British vs American vs Italian suits 830x430

The Definitive Guide: British vs American vs Italian Suits

In today’s globalised fashion world, it’s impossible to imagine that any single country can invent and then ring-fence a tailoring style for long. But let’s not forget that men’s suits are steeped in tradition and their features developed over time, always adapting to circumstances and the requirements of the men that wore them. Throughout the years, three distinctive schools of suit tailoring emerged: the British, the American and the Italian.

In the 19th century, the Prince of Wales commissioned Henry Poole of Savile Row to design a tail-less jacket. This eventually led to the formation of the British suit which is structured, fairly rigid and inspired by military uniforms. In the early 20th century, U.S.-based Brooks Brothers offered their customers cheaper suits that were mass-produced. This required some tailoring adjustments which gave birth to the American suit. Finally, Italy always had a distinctive style and in the 1950s a number of fashion houses emerged with a characteristic Italian style which was better suited to the Mediterranean weather and temperament.

Needless to say, successful details were eventually adopted around the world so, if you want to identify the style that a particular suit belongs to, you will need to look for a combination of features. To make things easier for you, we’ve gathered the main points in a table.

Differences between British, American and Italian suits

British American Italian
Fit
Structured, narrow Loose, baggy Unstructured, slim
Canvas
Stiff Light, if any Light
Jacket
Single or double breasted Single breasted with 2-3 buttons Single or double  breasted, shorter and with intense v-shape
Shoulders
Heavy padding Natural (little or no padding) Light padding
Lapels
Low gorge High gorge
Sleeves
Narrow with high armholes and functional buttons Loose with low armholes and three non-functional buttons High armholes and very slim
Vents
Double Single None or double
Jacket pockets
Slanted with flaps and a ticket pocket Flap Jetted
Trousers
High waist, 2-3 pleats, quarter or half-break Full cut, not pleated, full break Tapered waist and hips, little or no break

If you find that some of the terms in the table are new to you, read our blogs on the anatomy of jackets and trousers which will give you an A to Z of suit terminology.

Now that you understand the differences between British, American and Italian suits, we are sure you will see the key British characteristics of Aristocracy London suits, which make them suitable for work and play. Browse our latest collection and sign up to our newsletter for regular style and etiquette updates served directly to your inbox.