A great fitting suit is one of those items that every man should have in his closet (notice we said man).
Ideally, you’ll have one in each of the following colors: navy, gray, khaki, and, of course, black. But if you are just getting started cultivating your grown-up wardrobe, start with a classic black or dark navy blue.
Finding a great suit goes way beyond the color, however. What makes a great suit a great suit is how it fits your body. Whatever shape you are in, whatever body type you have, a great fitting suit will make you look good and feel good. Just try it.
If we are being honest, the best fitting suit you ever wear will be the one you have custom made, obviously. But most of us are on a budget and can’t afford to get every suit made for our exact body measurements.
The closest we can get is finding a solid off-the-rack suit and taking it to an experience tailor who can work a little magic.
Before doing this, however, you first have to know what makes a “good” fit. It’s also important to know just how much tailoring a tailor can actually do and how to communicate exactly what you want.
To make it a little easier, we’ve created this handy guide for you.
A Detailed Guide on How to Get the Perfect Fitting Suit
The Trouser Break
The Trouser Break is that small wrinkle you see in your pants just above the top of your shoe, caused by, well, the top of your shoe.
Unless ankle-length pants are your thing, this is a subtle feature you’ll learn to love. The keyword here is being subtle. The pants just rest on the top of your shoe.
Anything longer than that and you’ll end up with bunched up pants that just look like they are too long for you. The good news is this is one of the easiest fixes because it basically comes down to just hemming the pants.
When you start shopping for dress pants (if you haven’t already at a nice department store), you’ll notice most pants come unhemmed with the general assumption you’re taking them to a tailor and getting them hemmed accordingly.
When you take your pants in, make sure you bring in the pair of shoes you expect to be wearing with them most often.
Also known as the Butt, this part of the pants should sit loosely against your underwear and drape smoothly over your backside, whether you’ve got a lot of junk back there or none at all.
If there are wrinkles under your back end that means the pants fit too snuggly, while U-shaped sagging on the backside means the pants are too loose.
Unlike hemming the cuff, tailoring the seat is a much harder job. Tailors generally can take in a little on either side of the waistband with little effort, but if the pants were really loose to start with, the tailor may not be able to do much without pulling out the pockets and resewing the pants.
On the flipside, there is only so much material that can be let out to make a pair of pants fit looser.
Generally speaking, a good jacket will sit just above the area on the butt where it starts to curve in to meet the thighs (so, bottom of the cheek).
However, there is no hard and fast rule so anywhere in that general vicinity is okay. A good rule of thumb is to relax your arms and hands and see where the hem of the jacket hits.
You want it to fall right around the middle of your hands. If the jacket is longer than your arms it’s too long. If you notice a little flare at the bottom of the jacket when you look at the back, it’s too short.
While it’s fairly simple to take the hem up a little, doing too much in either direction will start to make the pockets on the front look out of place, so keep that in mind when trying on jackets.
What’s the right amount of shirt to see under the sleeve of the jacket?
Half of an inch.
You don’t need to bring a measuring tape. Usually you can just eyeball it and tell it you’re seeing too much or too little shirt. And you never want the shirt to be completed covered.
To button or unbutton, that is the question.
Always see what the jacket looks like both ways when trying it on. If the lapels hang forward when it’s buttoned it means the jacket is too loose. If you notice it flaring at the bottom, it’s too tighter (and maybe too short, as you just learned).
You should be able to easily button and unbutton it with no pulling. There should be no wrinkles around the button when you button it.
You also shouldn’t be able to see any part of the shirt underneath unless you’re moving around. A good tailor can let your jacket out, but again, there are limits.
Two common collar problems are the collar standing away from the shirt if it is too loose and the collar looking bunched up at the top if it’s too tight.
Your collar should be resting against the shirt, lightly touching, with no gaps in between. It may surprise you, but the collar is one of the most important things to pay attention to when buying a jacket.
There just isn’t a lot a tailor can do to fix the collar. Usually, a problem with the collar is something bigger and more costly anyway like poor sizing or construction. If the collar isn’t fitting right, look for a new jacket.
Signs of a Bad Fitting Suit
If you’re starting to sweat a little, don’t worry. This seems like a lot to remember, but when you hit the store if you can at least remember these bad fit warnings you’ll be fine:
● An “X” around the button is a sign of strain, which likely extends to other areas of the jacket and puts you at risk for a button popping off.
● Should Divots, or the little dips in the arms just under the shoulder, means the shoulders of the suit are too big. Try a smaller size or maybe a different brand altogether.
● Twisted sleeves are a sign the sleeve wasn’t sewn properly to the shoulders. It’s expensive to fix and just isn’t good craftsmanship. Find a new jacket.
● Shoulder wrinkles on top of your shoulder indicate your shoulders don’t adequately fill the space (sorry). Instead of upping your weight at the gym, try a slimmer cut suit or go down a size.