Stop Saying “Suiting”


Misuses of language have a way of spreading like viruses. For years now sportscasters have been using the term “reactionary” instead of “reactive.” Reactionary, of course, means politically ultra-conservative, not “characterized by athletic reaction.” The same guys also like to analyze the “enormity” of the situation, when in fact “enormity” means excessive wickedness, not a big important moment.

Lately you may have noticed the prevalence in the clothing industry of using the terms “shirting” and “suiting” to refer to shirts and suits. Even our beloved brethren have caught the bug:

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-7-45-33-pm-1As most of us here know, “shirtings” and “suitings” are most definitely actual words, but they refer to swatches of fabric, not to actual shirts and suits. I’m guessing that in these cases (that’s J. Crew at the top), there’s a young and quite possibly female copywriter or social media manager spreading this linguistic misstep, and there’s no gray-haired old gentleman anywhere near their department to correct them. Not only are the terms just flat-out wrong, there’s a faux-fanciness about it that’s so very, very middle class.

At least when the Japanese used botched English we just roll our eyes and chuckle because they’re such darned nice people and their mistakes are kind of cute.

So in order to stop the spread of this disease, let’s all correct people who use “shirtings and suitings” as pompously and relentlessly as possible.

“Blazer,” for sportcoat, alas, I fear is a lost cause. — CC

33 Comments on "Stop Saying “Suiting”"

  1. Why “quite possibly female”?

  2. Blazer for sport coat is a lost cause and it seems as though suiting and shirting are on their way.

  3. Bags' Groove | October 8, 2016 at 5:21 pm |

    Blazer for sportcoat because some associate coat with overcoat, perhaps? Sports jacket solves any confusion in a trice. Pants and trousers is another problem area. Cuffs and turn ups as well.

  4. Bags' Groove | October 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm |

    Let me assure you, young ubiquitous GS, that your comment was not on the screen at time of posting. Perish the thought that you or anyone else would think I was jumping on a bandwagon.

  5. But turnups and cuffs, pants and trousers are essentially referring to the same thing. A herringbone tweed sportcoat is not a blazer.

    Women, however, do not refer to their tailored jackets as sportcoats. They call them blazers at J. Crew and Lands’ End and everywhere else — even if they’re made of herringbone tweed.

    Also, “blazer” sounds cooler if you’re a New York-based copywriter for a big fashion brand.

  6. A blazer is a sportcoat, but all sportcoats aren’t blazers. Correct shirting and suiting are the fabric.

  7. I corresponded with Boyer today and he said exactly that quote, word for word.

    He also told me something I don’t think I’d ever heard (not being a tailoring/nuts and bolts kind of guy), and that’s that woolen materials are typically called cloth, not fabric. So cotton shirtings would be fabric and woolen suitings would be cloth.

  8. Bags' Groove | October 8, 2016 at 6:10 pm |

    I think I’m safe in saying that male or female, we just use the word jacket over here, CC…which you wear with trousers, with or without turn ups, preferably with pleats. Then, as you stroll the boulevards of the capital, chaps are wont to exuberantly cry “Well trousered, Sir”. Happens all the time…unless, of course, we’re suffering one of our world-renowned pea souper fogs.

  9. This misuse of language even for clothing is an overflow of the Orwellian language that permeates public discourse.

    Restaurant menus that formerly offered “meat and potatoes” now tell us they serve “protein and starch”.

    Civilizational suicide on all fronts I’m sorry to say.

  10. A Bridge Too Far | October 8, 2016 at 10:54 pm |

    If I were strolling along the boulevard and some unknown man shouted out to me, “Well-trousered, Sir,” I’d want to run and hide.

  11. White Pinpoint | October 8, 2016 at 11:23 pm |

    @A Bridge Too Far:
    I assume that you were also properly shirted and suited at the time.

  12. Moins que Parfait | October 8, 2016 at 11:30 pm |

    @White Pinpoint
    Les Frères Brooks have been shirting and suiting gentlemen since Hector was a pup.

  13. A Bridge Too Far | October 8, 2016 at 11:52 pm |

    @White Pinpoint

    Properly shirted and suited? Oh, yes. I was. And, I was properly tied, belted and shoed, as well.

  14. Brooks Brothers, Shirters and Suiters since 1818

  15. B. Worcester | October 9, 2016 at 12:28 am |

    BB gave up sartorial purism long ago; it’s no surprise that they don’t care about details of linguistic purism.

  16. A “suiting factory” is saying that their factory only makes suiting fabrics/cloths.

  17. Bags' Groove | October 9, 2016 at 8:26 am |

    Strange, ABTF, as you’re one of the last (on these pages) I’d have had down as the shy retiring type. Perhaps I should explain that that was English satire at work. Maybe not to you, but there’s an Ivy devotee out in Butte, Montana, who got it immediately. The last time I heard anyone use “Well trousered, Sir” was when the great Peter Alliss, an extremely witty man and great raconteur, commented on some golfer’s get-up, referring to what you would know as GTH pants.

  18. A Bridge Too Far | October 9, 2016 at 10:28 am |

    BG, you are correct. I am generally not the shy retiring type. But another man commenting on my trousers?! That would be an odd situation here in the good ol’ USA. Very odd, indeed.

    The last time I remember a similar comment was maybe a few decades ago. Chrissy Evert, the phenomenal female tennis star of her day, was departing the court after a grueling loss to Martina Navratilova. Bud Collins walked out to interview her, and walking by him, she gazed at his very loud GTH trousers and said, “Nice pants, Bud.”

  19. Bags' Groove | October 9, 2016 at 10:46 am |

    Here too, Bud. Odd in extreme.

  20. Bags' Groove | October 9, 2016 at 10:53 am |

    Oops. “The extreme”, or “in extremis”? I can’t decide. Lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve got no mind to worry. I close my eyes and drift away…

  21. Khaki Chinos | October 9, 2016 at 1:42 pm |

    If I get you gents right, we’re allowed to compliment a man on his jacket and necktie, I guess, but not his trousers. What about his shirt? his shoes?

  22. A Bridge Too Far | October 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm |

    BG – I would say “odd in the extreme,” or more likely, “extremely odd.” In extremis has that ring of death to it.

    Khaki Chinos – Jacket and ties are fine. I’ve had men compliment me on my shirts, and that’s been okay. If someone were to say, out of the blue, “Oooh, I love your shoes” I’d think it a bit odd. Maybe not as odd as being ‘well-trousered,’ but odd, nonetheless. Best advice: Keep your compliments aimed above the waist. That’s the safest.

  23. goldrushapple | October 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm |

    For a moment I thought that was you in the top picture – middle model, Christian.

    As for language, maybe I’m just ignorant of its wider use, but I keep seeing “stockist” when it comes to stores supplying your item. I see this mostly on sites geared towards urban/street fashion.

  24. The middle model does kind of look like me. Isn’t he also a Brooks model?

  25. While we’re nitpicking this topic, has anyone else noticed the dropping of plural usage for pants and shorts in sales language? When I go shopping with my wife now I constantly see things like “the chino pant” and “the 6″ short.” Who makes these decisions anyway?

  26. @Mazama

    You’re 100% on point. The more PC society gets, the closer we are to wearing skin suits and eating soylent green.

  27. Hallelujah and praise the Lord, we’re finally publicly calling for the eradication of this stupidity. I presume that someone has forwarded this along to our favorite blogger-cum-tailor?

    Also, agree with Richard that using ‘pant’ or ‘short’ has a similarly annoying inside-baseball connotation that makes me want to do harm to the user.

  28. Marc Chevalier | October 10, 2016 at 10:40 am |

    Stop saying “sizing” in the wrong context, world.

  29. This seeming misuse of words is not an oversight by an uninformed younger person. In fact, it is an exacting and intentional invention of terms that create vague connotations but contain no real meaning. Words like “suiting” at first sound like some arcane technical term to the average consumer because they are at once familiar yet used slightly differently. You know what it means, but its unfamiliarity makes you assume it might be an exclusive, insider term. That is absolutely intentional.

  30. Charlottesville | October 11, 2016 at 1:08 pm |

    Also, “penultimate” for “last,” “libation” for “drink” and the list goes on and on. Pretentious twaddle from the semiliterate kids in ill-fitting “suitings” that our colleges are cranking out by the thousands these days. I can barely stand to read most newspapers because of the cringe-inducing writing, and even the generally well-written WSJ publishes fashion pieces that make my teeth hurt. I’m not sure that this is the end of civilization, but at times it feels like it.

  31. And “price point.” In every example I’ve seen, “price” would have been sufficient.

  32. Henry Contestwinner | January 26, 2017 at 7:24 pm |

    A post after my own heart! I’m so sorry I missed it at the time. All the criticisms—Mazama, Richard, Charlottesville—are spot-on. AEV—uh, I mean “VEA”—noted that the World’s Finest Suitinger, FEC, uses this anguished argot—but of course! His purple prose matches the “wearings” he markets.

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