The suit fit makes or breaks the suit.
Imagine that you have finally found the ideal ensemble for your needs.
The big day comes for you to wear it for the first time, only when you put it on you realize something isn’t quite right. The shoulders are all bunched up, and the trousers are sagging.
Any creasing you see in your suit ruins your perfect image. If this happens, you have a problem with your suit fit and size. Let’s prevent that from happening!
- 1 The Suit Fit Basics
- 2 How Should a Suit Jacket Fit
- 3 How Should Suit Pants Fit
- 4 Bad Suit Fit Signs
- 5 Final Words
The Suit Fit Basics
Your suit must create a sleek silhouette.
Every suit wearer needs to know the suit basics to ensure he gets the perfect fit. Here are some of them:
Never fasten the last button of your suit. Unfasten the jacket closure buttons when you sit down.
Your jacket should create an hourglass shape when buttoned, with no pulling on the fabric. For a perfect suit fit, the buttons should just meet.
The fabric across the seat of the trousers should lay smoothly. If there is any pulling or sagging, toss those trousers aside.
If you opt for a waistcoat, be sure that it covers the waistband of your trousers. It should not hang loose, but neither should it ever show your stomach.
How Should a Suit Jacket Fit
A suit jacket may not be the first thing you notice about a suit. You can bet, though, that if the jacket fits poorly, you won’t notice anything else.
Here are some guidelines to help you find the perfect suit fit when it comes to the jacket.
The Jacket Closure
Fastening your button should not pull on your jacket or cause lines to poke out from the button.
If you find that your jacket pulls apart at the bottom, causing a wide gap, your jacket is too tight. If the pull is strong enough, you risk the button popping right off.
To ensure that your jacket is not too large, watch if the jacket sags forward. It should not hang away from your body.
If your jacket hangs even a little loose on your body, you risk looking overwhelmed by your suit.
The perfect suit fit will allow the two sides of the jacket to meet flawlessly when you button it up. You should feel like the suit jacket is gently hugging you.
Also, when wearing a suit jacket, the number one rule is that it needs to be buttoned when you are standing up.
Do not button up all the way; only the top button should be fastened if you’re wearing a two-button suit. Fasten the middle button if it’s a three-button jacket.
The jacket sleeve begins right where your natural shoulder ends; that is where the seam for the jacket shoulder should fall.
If this seam hangs over the natural slope of the shoulder, the jacket is too large and loose. Avoid this look at all costs, or you risk looking like a child playing dress-up.
If you find that the shoulder of the jacket is bunched up close to your neck, the jacket is too small. It causes the sleeve seam to creep up past your shoulder line and create a tight feeling in your shoulders.
A sure sign it is too small is if you cannot comfortably relax your shoulders.
Both of these poorly fitting jackets will create unsightly lumps in your silhouette and lead to a bad suit fit.
The perfect suit fit will ensure your jacket lies flat on the shoulders.
A well-fitting collar will sit evenly against your shirt collar on the back of your neck. It should be gently resting there, with no gaps or no pressing tightly against your shirt collar.
If there is a gap, you will see that it often looks as though you could stick a coat hook right in the jacket. That is another indicator that the jacket is too large.
A too-tight collar will often fold upon itself, like an accordion. Not only does it look bad, but it also feels terrible. You will know right away that the jacket is too small and want to take it off.
The Jacket Length
An inappropriate jacket length is a dead giveaway; it is a poor fit. It’s one of the essential suit fit traits, yet it’s often forgotten.
A helpful way to measure precisely where the jacket should fall is by your height. A good suit jacket length will fall around the middle-crotch level.
If that is unhelpful in determining how long your jacket should be, you can guide by your hands.
Stand straight in front of a full-length mirror. Keep your hands down at your sides.
For a perfect suit jacket length, it should end in the middle of your hands, somewhere around the tip of your thumb.
If the jacket length extends beyond the fingers of your arm, then your jacket is too big.
You will know if the jacket is too short when it barely touches your wrist.
When you’re buying a new suit, you will often see a letter next to the size number. It represents the length of the suit.
If you are over 6’2″ tall, the jacket can fall slightly longer than the recommended mid-crotch level. I often advise tall people to go for a suit jacket that is labeled “long”.
People between 5’9” and 6’1” can choose the “regular” suit jacket version. If you are under 5’8”, pick a suit jacket that is labeled “short”.
The Sleeve Length
The length of your jacket sleeve is critical. You should be able to see the cuff of your dress shirt.
If the whole cuff is exposed, then the jacket is too short. If the shirt cuff is not visible at all, the jacket is too long.
The perfect sleeve length will ensure ¼ to ½ an inch of the dress shirt cuff exposed beyond the jacket.
Another helpful way to measure your jacket sleeve is to stand with your arms at your sides.
Flex your wrists so that your palms are facing down to the floor. Your jacket cuff should end at ¼ inch above the back of your hand.
If your jacket sleeve goes at all lower, you need to get your tailor to hem your sleeves. It can be done easily without ruining the integrity of the jacket.
How Should Suit Pants Fit
Ill-fitting pants are an eyesore. They look goofy if they are too large, and sometimes offensive if they are too small.
Even worse is how they feel. Nobody feels comfortable in a pair of pants that don’t sit correctly on them.
Here are a few tips on what to look for and how to fit your suit pants.
First of all, fabric squeezing your seat is highly uncomfortable. You should not feel any restriction in the seat of your pants or your crotch.
Onlookers should not detect any fabric that is pulled, wrinkled, squeezed, or sagged. When a pair of pants is too small, the material will wrinkle up.
On the flip side, if there is too much fabric, the bottom of the pants will hang down, creating a saggy look. If your suit pants are somewhat loose like this, they are too large.
The perfect fit will ensure that the fabric on the backside of your suit pants smoothly covers your behind. The material should look as if it was gently draped across your bottom.
The legs on a well-fitting pair of suit pants should hug your upper thigh without squeezing.
Like the old Kellog’s cereal commercial used to say, you should be able to “pinch and inch” on either side of your thigh.
If there is more than an inch when you pull the fabric together, there is too much material there, and the legs are too loose.
On the other hand, if you cannot even pull together an inch of fabric, your pants are too tight.
They would probably feel uncomfortable, and they would definitely look odd. Too tight suit pants are never appropriate.
Your pants should not feel restrictive. If you can squat while wearing them and easily bend your knees, they probably are loose enough.
They should gently taper toward your ankle, creating a slimming line as they move down toward your shoe.
The Trouser Break
If you are unfamiliar with the term “trouser break”, don’t feel bad. It is not a specific part of the construction of the pants, nor is it widely focused on.
The trouser break is the crease at the ankle, where the fabric meets the top of the shoe.
The perfect hem should be long enough for the shoe to interfere with the cuff, causing a subtle wrinkle. The cuff can rest on top of the shoe, but only just barely.
The pants are too large if they create multiple wrinkles. It can be easily adjusted, though. In fact, most suit pants come unhemmed and should be adjusted by a tailor.
If there is no break and the pants show too much sock when you sit down or walk, then it means they are too short.
Avoid this error by buying longer pants, or letting out a little bit of fabric from the hemline.
Bad Suit Fit Signs
Some suits may not fit in small ways that are easy to fix. If the pants or sleeves are too long, a tailor can easily adjust the hem.
Yet there are some suit errors that all the tailoring in the world just can’t save. These suits are better to avoid altogether.
Here is a simple way to immediately tell if the suit fit is bad and the jacket is too small for you:
Standing straight, button the jacket. Look for wrinkles that extend from the button and form an X shape across your body. If you spot an X, you need to pick a new, larger suit jacket.
It cannot be saved with tailoring. It isn’t just that the torso is too small on the suit jacket. The X-wrinkle pulls on the shoulders and the back, and it may pull the jacket button right off!
Sometimes you will see that the shoulders on a jacket will become bunched up. It makes for a very wrinkly silhouette.
If you don’t have a smooth outline, your suit fit is wrong, and you might end up looking sloppy.
This effect happens when the suit jacket is too large for your frame. The problem may be a matter of length, meaning it is simply too long.
It may also be that your shoulders are the problem. If they are not broad enough to fill out the jacket, you will need to seek a smaller fitting suit jacket.
Overlarge shoulder pads in a suit jacket can cause the fabric to tuck in around the upper arms.
The too big shoulder pads cause the seams of the shoulders to extend beyond the upper arm, pulling up the sleeve fabric.
This effect can also happen if you do not have good posture. If you slouch, and your jacket is not fitted to consider that, you will end up with wrinkly arms.
In both of the above instances, the only solution is to buy a larger suit jacket.
If you are finding wrinkles in the fabric across your seat, then your suit pants are too tight. Your bottom pulls the fabric up around toward your waist, causing unsightly lines.
More concerning than how your suit looks – is how it feels. Pants that are too small look bad, certainly, but they also feel uncomfortable.
As all the fabric pulls up toward your waist, it brings all the material up. And most of it will settle as far up against your crotch as it can get.
Nobody likes the feeling of their pants trying to gather as far up on your body as possible. Just get larger pants and save yourself the discomfort.
It is important to research the type of suit that is ideal for your needs and what color suits you best.
But the suit fit is paramount. And when it comes to suits, rules should be bent, but not broken.
When you’re finally ready and confident that you’re buying one, try to check as many of the suit fit points from above. Keep in mind that a tailor can make small alterations, especially around the pants.
But tailors are no magicians. You want as few changes as possible in order to preserve the integrity of the suit.