Taking a moment to vent

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One, two or none.... What am I talking about? Vents on your coat.

As is often the case when discussing menswear, a brief history lesson is required. The standard length of a suit coat started to rise after the longish style of the Roaring Twenties until it rested just below the seat.

This created new challenges and raised new questions: Do I put my hands in my pockets? Do I ride horses on a regular basis? Do I dance frequently while wearing my coat? Yes, the various activities of the day determined the type of vent recommended, and some of them still do.

Most men reach into their trouser pockets to retrieve things. When doing so, the side vents on their coat or jacket do a nice job of keeping the seat covered.

In the unlikely event that you commute to work on horseback, a single vent, which opens and rests over the saddle back, would be the right choice. Same goes for looking your best while twisting, turning and sashaying around the dance floor, where excess flapping is frowned upon. A single vent ensures at least a modicum of dignity.

You see my point. Now let’s talk about the message each vent choice sends. The single vent is a Brooks Brothers holdover from the Ivy League set, who appreciated its subtle styling and conservative look. The side vent arrived on the scene via bespoke Savile Row clothing, with its more flattering fit close to the body. Dinner jackets generally have no vent at all, due to the desire for clean lines on a tuxedo.

So which option should the modern gentleman choose? Your best bet is to adopt side vents for all coats other than topcoats or overcoats for reasons of warmth. Plus, they flatter the slimmer suit jacket and allow unfettered pocket access.

Finally, side vents create a flattering leg line, which the single vent interrupts. Contrary to popular belief, it's easier to cut for the fitted suit as a single vent is virtually impossible to close on the form fitting suit coat.

 

In his more than 30-year career as a retail menswear consultant, Peter Lloyd Greer has accumulated an encyclopedic knowledge of the dos and don'ts of men's style. He is always eager to share his sartorial savoir-faire, either as Surmesur's in-store training specialist or as its designated expert style blogger. peter@surmesur.com

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