On a suit, the ‘quarters’ are the two flaps of the jacket that meet together below the waist button.
At one time, most all jackets had closed quarters (i.e., no gap where the lower front flaps of the coat come together). Yet, as early as the 1780s, men began to get the front of their coats “cut away” in order to make riding a horse easier, thus the term “cutaway” came into being.
As you can see below in the demonstration of a coat ‘cutaway’ on the right, this design made it much easier to straddle a horse to make way for the saddle and horse flanks, without the front of the jacket getting in the way.
Today, function gives way to style preference—as some men prefer the look and feel of “closed quarters”, while others prefer open quarters on their jackets.
Some simple terms to know:
* Jacket quarters refer to the left and right flaps of the jacket that are directly below the waist button.
* On a suit coat, the entire ‘perimeter of the area below the waist button’ is called the skirt.
Closed quarter jackets are more snug and help form an athletic Y-shape silhouette. The closed quarter design can also be perceived as a more conservative design. Open quarter jackets create more breathing room in front and can make the top and bottom half of the silhouette appear balanced. However, if the lower body is disproportionately heavy, then open quarters can further exaggerate the width of the hips and expose the belly section.
In the above cartoon, notice that open quarters create a widening affect on the lower body, while closed quarters create a widening effect of the upper body. If your body is wide at the bottom, you may prefer closed quarters to accentuate your chest area and narrow the appearance of the hip area. On the other hand, if you look like Johnny Bravo with an exaggerated “V” shape and small hips and rear, then you may want try open quarters on your jacket, to help balance out the body’s silhouette.
Compare the photos below of Parisian Gentleman’s Contributing Editor Paul Lux.
Examples of Closed Quarters
EXAMPLES OF OPEN QUARTERS
In the end, deciding whether to chose a jacket with closed or open quarters is a matter of personal taste and balancing your body proportions, but a good choice can bring you a step closer to achieving the silhouette you want.