Every guy on the planet should have a beautiful suit. When you put on a suit you should feel confident and ready to take on the world. A well-fitting suit will hide everything that’s asymmetrical about your body highlighting features such as your shoulders and your chest, giving you a natural and flattering v-shape. The opposite side of that coin is a badly fitting suit. No matter how much a suit cost it’s only as good as the tailoring. The fit is the most important thing when buying a new or revamping an old. In this article, I’ll guide you through the main areas you need to focus on when buying a suit and when you’re at the tailor.
How Should a Suit Jacket Fit?
Although a number of details can be altered at the Tailor it’s important you make sure the shoulders, button location, and length are correct at purchase. These details are very difficult to change and/or very expensive.
As I’ve stated above you need to make sure the shoulders of your suit jacket are perfect at the time of your purchase. You want the shoulder seams to line up with the end of your shoulders. If the jacket is too small your shoulders will be hitting your upper sleeves, and if the jacket is too big there will be a dimple in the upper sleeve. If the jacket is the proper size in this area the shoulders will lay flat, and the sleeves will have no wrinkles or dimples when your arms are hanging straight down.
To get the proper size try on multiple sizes. If you think you’re a 42, try a 40, if that still fits, try a 38. When you get to the point where your jacket is definitely too small jump back up a size. This is your proper size. Remember, baggy shoulders are difficult and expensive to fix at the tailor so make sure to get this right out of the box.
If the shoulders look go we need to move our attention to the collar. The collar should show no significant gaps between your blazer collar and your shirt collar. It should follow the line of your shirt collar perfectly. If you get the shoulders right the collar should fall right into place
Top Button Location
The top button of a two-button suit jacket or the middle button of a three button suit jacket should fall at your belly button or 1-inch above, never below.
You can’t do much about the length of your jacket at the tailor. At best you’ll be able to trim off an inch from the length before the jacket starts looking disproportionate. So at the time of purchase let’s make sure we get the proper length. For guys under 5′ 9″ the jacket should end mid crotch, for taller guys above 5′ 9″ the jacket can fall to the lower crotch at the bottom of the zipper. A good way to check is to let your arms hang at your side and see if your knuckles are even with the bottom of your jacket. Check by cupping the button hem of the jacket with your hands. If you can do this without ruffling the fabric you should be good to go.
Not a lot of guys realize that you can get your sleeves altered. I’m not talking about just the length of the sleeve but the amount of fabric along the body of the sleeve. When you’re at the tailor you want to make sure your sleeves hug and closely follow the contours of your arms. Most jackets off the rack don’t do this so most jackets should be altered in this area. As far as the length goes we want to make sure that 1/4″ to a 1/2″ of your shirt shows. A good way to accomplish this is to let your arm hang down by your side and bend your wrist up as far as you can so the palm is facing down. You want the jacket to be about 1/4″ above your bent wrist, while your dress shirt should just be touching the top of your hand. This would be a perfect fit.
Chest & Body
The whole idea of fitting a suit is to get a snug fit without being too constrictive. The body of your suit should just hug your midsection. You should be able to slide your hand down the front of your jacket between your body and the top button. If you make a fist the top button should pull significantly. If you feel no pressure at all on the top button get the jacket taken in for an optimal fit. If it’s too tight you’ll notice the bottom of the jacket pulling apart making an ugly ‘X’ with the front of your jacket.
If you have the body correct the lapels should lie flat. Any bowing will require a different size or a different brand. For additional cohesion, you’ll want to make sure your lapels, dress shirt collar, and tie are all slim.
In this area, you want to look for some comfort without disrupting the flow of the jacket. With your arms at your side, the armholes should be high without cutting into your armpit. You should see no wrinkles or bellowing
How Should Suit Pants Fit?
Your pants should not need a belt to hold them up. So try them on without the belt and if they fall down off your hips get them taken in. The waist of dress pants should sit higher than those of jeans. About 1-inch below your belly button is a good check.
Legs & Butt
When it comes to dress pants you want clean lines without any wrinkles. This means you need the right circumference around your butt, thighs, knees, and ankles. If you can grab a fistful of fabric at your thigh get the legs tailored to a slight taper. This will create the cleaner lines we’re looking for. For a modern look think of having your pants fit like your jeans. That means a leg opening when laid flat of between 7-7.5 inches.
Hem, Cuff, & Leg Opening
The length of dress pants is the topic of much debate. So I’ll try and make this as simple as possible. If you’re going to use my advice above and go with a modern tapper with a 7-7.5 leg opening then you want to go with no break or a slight/quarter break with the pants just hitting the top of your shoes so the front of your pants just slightly buckles. Either of these lengths will give you a modern polished look. If you’re into playing it safe, a slight break is a way to go and will work with any body type. This next piece is very simple. Never cuff your pants. The look is dated and a clean hem with no-cuff will give you that modern look we’re all looking for.