How should a suit fit?
I get this question a lot. For most men, a suit is a significant purchase. It's also what we wear when impressions really matter like business meetings and weddings.
Get it right, and you look like the suave gentleman you know yourself to be. Get it wrong though and you look like a kid borrowing his dad's clothes. You have to nail this, but how?
The truth is, the devil is in the detail. So what should you be paying attention to?
Gents, I've broken down this guide into the 8 key areas that if you get a great fit in will come together to guarantee your suit makes you look like a million bucks. Here they are:
This is the first and most important area you should be paying attention to. Most men won't buy a suit with shoulders that are too tight but many men do go one or even two sizes too large. Adjusting a suit's shoulders is one of the most difficult changes for a tailor to make as well.
It's best to get this right the first time and avoid a potentially steep cost later.
Below are two easy-to-spot signs a suit jacket doesn't fit you in the shoulder:
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Suit Fit Mistake: Shoulder rumpling
Be very careful if you see this in a suit jacket. There are two possible causes: The first is poor quality build.
The second is that the suit is not designed for your shoulder type. Men can have broad, square or sloped shoulders and it may just not be the right fit for you.
Whatever the cause, this is likely not the suit for you.
Suit Fit Mistake: Shoulder divots
Does the shoulder of your suit jacket have an overhang? Does the fabric bend and angle inwards as it goes down the top of your arm?
This is a classic sign a suit jacket is a size too big for you. The fit should be as close as possible to the end of your natural shoulder.
The neck and how a suit jacket's collar fits on it is another hard-to-fix (but luckily easy-to-spot) issue. The collar should fit softly against your shirt collar.
If the collar sits back from your shirt collar it is too large and this is hard to adjust retroactively. If a collar is too tight there will be material bunching up behind it. This is easier for a tailor to fix though so if you don't have time to search for another suit or you are willing to pay for adjustments then this is the option to lean towards.
Chest And Torso
Next, how should the jacket fit on the chest? A jacket should be very slightly loose – with roughly an inch or inch and a half between your jacket at the top button and your shirt. Try holding two fingers between your jacket and shirt as a rough guide.
If your jacket is too loose on you then it can be brought in a couple of inches. Any more than that though will start to change the lines of the suit.
Suit Fit Mistake: The dreaded X
This is the telltale sign a suit jacket is too tight. When buttoned, the material will bunch up across your chest as it tries to fit across you, causing the material to crease in the shape of an X.
Suit Jacket Length
Ask yourself, can you put your hands by your side and curl your hands around the bottom of your suit jacket?
At the back of the suit jacket, it should ideally just be covering the back curvature of your backside.
Shorter men can lean into the Italian suit style of having their jackets be slightly shorter to avoid looking swamped in fabric. Taller men can opt for a slightly longer jacket to create a sense of balance with their long legs.
If you are looking to adjust a suit after purchase, be aware that a jacket can be shortened up to an inch but cannot be lengthened.
Your jacket's sleeve should reveal half an inch or an inch of your shirt cuff.
In terms of making adjustments, jacket sleeves can typically be altered by an inch to an inch and a half.
The pitch is how a suit jacket's sleeve is attached to the torso. This is done at an angle but it may not be the right angle for every man.
Relax your upper body and look in the mirror. Is the sleeve's material relaxed and draping smoothly downwards or is it twisted at an angle?
This is another detail best to nail first time. It will cost at least $50 to be adjusted because it must be done by hand.
Let's talk about a suit's trousers. Many men buy a suit with two to three inches of extra material in the backside area.
Have this taken in and you will have a less baggy, much more tailored-looking fit when you take your jacket off.
When it comes to trouser length most men don't go too short and show their ankles. Instead, they buy a suit with too much material lying around their ankles. To really nail the fit you want to instead have no trouser break at the bottom.
Most businesses selling suits will offer a hemming service – you might just have to ask them. This service will sometimes be free with the purchase of a suit or cost roughly $10.
Ok gents, there you have it. Pay attention to these key details and you will find a suit that fits you well and makes you look great for years to come with true Harvey Specter style.
Want more details on fit? Go check out my massive 2000 word post on suit fit over at The Art of Manliness.
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