It's All About the Back Vent
Once again we see an everyday element of suiting, the vent, having its roots in the past with a very practical purpose. The function of the vent was to ensure that the wearer would always look impeccable even after they sat down!
The double vent is thought to be an honorable British institution that dates back to equestrian time when the need to ride a horse was an essential part of life. The stylish and glamorous icons of the bygone eras of Hollywood found fault with the vent, in that they thought it was most unflattening and therefore made suits for the movies without them. While Armani frequently cut suits without vents in the 1980’s; was this a style feature or a cost cutting measure of the lean 80’s?
Today a single vent is most common in a business suit, although at GB we feel if you want three vents you should have three vents and who cares about tradition!
Functioning Cuff Sleeve
There are details of the tailored suit that can be traced back to the desire for a section of society to differentiate themselves.
Today Savile Row is bursting at the seams with tailors but pre 19th Century it was awash with surgeons. As their job title suggests they would have had to operate on patients and with the least amount of upheaval to their attire, hence functioning cuffs came into use. The ability to attend to patients without having to remove their coat was one of the distinctions that set them apart from the working classes. While another defining feature would have been cost, today this is still a distinguishing feature of the traditional bespoke suit.
Keep the Last Button Undone on your Waistcoat
We can all be swayed by trends, looking to those of influence for inspiration. Edward VII was one of the trendsetters of his era. He is said to have influenced a styling detail that is still prevalent in suiting today and that is keeping the bottom button of your waistcoat undone.
Kind Edward was a lover of food, so much so his tailors had trouble altering his garments quickly enough. So on one faithful day the King opened the bottom button of his waistcoat to gain some relief from his ever-expanding waistline. By doing so this he influenced the members of his court and eventually wider society.
Today some waistcoats are even cut so that you cannot close the last button, while others leave the last buttonhole functioning so you can decide if you want to follow in the footsteps of Edward or set your own trend.