In How a Suit Should Fit, I covered in detail, the proper fit of a suit. But because the suit is a complex piece of art, there are actually other components of suit that need to be considered when picking a suit that’s right for you. In a series of articles, I’ll go over essential components of a suit and what factors you’ll need to consider to ensure that the suit you’re about to buy is right for you. In this article, I’ll be going over the vents of a suit.
Vents are the “slits” or openings that are at the back of the suit jacket, blazer or sport coat. There’s 3 classifications of vents – no vent, single vent, or double-vent and they have major differences in terms of aesthetics and functionality. It’s important to note that regardless of the vent type, the vents should lay flat and be perpendicular to the ground. There should not be any tugging or flares outs when you’re standing normally. Now let’s take a look each type of vent:
Italian in origin, the no vent jacket is quite simply a jacket without any slits at the back.
The main benefit to no vent jackets is mainly aesthetics. Because it hugs the hip contours, it provides a simple, clean, stream-lined look. However, the no vent is a classic example of looks over function. Function wise, it is a poor choice. Because of its lack of vents, reaching into your pockets will cause bunching of the jacket. This bunching will naturally result in unsightly wrinkles and creases.
Having gained its popularity in the United States, the single vent was originally designed as a component of function: its centre slit was created to allow the jacket to drape more comfortably when the wearer was saddled on a horse.
The single vent does not provide any advantages aesthetic wise or when it comes to real function (unless you’re riding into town on a horse). It suffers from the same bunching issues as the no vent when you are to reach into your pockets. In addition, the single slit almost acts as an exposed curtain revealing your butt each time you are to reach for your pockets. In terms of traditional men’s style, a jacket that exposes your butt is a serious style faux-pas.
Single vents are typically what you’ll see in most off-the-rack/ready to wear suits due to its ease in manufacturing compared to the double vent.
A double vented jacked consists of two slits near the sides of the jacket. It is a great overall style that is pleasing aesthetically and has the highest functionality out of the 3 vent styles. Unlike the no vent and the single vent, the double vent has slits near the trouser pockets which allow for easy access to your trouser pockets without any bunching all the while keeping your buttocks covered. Of course, this lack of bunching reduces any type of creasing or wrinkling at the back of your suit. The side vents also reduce the occurrence of wrinkling or creasing when you’re sitting down. In terms of comfort and maneuverability, the double vent certainly is the least constricting vent style of the 3.
The downside of double vents is the cost. The cost and skill to make 2 vents rather than 1 is higher which is why you won’t typically see the double vent in most off the rack suits.
Which Vent Should I choose?
I recommend the double vent for all men mainly because of its functionality. The slits allow for better movement and easier access to your trouser pockets compared to the two other vent styles. There is advice out there that states guys who have larger butts should avoid the double vent and go with the single vent but I find this to be unfounded. Manny and I both have squatter’s asses and we find that the double vents actually allow for the coat to drape our contours better. As long as your jacket is tailored correctly for your dimensions, having a small or a large ass shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to the double vent. Although the single vent is typically known to be a viable option for those of you with bigger butts, its lack of functionality makes me advise against it if you have the option.
In fact, I want to mention that those of you with more developed legs and backsides might find that an otherwise well fitting single-vented jacket may still expose your backside. I found that this was the case with my J. Crew Ludlow blazer as seen here when I had my top button fastened. The jacket itself fits really well everywhere else but my butt still protrudes out a bit. If you want your backside to be fully covered, the double vent is the way to go.
What about slender or shorter men? If you belong to one or both of these categories and don’t care much about function the no vent is a also a viable option for you. As I mentioned previously, the no vent creates an extremely stream lined look and as long as you are more petite, you can pull this off. But if you have a larger back side, it’s best to stay away from the no vent as it will cause your proportions to be thrown off.
A Final Word
It’s important to realize that when it comes the importance of individual components of a suit, the vents aren’t at the top priority. Proper shoulders and proper fit trump vent decisions. Because most off-the-rack suits are single vents anyways, I would ensure that the more important variables are taken care of before considering the vents. If the vents are single instead of double but the suit fits you great, then I wouldn’t sweat it. However, if you need/want to go the MTM route or have the option to chose your vent, be sure to heed the advice in this article.