Formal suit is more often a three piece suit i.e. the combination of coat, trousers, and vest. In a two-piece suit, vest is not used. Women’s formal suit, a later development of men’s suit, may include a skirt instead of trousers. While women’s formal suits have become a quite common form of dress, majority of women do not wear suit as frequently as men. Women’s formal suits are still considered as clothing befitting only business meetings.
To complete the attire, men usually wear a shirt and tie with their formal suit while women wear a blouse. Also used with suit were other accessory items like a hat (worn by men), and a pill box (for women). During the 20th century, these items have usually been dropped out of fashion codes and are only rarely seen with a formal suit.
Formal suit for men was introduced in the 19th century. However, the coat used as the essential part of the suit today was brought into formal wear in 1666 by King Charles II of Britain. He set the dress code for men coming to court by decreeing a long coat to be a necessary part of their dress. A waistcoat, a cravat, a wig, and trousers (or breeches) were other member items of this formal attire.
The wig and knee breeches were dropped out of formal suit items after the French Revolution. In the late 19th century, the modern necktie appeared on the fashion scene for formal occasions. Waistcoats and hats gradually went out of the dress code and the colorful and elaborate patterns of the 17th century are no more seen in modern formal suit. Still, the basic outline of the suit has been retained in modern suit with some adjustments.
With time, the popularity of wearing formal suit has been tamed by the taste for casual dresses. During the 1990s, even a large number of American businessmen started using casual wear more often than not and suit, as a result, has been confined almost exclusively to business and formal occasions. Women’s suit has evolved accordingly and the use of miniskirt dominates formal wear among women.
As trends in the use of formal suit keep evolving, etiquettes associated with wearing formal suit keep changing. For men, various considerations in wearing suit include things like appropriate suit color, buttoning the suit, use of suitable ties and shirts, matching socks, and accessory items like belts, watches, chains, handkerchiefs etc. Wearing matching shoes is also an important consideration. Women observe suiting etiquettes by selecting appropriate blouse colors, non-use of neckties, and use of suitable jewelry (especially necklaces).