Fashion 101: How Should Your Suit Fit?

Everybody needs a refresher every now and again.  Today we are going back to basics.  I think it is always great to remind ourselves how to look good.  Just like your favorite local football heroes need to run some basic drills at practice, we need to run some fashion drills so we can keep our game good.  People notice when you are slacking and forget the classic keys to style, so let me be your coach today and give you a few reminders. 

Today I want to talk about fit.  The right fit isn’t about wearing the right brand.  You can have a Brioni suit that fits wrong and looks terrible or a suit from JCPenney that is great fit and makes you look like a million bucks.  Clothing that fits the right way makes all the difference.  It can take you from socially awkward to ladies man.  I’m kind of kidding here, but also I’m not.  The ladies love a man in a well-fitted suit.  Think Steve Carell in Crazy, Stupid, Love.  He changed his wardrobe and started wearing clothes that fit him right and not only did he look better, but it also boosted his confidence.  That could be you! The only thing standing between current you and a more confident, fashionably-savvy version of yourself is the rest of this article. 


So let’s dive in.  This time, I’m just going to focus on suits.  On your suit jacket, the length matters.  It determines how proportioned the top half of you body looks compared to the rest of it.  You want the bottom of the jacket to be around the mid-crotch area.  If you are taller than 5’9”, the jacket should ideally end a little bit lower – around the lower-crotch area. 

Shoulders on a suit make a huge difference.  You want the shoulder seam to end where your shoulders do – right about where your arm starts sloping down.  Additionally, you want the shoulders to be completely smooth with no wrinkles or divots.  This is a difficult thing for a tailor to repair on a suit, so make sure when you are buying a suit that it fits right in the shoulders. 


Sleeve length is another thing you want to do right.  When you hold your arms straight by your side, you want the jacket sleeve to sit about ¼” above your wrist.  This allows your shirt sleeve to extend and show a little from underneath the jacket and that is how you want it to be. 


Fit of the jacket should be just right.  When you button the top button of the jacket, it should hug your midsection, but it shouldn’t be constricting.  You want it to highlight your shape, but it should never pull because it is too small.  You also don’t want the mid-section to be too roomy.  If there is space between your chest and the jacket when it is buttoned, then it is too big and will have the effect of making you look like a the uncool kid at prom (not something you want).  When buying in store, it is better to buy too big than too small for tailoring purposes – a tailor can always take a jacket in, but finding fabric in a jacket that is too small is a little more difficult. 

You want the jacket collar to sit gently against the back of your shirt collar which should sit gently against the back of your neck.  There shouldn’t be much space between any of these things.  On the flipside, wrinkling underneath the collar indicates that it is probably a little bit too small, so you want to try and avoid that. 

Armholes can be tricky.  Some guys feel a little too constricted by the arms.  While you should be able to move pretty freely in your suit, it also is not meant for chopping wood, so stick to your lumberjack attire for more active events.  Your armholes should be high, but not so high that they cut into your armpit.  You also want them to give you room enough that you don’t really notice them, but not so much room that there is a ton of space between your armpit and the bottom of the armhole.  Again, I would like to reiterate, it should be comfortable, but also don’t expect a well-fitted suit to feel like a sweatshirt – sometimes fashion hurts, guys. 

You want the top button of the jacket to fall just above your belly button and never below it.  Wrong button placement can mess up the whole proportion of the suit. 

Donald Trump is a perfect example of an expensive suit that doesn’t fit and therefore looks terrible.  His sleeves are too long and the shoulder seam hangs over the edge of his shoulder.  Regardless of your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that this suit could fit better.   

Ok, now let’s move on to suit pants and/or dress pants.  The fit of your slacks is a little bit simpler than your jacket.  When thinking about how your dress or suit pants should fit, there are a few things to keep in mind.  For dress pants, unlike most jeans, the waistband should sit at your hip bones or even slightly above them and they should be snug enough that you don’t need a belt to keep them up.  No one likes a guy in saggy slacks.  Similarly, the seat of the pants should hug your tush but not be so tight that every movement strikes you with fear that your pants may split. 

(The Art of Manliness)

On the legs, you want to have some extra fabric – about an inch of fabric – but not much more or less.  The goal is to be able to see the shape of your legs, but not have pants that make you look like the lead singer of a punk rock band. 

The hem of your suit pants should rarely be cuffed.  In my opinion, your suit pants should be hemmed with a slight break (somewhere between a half break and a quarter break looks best).  This gives your pants a polished look and allows you room to have the hem taken in or let out a little bit if need be. 


And that is all I have for you this time.  Now go with newfound knowledge of suit fit and live a more stylish life.  If your suit fits the right way, it not only instills confidence in you, it gives you a more polished and professional look that translates to the impression people have of you.  Put some effort into how your suit fits and people will respect you more; I guarantee it. 

If you don’t want to hassle with buying a suit off the rack and getting it tailored, why not go custom.  Custom suits made with quality fabric that will fit perfectly start at around $1200 at JBD Clothiers. 

Confused about how your suit should fit, let me know. 


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