a charcoal would be far preferable to a grey suit.

  • Diana

    I am a “more mature” woman and was very pleased to see this post…on my Grandson’s page….glad to see there is an interest in presenting a more business like appearance among the young men of today.

    Many of the guidelines I was aware of and a few that I wasn’t. I would have liked to see the addition of the lower pant finish ie: cuff/no cuff and break. Also the sleeve length in relationship to shirt sleeve.

    I realize this guide is directed to ready wear but some alterations may be included in the purchase.

    Now that I have found this site, I will investigate it more…thank you

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  • Dave Reynolds

    Let me add to everyone’s complements. This is some great information and I’m glad that we at 7 Regent Lane had a small hand in helping get it out.

    I wanted to let you know that if anyone is in the market for a suit, 7RL is conducting a Kickstarter campaign to expand our products. In return for support we have some great offers on our products. Please check it out if your’e so inclined.

  • http://Facebook Szareina

    Thank you so much for sharing this information. I am always looking to grasp more knowledge on style, versality and product information. This buildts my confidence and I’m well prepared for my customer. Please share more post like this one.

  • Me

    If the fifth button of the vest “should always remain undone” what is the point of having that fifth button?

    • Michael

      The reason you leave the fifth button undone on your vest is the same reason you leave the bottom button undone on a 2 button suit and keep the top and bottom button undone on a 3 button suit: its about style

  • Miles to Code

    Great article. The one thing that was missing is cuffs vs. no cuffs on the pants. Cuffs are classic but they may not be for everybody.

    • DefNotes

      Good one!

  • Calgary Computer Repair

    I don’t own a suit, but at least now I know what to look for!

  • Biro Nællan
  • David

    Pants should be cuffed if they are pleated.  Not cuffed if they are flat front.

    • billie

      flat front if you’re under 40 yrs old & pleaded front if you’re over 40

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  • Michael

    Great article! We didn’t know there were so many different ways a suit can be put together, plus some great simple illustrations. Definitely looking here first before I go buy my next suit.

    Michael –

  • pankaj

    very nice post though…this post has encouraged me to have a i’ll have to first earn some money…then things can be achieved…

  • bob

    are double breasted sport jackets fashionable now?

  • Cary Davis

    Dang this is a great post!

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  • One Gentleman

    Exceptional post. The one thing a gentleman must understand, besides etiquette, integrity, etc…how to select the right suit. This may seem like common knowledge, but purchasing a suit is only one step of the process. You should have an understanding for fabrics, button placement, sleeve length, etc. This article receives 5/5 in my opinion. Exceptional work

  • Dbakeca Italia

    Something I always wondered : Why do they make jackets with low armholes ? What’s the point of these ?!

  • Robert

    This is guide is just impressive, especially for beginners who are looking for a tips to wear the suit the first or second time. This guide would be even good if you could have mentioned bit tips for double breasted suits! Thanks for sharing it with us.

    Tom Cruise Nlue Tuxedo

  • David

    Certainly one of the best visual guides I have seen ever, great for any suit beginner, this guide could be even more fantastic if you can highligh about the trouser’s breaks, and jacket cuffs including gauntlet, and working!
    Regards –

  • acgogo

    Guys, pull down the back of the suit jacket when you sit down so it doesn’t hoist up around the neck.

    Also, no pleats! Didn’t we have enough ugly pleated pants during the 80s?