The variations in design, cut, and cloth, such as two- and three- piece, or single- and double- breasted, determine the social and work suitability of the garment. Often, suits are worn, as is traditional, with a collared shirt and necktie. Until around the 1960s, as with all men’s clothes, a hat would have been also worn when the wearer was outdoors. Suits also come with different numbers of pieces: a two-piece suit has a jacket and the trousers; a three piece adds a waistcoat; further pieces might include a matching flat cap. Currently, suits are sold in roughly three ways:
Originally, as with most clothes, a tailor made the suit from his client’s selected cloth; these are now often known as bespoke suits. The suit was custom made to the measurements, taste, and style of the man. Since the Industrial Revolution, most suits are mass-produced, and, as such, are sold as ready-to-wear garments (though alteration by a tailor prior to wearing is common).
- bespoke, in which the garment is custom-made from a pattern created entirely from the customer’s measurements, giving the best fit and free choice of fabric;
- made to measure, in which a pre-made pattern is modified to fit the customer, and a limited selection of options and fabrics is available;
- and finally ready-to-wear, which is least expensive and hence most common.