Classic two button, single breasted suit with side vents at the back.

Classic two button, single breasted suit with side vents at the back.

As early as the 1920’s the single breasted suit has been in fashion.  Certainly, it has gone through many changes over the years in terms of fit.  Early on they were tight fitting, then around 1935 they became loose fitting and in the 1970’s became tight fitting again.  It seems at present the trend is back to slimmer fitting, single breasted suits. 

There is more than one type of style of single breasted suit, also known as the “SB “ suit.  Most of the styles have to do with how many buttons and what style of lapel is designed into the jacket.  

In my many years in men’s fashion I have been able to see many of these different styles come and go.  The most classic has always been the two button, single breasted suit.  Whether it was a suit from Canali, Zegna or Hugo Boss the classic design chosen by most men was the two button “SB.”   Mostly, in this model, the lapel that was closely associated with the two button was another classic.  The notch lapel is often the most chosen lapel by small and large shops.  Here we have a vision of the most classic suit being sold today.  The two button single breasted notch lapel suit.  There are other variations that pertain to the vents at the back of the jacket and if there are flaps on the pockets.  These items tend to always be around even if one is more fashionable than the other.  In today’s times side vented suits have been more prevalent for the past ten years.  Center vented suits are easily purchased in many stores as well.  Side vents are my personal preference, being that the suit tends to form better to the body when moving, sitting and walking.  Still in the “SB” mode are a few more designs that are not as easily found these days.

The three button single breasted suit has an upper button equidistant from the center button and lower button.  In the mid 1990’s this button was usually buttoned along with the center button since suits had the lapels more pressed down at the top button.  Nowadays, this upper button on a three button “SB”, may have a natural roll to it so it can be part of a rolling lapel.  There is no need to button this button, effectively making a three button suit jacket into what is called a “three roll over to a two.”  I have heard the expression a “two and a half button”, but there is no such thing in men’s suits. 

The Nehru collar or Mandarin collar suit jacket has had its place in men’s suit jackets history.  I remember when Gianni Versace was alive. One of Versace’s signature suits that did sell very well was a Nehru collar.  It was very high fashion for the early 1990’s.  The Versace suits had gold colored buttons all the way up the front.  It was screaming Versace when someone would walk toward you.  The Nehru is a single breasted suit that has buttons from the bottom of the jacket all the way up to the neck.  There isn’t any lapel and no room to wear a tie.  There is only a stand up one inch band around the neck.  Influences for this type of suit jacket came from the former Prime Minister of India in the 1940’s in addition to Chinese influence. 

There is a single breasted suit with only one button to close.  Italian designers were showing one button suits in the early to mid 1990’s.  This model frequently came with peak lapels and was a design that came from the tuxedo and was moved into suits.  A one button single breasted suit is difficult to find today, but is readily available in a tuxedo or smoking jacket.  The peak lapel is the opposite of the notch lapel.  Instead of a triangular cut out as in the notch, the peak rises up to a point on both lapels.  The peak lapel is usually found on a double breasted suit, but today it is now popular as a two button, single breasted, peak lapel suit with side vents and flap pockets.   With these many designs for one type of jacket you may think it hard to find some that are no longer popular or in style.  That would be true since stores would no longer wish to carry outdated styles.  The internet has fixed all that.

What do you wear?  Comment below on what your preferred style of suit jacket fits you best.