As the owner of a custom clothing company, it’s easy for me to sit back and just tell everyone to commission their own custom garments. However, it’s not a luxury that everyone can afford, so let’s take a look at how to steer clear of a bad fit when buying off the rack pieces.
The very first obstacle to overcome is just understanding that in order for some areas to fit well, there will be concessions in terms of fit with the others. Often times a consumer will purchase a garment which fits the chest or stomach region, but may miss a key fit elsewhere. This is quite common since suit companies will try and create generic sizes that fit as many customers as possible. And with said, let’s take a look at the two most prevalent and commonly misworn pieces.
A suit jacket or blazer will be the most immediate item that everyone sees; therefore they will quickly notice the fit of the chest an
d stomach in your garment. Although slimmer fitting pieces are ubiquitous now, there seems to be a blurred line separating slim fit from simply too tight. In case you’re unsure, here are a few tips to keep you away from the danger zone. If the jacket pulls away from the chest or buckles mid-lapel, the chest is too small. It’s also a giveaway if your shoulders are bulging out towards the front of the jacket. Also, if the edge of your jacket buckles at the top of your arm (see below), then the shoulders are too wide. If you find that the jacket puckers at the back of the neck, it just means your shoulders are sloped or your arms fall very forward. However, this does NOT mean that anything is wrong with your body, it’s just that ready to wear (RTW) suits are made for the masses and have a much straighter shoulder line with very little break.
The sleeve and jacket length are defined by the wearer’s preferences but I will give you updated rules of thumb in case you’re unsure. If your shirt sleeve falls to your thumb knuckle (base of the wrist) then your jacket sleeve should rest slightly above that. You should show a minimum of 1/4″ of the sleeve but no more than 1″, and that’s if wearing French cuffs. The jacket length should fall right at the bottom of your crotch line or at the bottom of your front pockets if wearing slacks. This will allow for a more modern look without coming up too short.
Pants are unfortunately an afterthought for most men, especially when it comes to dress pants. As I mentioned earlier, we are navigating through a period of slimmer garments and are coming across more and more gents with ill-fitting pieces. A streamlined tapered pant shows well, but it should never be tight to the point of not being able to sit down or fit anything in your pocket. Your pants should also not be large enough that both legs can fit on one side. Ideally, you want the width of your pant to be structured where the cuff covers the top line or opening of the shoe.
When it comes to length, the ever-present rule of thumb is that your pant leg should be long enough to allow for a very slight divot (break) in the pant. This is depicted in the far left image below. However, today’s gents are showing a bit more ankle which was brought about by Tom Ford and the European influence. These days showing skin is okay, but only to a certain extent. We all have ankles, and that’s fine, but people may not want to see the hair on your legs whilst seated in a meeting. It’s similarly uncouth to see dress pants pooling at the bottom of one’s leg, so identify a good length that works for you and stick to it!
The very last element of wearing pants that I’ll cover is one this is commonly overlooked. This happens to be the waistline. Simply put, if you can’t wear your pants without a belt, Your Pants Don’t Fit! Pants with waists that are too large lead to material bunching and gives you a disheveled appearance. Instead, opt for no belt loops, waist adjusters, suspenders (braces), or have the pant altered at the problem area. Understanding all of these nuances will completely change your relationship with suits; especially ones that are purchased “off the peg”.
Written by Omar Kinnebrew