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Why British tailoring is so unique

15 April 2015

There are generally said to be 3 different types of mens’ suit: British, American, and European (by which we mean Italian). Each of these 3 suit styles offer a few subtle differences in terms of their cut. At Fielding and Nicholson, we favour British cut suits but we thought we’d offer this overview of the approach taken by these other styles:

The American suit

American suits offer a looser cut which offers greater comfort if perhaps less style. Trousers are full cut without pleats. These suits have a single vent (opening or slit) at the back, compared to 2 on the British suit. Armholes are higher and there is almost no padding on the shoulder, making for a more natural look and softer silhouette. Critics complain the suits are a bit boxy and certainly less flattering, although fans find them more comfortable to wear for long periods.

The European suit

When we talk of the European suit we tend to be referring to Italian tailoring. Italian tailors produce beautiful slim-cut, modern and fashionable mens’ suits which offer a streamlined silhouette and a close fit against the body, especially on the hips. Nowadays Italian suits tend to offer 2 vents at the back of the jacket; historically they had none. Jackets tend to be relatively short with padded shoulders.

You’ll notice the pockets don’t have flaps and the buttons are attached rather higher than they would be on a British or American suit. Perhaps for obvious reasons, Italian suits are usually in lighter-weight fabrics than your standard British-made suit – woollen tweed tends not to be popular in hot countries!

You’ll find distinctly different suits are produced by tailors in different parts of Italy but they tend to share the same snug fit. Critics will argue that the Italian suit tends to favour only those blessed with a slim willowy figure and can be rather unkind to those who enjoy large quantities of pasta.

British suits

The suits we produce at Fielding and Nicholson favour the style known as ‘British traditional’. These suits tend to work well on men of average build as they are flattering without being too slim fitting or baggy.

British suits offer a well-structured jacket with 2 vents at the back (very good for horse riding) and a heavier cloth than either the American or Italian suit. Our aim is to offer a fitted look via clever tailoring to give shape without trendiness and provide a timeless appeal.



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