Welcome to Bespoke Unit’s Suit Glossary.

With over 100 suiting-related terms, you’ll find definitions here, as well as links to further information on select topics.

How To Use Our Suit Glossary

Find A Term: Click on any letter in the “Alphabet Key” below in order to jump to that letter’s section in the glossary.

Learn A New Term: You may come across a new word or phrase while reading a definition. Click on any word or phrase that is linked for a full definition.

Explore Suit Topics: “Learn More” sections appear after many definitions, allowing you to read an in-depth resource on the topic.

Anything Missing? If you can’t find the word you’re after, just leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you!

Tuxedo Jacket getting tailors pins inserted

Select a letter below to jump down to its entries!


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3×2

A type of three-button, single-breasted jacket in which the top buttonhole is technically functional, but not intended to be buttoned. Common on sport coats, particularly preppy ones.


4×1

A double-breasted button stance in which there are four total buttons, one of which is functional. Also known as a “Kent” model.


4×2

A double-breasted button stance in which there are four total buttons, two of which are functional.


6×1

A double-breasted button stance in which there are six total buttons, one of which is functional.


6×2

A double-breasted button stance in which there are six total buttons, one of which is functional.


A

A Dente

See notch lapel.


Alteration Hand

A professional specializing in making modifications to existing articles of clothing, rather than creating garments from scratch. See bushelman.


Armscye

A corruption of the phrase “arm’s eye,” this refers to the armhole of the jacket.


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B

Baby

A stuffed cloth pad on which a tailor works his/her cloth.


Balance

Adjustment of the lengths of the front and back panels of a jacket so that they sit harmoniously in relation to the wearer’s posture.


Band Collar

A shirt or jacket collar which stands up straight instead of turning down. Because of this, it lacks collar points.

Learn More: Dress Shirt Collar Styles


Banger

Piece of wood with a handle used to draw out steam and smooth cloth during ironing.


Barchetta

An Italian term that refers to the curved breast pocket often found on suits from that country. Means “little boat.”


Basted Fitting

An intermediary fitting (often the second of three) during the bespoke or custom process.


Belt Loops

Self-colored pieces of fabric sewn onto the outside of a trouser waistband to keep a belt in place.


Bemberg

A material commonly used in jacket linings. Often mistaken for silk, it is in fact an unusually fine rayon first produced in the early twentieth century.


Besom

A flapless pocket found on jackets our trousers. Often referred to as “besom pockets” and also known as “jet pockets.”


Bespoke

Term referring to a garment that has been made almost entirely by hand based on a pattern created exclusively for the customer, often with the stipulation that 50 hours of handwork are necessary to earn the title “bespoke”. The Savile Row Bespoke Association also states that the suit must be made on or around Savile Row itself to be considered truly bespoke.

Derived from the phrase “been spoken for,” in reference to a particular cloth.


Birdseye

A fabric pattern of small repeating circle or diamond shapes which resemble the eye of a bird.

Learn More: Suit Patterns: Birdseye


Black Tie

A formal dress code for functions later than 6 p.m.

Learn More: Guide To The Black Tie Dress Code


Blazer

A solid-colored odd jacket with metal buttons, the archetype of which is a navy 6×2 DB. Based on the reefer jacket, it has nautical origins and was originally used as wear for regattas and were so bold that they were referred to as a “blaze” of color.


Board

A tailor’s workbench.


Buff

A very pale brown or tan color, appearing in, e.g, morning coats.


Burgundy

A dark red, nearly brown, taking its name from the French wine.


Bushelman

A tailor who performs alterations and repairs but doesn’t make clothes.


Button

A circular piece of material that fastens two sides of a jacket, trousers, or waistcoat. Commonly made in horn, mother-of-pearl, plastic, wood, corozo, and leather.


Button Stance

Refers to both the number of buttons on a jacket or waistcoat and their placement relative to the wearer’s navel.

Learn More: What Is Button Stance & Why It’s Important


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C

Canvas

A material used in between a jacket’s lining and outer fabric to give it shape and longevity. Often made of horse hair and linen.


Cash Pocket

See ticket pocket.


Check

A pattern of squares.

Learn More: Suit Patterns: Checks


Chevron

A pattern that uses v-shapes that are both interlocking and horizontally adjacent. This gives it a zig-zag appearance when viewed close up, distinct from herringbone.


Cloth

Synonym for “fabric.”


CMT

Abbreviation of “cut, make, and trim,” which refers to the labor portion of suit making price structures (the other portion being cloth).


Coat

A suit jacket.


Coin Pocket

A small trouser pocket that sits flush against the bottom of the right side of the waistband. Made for holding coins but is mostly decorative.


Collar

The portion of a jacket that sits around the back of the wearer’s neck against a shirt collar.


Con Rollino

An Italian term describing a type of Neopolitan suit shoulder which has a narrow, slightly puckered sleeve head and is typically left unpadded. See also: pagoda shoulder.


Construction

The specific method by which a suit is made: fused, half canvas, or full canvas.


Cravate Noire

See black tie.


Crown

The top of the sleeve head.


Cuff

“Turn ups” in British English, this refers to trouser bottoms whose material has been folded over onto itself. Typically 1.25″ thick, they add weight to trouser bottoms and aide in their drape.


Cummerbund

A wide sash worn around the waist with black tie attire, under the dinner jacket.

Learn More: Cummerbunds Guide


Custom

A suit making process similar to bespoke insofar as it requires full canvas construction and a customer-exclusive pattern, but doesn’t necessarily require a minimum level of handwork.


Cutter

A clothing professional who takes clients’ initial measurements and then creates a paper pattern from which the cloth is cut or “struck.”


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D

Dart

A seam created on a jacket front to give it additional shape.


Dinner Jacket

British English for black tie attire. Known in America as a “tuxedo.”

Learn More: A Guide To Tuxedos


Double-Breasted

A type of jacket in which one front panel covers up a great deal of the other when worn. Classically worn with side vents and peak lapels.


Dove Grey

A medium grey, variously with a touch of red or blue, which is a traditional color for morning coats.


E

Eighth Lining

A minimalist way to line a jacket in which only the front of each jacket panel is lined. Best for warm-weather suits.


Esmóquin

A Spanish corruption of the word “smoking.” Refers to a smoking jacket.


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F

Facing

An extra piece of fabric on a garment’s edge which protects and hides the seams.


Fishmouth

In a step collar, a small-size notch.

Learn More: What Is The Notch Lapel?


Fishtail

A type of trouser back with two raised peaks where the buttons fasten.


Flat Front

A style of trouser without pleats.


Forward Pleats

Trouser pleats that face the fly. Also know as inward pleats.


French Facing

A facing that is part of the same piece of fabric as the lapel. This is common in both unlined and partially-lined jackets.


Full Canvas

The highest quality (and most expensive) suit construction method in which the canvas interlining extends the entire length of the jacket, giving it better longevity and drape.


Fused Canvas

The lowest quality (and least expensive) suit construction method in which the canvas is glued to the fabric and is often only found in the chest area.


Fusing

A term that refers to gluing two pieces of a garment together. Saves time and money but sacrifices quality.


French Facing

A facing that is part of the same piece of fabric as the lapel. This is common in both unlined and partially-lined jackets.


French Fly

In trousers, an interior button tab which releases tension from the main buttons and zipper of the fly.


Frog

A braided ornamental closure occasionally appearing on dinner jackets and traditional military dress uniforms.


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G

Gabardine

Tightly-woven woolen or cotton fabric with a diagonal rib texture on one side, using more warp than weft yarns. Because of its toughness, tailors use this as lining when heavy wear is expected, such as in pockets.

Learn More: Men’s Suit Fabric Types


Gingham

A cotton fabric of medium weight, especially in a check or plaid pattern.


Gorge

The place at which a jacket’s collar and lapel meet. Gorge height (or placement relative the the collarbone) changes with fashion every decade or so.


Grosgrain

A fabric with a significantly heavier weft than warp, resulting in a ribbed appearance. Dinner jacket facings and morning coat hems feature this fabric, while various other coats use it in hems and edges.


H

Half-Canvas

A jacket construction technique in which the chest area uses a stitched floating chest piece in lieu of fused canvas, and the lower portion of the jacket utilizes fused canvas. A halfway point between fused and full canvas, it’s commonly seen on made-to-measure suits and high-end ready-to-wear suits.


Half Lining

A lining technique in which a suit jacket is only lined along the shoulder blades and down each side panel. Allows for greater ventilation and is popular on spring and summer suitings.


Hank

A spool totaling 560 yards of yarn. “Super” numbers used to classify wool are determined by the number of hanks that can be spun from one pound of raw wool. The thinner/finer the fibers, the more hanks can be spun from it, thus the Super number increases.


Heel Guard

A strip of fabric sewn to the insides of trouser bottoms to give them additional weight and thus improved drape.


Hem

An edge of a piece of fabric that folds back and is sewn down.


Herringbone

A pattern consisting of interlocking v-shapes, but distinct from chevron weave. In herringbone, each V is vertically offset from the horizontally adjacent V. Similarly to houndstooth, herringbone is a twill weave.

Learn More: Suit Patterns: Herringbone


Houndstooth

A twill pattern that uses broken checks resembling diagonally-oriented teeth.

Learn More: Suit Patterns: Houndstooth


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I

Inlay

A portion of extra fabric inside a garment’s seam, which facilitates modification when adjustments are necessary.


Interlining

A separate lining between both the outer fabric and normal lining. Tailors use this in order to add support, preserving the garment’s shape and making it more robust.


Inseam

The trouser measurement from the fork in the crotch down to the hem. When RTW brands refer to trouser length, they are referencing inseam (as opposed to outseam). Also refers to the a jacket sleeve’s measurement from armpit to hem.


J

Jacket

A garment that covers the torso and arms, the top half of a suit. In Britain, suit jackets are referred to as coats.


Jet Pocket

A pocket with no flaps. See also besom pocket.


Jigger Button

The inside button of a double-breasted jacket used to help keep the jacket in place while buttoned.


K

Kent

See 4×1.


Keyhole

Buttonhole consisting of a long slit with a round opening at the end, in order to minimize fabric distortion.


L

Lapel

Flaps of fabric that fold back from the front edge on the chest of a garment.


Lining

Material used to line the inside of a garment. Is often silk, Bemberg, or another synthetic material such as polyester or viscose. Cotton linings are less common.


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M

Made-To-Measure

A suit construction technique in which a block pattern is altered (typically by a CAD system) to accommodate a customer’s measurements before the garment is made. Typically offers superior fit to an off-the-rack suit but inferior fit to a custom or bespoke one.


Morning Coat

A formal single-breasted coat with peak lapels and with tails in the back, chiefly worn as part of morning dress.


Morning Dress

A dress code for formal weddings; another term for this is “formal day dress.” Includes a tailcoat, as well as a top hat.


N

Natural Shoulder

A jacket’s shoulder expression in which the garment’s shoulder follows the line of the body’s, typically with minimal padding.


Nehru

A hip-length tailored coat with a Mandarin collar. Modelled on the Indian sherwani (also known as “achkan“), a garment worn by Jawaharlal Nehru, a former Indian Prime Minister.


Notch Lapel

See step collar.


O

Odd

A sartorial term referring to the concept of intentional mismatching. An odd jacket doesn’t match its trousers, an odd vest doesn’t match its suit, and so on. Appropriate for casual endeavors.


Off-The-Rack

A term referring to ready-made clothing that can be purchased and worn right “off the rack.” The least expensive way to manufacture and sell clothes, off-the-rack suits were practically invented by Brooks Brothers in the United States at the turn of the 20th century. See also: ready-to-wear.


Onseam Pockets

Pockets that lie directly next to or on a seam. Typically refers to a trouser’s front pockets that lay directly next to the outseams.


Outseam

The long seam on the outside of a trouser leg or jacket sleeve.


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P

Pagoda Shoulder

See con rollino


Pattern

A paper representation of a suit’s measurements. A pattern is laid onto a bolt of fabric, traced in tailor’s chalk, and cut (or “struck”) into the various elements of a suit. There are patterns for jackets, trousers, waistcoats, etc. Ready-to-wear and made-to-measure clothes utilize block (pre-made), whereas custom and bespoke tailors create custom patters for each of their clients after taking their measurements.


Peak Lapel

A lapel style in which the lapel juts outward and upward toward the shoulder. Typical of evening wear, morning dress, and non-business suits.


Perkins Devices

Equipment used by tailors to determine a customer’s posture, shoulder slopes, sleeve pitch, and other bodily irregularities.


Pick Stitch

A line of stitching at the edges of lapels, collars, and jacket hems. Formerly a sign of a custom suit, now a common aesthetic detail. May be set 1/16″, 1/8″, or 1/4″ off of a hem, with more space corresponding to a more casual look.


Plaid

Also tartan. A pattern of overlapping lengthwise and crosswise bands.

Learn More: Suit Patterns: Plaid


Pleat

A piece of fabric folded over itself in an accordion fashion. typical of men’s trouser fronts, they allow more space for the hips, especially when sitting.


Point-To-Point

The distance from a jacket’s shoulder seam to the other. Used by made-to-measure, custom, and bespoke clothiers, it is a crucial measurement as altering jacket shoulders is quite time-consuming.


Posture

The degree to which the head sits forward or backward. May be regular, stooped (head sits forward, perhaps hunchbacked), or erect (head sits back, spine curves inward).


Prèt-A-Porter

A French term referring to ready-to-wear clothing. Has a luxury connotation.


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Q

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R

Reverse Pleats

Trouser pleats which fold outward from the fly. Common in Italian-style suits.


Ready-To-Wear

See off-the-rack; short form is “RTW.”


Reefer Jacket

A British naval jacket off of which the peacoat and archetypical blazer are based.


Roll

The extent to which a jacket’s lapels stick (or “roll”) out away from the wearer. Known to give the wearer a sense of muscularity, a prominent lapel roll us more easily achievable on stitched lapels as opposed to fused ones.


Rope Shoulder

See con rollino.


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S

Sabiro/Sabburu

Japanese corruption of the phrase “Savile Row.” Means “a suit.”


Savile Row

A famous street in London’s Mayfair district that’s home to the world’s premiere bespoke tailors.

Learn More: Traditional British Suiting: Savile Row


Scrap Fitting

The first intermediary fitting of the bespoke process, this is a test of the customer’s pattern’s accuracy and is done with a jacket made from “scrap” material. Everything is still alterable easily at this stage.


Seat

The part of trousers that cover the rear end. Also refers to the measurement of the rear end.


Shawl Collar

A type of lapel in which the collar and lapel are one continuous piece. Typical of smoking jackets and some tuxedo jackets.


Slope

The angle of the shoulder line. May be regular, sloped (shoulders angle downward) or square (shoulders form a 180-degree line). Shoulders are often not of the same slope on a customer.


Side Fastening Tabs

A trouser fastening mechanism that uses neither belt loops nor suspender buttons. There are adjustable tabs at each hip that are used to tighten or loosen the trouser waist.


Single-Breasted

A button stance in which the jacket’s front panels don’t overlap and the front buttons are arranged in one column. Single-breasted jackets commonly have two or three buttons, though-one-button jackets are typical of single-breasted tuxedo coats.


Sleeve

The part of a jacket or shirt that covers the arms.


Sleeve Pitch

The angle at which a sleeve rests relative the the jacket body. If the wearer’s natural sleeve pitch is different than that of the jacket, there will be significant creasing in the arm and the sleeves will have to be rotated.


Smoking Jacket

A semi-formal evening jacket worn with tuxedo trousers, typically in a home setting. The name comes from the practice of men retiring to a smoking room after dinner and changing their jackets so as to not offend their wives’ sense of smell after having a cigar or pipe.


Spalla Camicia

An Italian phrase that translates roughly to “shirtsleeve shoulder,” this is a typical shoulder expression of Neapolitan jackets. It is the most natural of natural shoulders.


Step Collar

A lapel style in which there is a space separating the collar from the lapel at the gorge line. Known as a notch collar in America.


Striker

A British term for a cutter’s assistant.


Surgeon’s Cuffs

Functional buttonholes on jacket sleeves. The term comes from a time when doctors didn’t remove their jackets before surgery; “surgeon’s cuffs” allowed them to roll up their sleeves without removing the jacket.


Suspender Buttons

Buttons on the inside of a trouser waistband to which suspenders (“braces” in British English) are attached.


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T

Tailor

A clothing professional who sews garments together after they’ve been cut. Also refers to someone who does alterations or repairs on clothing.

Learn More: How To Find A Tailor


Tartan

See plaid.


Ticket Pocket

A second, smaller outside pocket on the right hand side of a suit jacket, just above the regular pocket. The name is derived from the practice of putting train or opera tickets into the pocket. Also cash pocket.


Trousers

A garment that covers the body from the waist down with the exception of the feet. More commonly referred to in the United States as “pants,” the term comes from the French troussér, meaning “tucked up.”

Learn More: How Trousers Should Fit


Turn Ups

British term for trouser cuffs. See also: cuffs.


Tuxedo

See dinner jacket.


Tweed

A durable, somewhat weather-resistant woolen fabric with a rough texture, traditional in Scotland and Ireland but now available worldwide.


Twill

A category of fabric weave that tends to create a diagonal appearance because of its structure. Each yarn passes over two or more perpendicular yarns, and then under one or more yarns, depending on the pattern.

Learn More: Different Types Of Fabric Weaves


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U

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V

Vent

The openings in the back of a jacket or overcoat. Center (single) vents have a sportier history, whereas side (double) vents are dressier. Jackets may also be ventless.


Vest

American term for “waistcoat,” this is a garment that covers the torso but not the arms. The third piece of a three-piece suit.


W

Waist

The part of trousers or a coat that surrounds the body’s waist. The body’s natural waist is located just beneath the ribcage, not around the hips.


Waistcoat

See “vest.”


Warp

Longitudinal yarns in a weave.


Weave

A specific pattern in which yarns interlace.

Learn More: Technological History Of Weaving


Weft

The transverse yarns of a fabric’s weave.


Welt

Something sewn or otherwise fastened to an edge, pocket, or border to guard, strengthen, or adorn it. Typical of jacket breast pockets and waistcoat pockets.


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X

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Y

Yarn

A thread of fibers, the basic component of woven fabrics.


Z

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Other Resources

Now that you’ve finished exploring our suit glossary, why not continue onto our suiting guides and materials?

Bespoke Unit Suit & Tailoring Glossary
Reviewed by Peter A, on .
"A myriad of useful terms. This comprehensive glossary makes it much easier to know what's happening when visiting my tailor!"
Rating: 5.0 ★★★★★