Some people regard the UK to be the mecca of bespoke tailoring. And, we might be a tad biased, but we completely agree. Over the centuries, our island nation has contributed a lot to the development of the modern suit. But do you know what makes a British suit truly ‘British’? And did you know that English monarchs made the modern lounge suit famous?
In this article, we explain why – in our opinion – British suits are the best, from its history to its style and place in today’s world.
What makes the British suit different?
Nowadays, of course, suits are very diverse in design. British tailors take inspiration from overseas, and vice versa. But one style feature of a quintessentially British suit is the drape, which essentially gives you a more muscular appearance than other suit nationalities.
Drape suits first appeared in Britain during the 1930s, with drape referring to the way in which the jacket is cut (it’s commonly known as the London Cut). Features like a slightly nipped waist, extra fabric in the armscye and shoulder, and sleeves tapered at the waist create a ‘V’ figure, giving an illusion of broad shoulders. Want to look as sleek as James Bond? You need a drape suit.
The royals that made suits famous and compulsory
It wasn’t until the late 19th century that the modern lounge suit became standard attire, especially with the elites. But this British suit traces its origins to the 17th century, when King Charles II popularised something similar. In fact, he mandated that all men attending an English Court must wear a waistcoat, long coat, knee breeches, a cravat (similar to a necktie), a hat, and a wig.
Are the Brits better than the Italians at tailoring suits?
Which nation has created the best suit is up for debate, but it all depends on your preferred style. The Italians are certainly well-known for their design flair. Plenty of designer brands from Italy can be considered global trendsetters. But as for suits? Well, do you want to look slim and clean or sophisticated and masculine?
Some say the classic Italian suit, with its overall slimmer fit, shorter jackets and non-existent pocket flaps, are ‘sexier’. But the British suit is steeped in military tradition. And who doesn’t want to look a little broader?
Can anybody wear a British suit?
Perhaps the best thing about the British suit is that it’s a perfect fit for just about anybody. Heavyset men might prefer the slimmer Italian alternative, but if you’re a little slim and want to accentuate your body’s pros, you should definitely opt for a British suit.
The Mecca of British suit tailoring
London is home to an iconic bespoke tailoring street named Savile Row, a place where the rich and famous head to revamp their wardrobes. Notable tailors that are internationally regarded include Henry Poole & Co, Richard James, and Cad & The Dandy, but there are at least a dozen more.
While you’re visiting, check out the Apple headquarters at 3 Savile Row. The Beatles played their final ever gig here on the rooftop in front of thousands of fans.