Associated Press, Tom James Company
Tom James suit is an example of a tighter fit. Also, the two-button jacket is back.

Here are some of the small changes in menswear making big news, according to Christian Boehm, vice president of marketing and merchandising for custom clothing-maker Tom James.

• Back in 2000, there was nary a two-button suit in sight — men were only interested in three buttons or even four. Now, heading into 2008, it's all about the two buttons, although suits look different from those in the1990s, incorporating the slimmer fit that came with three-button suit.

The whole stance has moved up, Boehm say, with the lower button right in line with the top of the jacket's lower pockets. In 1998, that button would have been two inches lower.

There's also a greater space between the two buttons, growing from four inches to five. "The spacing gives a longer, leaner, trimmer look to it," Boehm says.

• Shirts with button-down collars were the norm a decade ago. Men wore them with suits, sportcoats and no jacket at all.

Button-collar shirts are still worn but often with a more casual open collar, while the shirts worn with suits and ties are spread collars.

• The same wider 3 3/4-inch tie had survived for the last 15 years or so but it recently went on a diet, measuring closer to 3 inches now.

• Suit shoulders and lapels also have slimmed down. The average shoulder on a size 40 jacket is 19 inches from point to point instead of 20, and the standard lapel is 3 1/2 inches instead of 3 3/4.

(Yes, these seem to be very small amounts but, says Boehm, really have noticeable effects.)

The notch on the lapel has moved up an inch or so.

• Trousers used to have double pleats, but flat-front pants are more common now. The knee and cuff aren't as full: On a base-size 34-inch waist paint, the knee is now 20 1/2 inches versus 22, and the bottom is 18 instead of 18 1/2.

• Men aren't as afraid of color as they used to be.