When it comes to suiting, a lot of men struggle with fit. I get a lot of questions like… How long should my jacket be? Are my pants the correct fit and length? Is my suit too loose or tight?
Since I get these questions so often, I wanted to share a couple of pointers you can follow next time you need to fit check your suit.
First things first, dressing for your body type is important. If you don’t know your body type, check out this article.
Different body types need to accommodate different fits to help your body look more proportionate.
For the gym buffs out there, you might think you need to wear an extra roomy suit, but that’s not the case. In order for your suit to fit well, it should shape your body without hugging it tightly.
- Wear a fitted jacket (get it tailored to fitted to you)
- Make sure your pants taper (slim out) from knee to ankle (this looks more modern)
- Consider ditching the shoulder pads (you don’t want to add more bulk to your shoulders)
The jacket below looks good, but the pants are not tapered:
- Wear a loose suit (it looks sloppy)
- Wear loose pants (they should look slim without being tight)
- Wear a loose jacket and tight pants (you will not look proportionate)
- Have shoulder pads (this well help broaden your rounded shoulders)
- Jacket should come in at waist (this makes you look like a trapezoid)
- Pants should be slim not skinny (skinny will make upper body look way bigger compared to your legs)
- Wear loose pants (it looks sloppy)
- Wear a loose jacket (it will make your upper body look even bigger)
- Wear a short jacket (your waist will look very short)
- Wear a fitted jacket (this will accentuate your shape)
- Wear pants right to your shoe (this looks modern)
- Wear slim pants (makes you look taller)
Even thought the image below is a tux, it still shows how a well fitted suit on a trapezoid should look.
- Wear a loose jacket (looks dated)
- Wear loose pants that are too long (looks sloppy)
- Wear a semi-fitted jacket (not too tight)
- Wear slim straight pants to balance with the top (skinny pants will make your upper body look huge)
- Wear your jacket too long (this will make you look shorter)
- Wear your pants too loose (this will make you dated)
- Wear your pants too tight (this will make your upper body look huge compared to your legs)
- Wear a fitted jacket (not too slim)
- Wear slim pants (not too tight)
- Wear a jacket too big or long (your head will look small compared to your body)
- Wear pants too loose (it will look dated)
- Wear a two button jacket
- Wear slim pants
- Consider wearing your jacket slightly shorter
- Wear your pants too tight (makes your upper body look awkwardly bigger)
- Wear 3 button jackets (will exaggerate torso length)
- Wear your pants too low (will exaggerate torso length)
- Wear jacket at correct length (too long or short will make you look shorter)
- Slim pants (looks modern)
- Wear a jacket too long (will make you look shorter)
- Wear pants too loose (will make you look wider)
- Wear your pants too long (will make you look shorter)
Short Torso vs Long Torso
- If you have a long torso, wear your jacket slightly shorter (makes your torso appear shorter)
- If you have a long torso, have a break in your pants (makes legs look longer in comparison)
- If you have a short torso, wear your jacket at the normal length (when you fold your hands, jacket should end where the knuckles on your fingers are)
- If you have a short torso, wear your pants lower at the waist
- If you have a short torso, go for slanted pockets on your jacket
- If you have a long torso, don’t wear your pants too low (will make your torso look extra long)
- If you have a long torso, don’t wear a 3 button suit (will make your torso look extra long)
- If you have a long torso, don’t wear your jacket too long (will exaggerate waist length)
- If you have a short torso, don’t wear your jacket too short
- If you have a short torso, don’t wear your pants up really high
- If you have a short torso, avoid bulky pockets on your blazer
No matter what, your suit should be comfortable. Different materials can achieve different levels of comfort. If you feel uncomfortable in fitted clothing, try going for a suit with a stretchy material. Also, if you are unsure about the fit, talk to a tailor to get a second opinion. It’s perfectly normal for an off the rack suit to not fit like a glove right away.
Alright, now let’s move onto general guidelines to achieve a great fit no matter what your body type.
Jacket or Blazer Fit
The jacket should fit snugly but not feel too tight or too loose. The shoulders should fit perfectly, with the seam sitting on the natural shoulder line. The sleeves should end at the wrist bone and reveal about 1/2 inch (1-2 cm) of shirt cuff. The length of the jacket should cover the seat and rest just above the curve of the buttocks.
Note: These notes apply to both single and double-breasted jackets
What about double-breasted jackets?
If you really want to stand out of the crowd, consider a double breasted blazer. Men of any body type can pull off double breasted jackets and they look great. Your jacket should fit similar in length and shape.
Button Tip: Your bottom button is not meant to be fastened (I know, weird, but trust me). When you sit down, unbutton your jacket completely.
Pants or Trouser Fit
The pants should sit at the waist without feeling too tight or too loose. The seat should be comfortable and without sagging. The length should be just enough to touch the top of the shoes but not bunch up. The pant break should be minimal, meaning the fabric should only create a small crease where it hits the shoe.
The shirt should fit snugly but not too tightly around the neck, and the collar should be comfortable when buttoned. The sleeves should end just at the wrist bone and reveal about 1/2 inch (1-2 cm) of the shirt cuff. The shirt should fit comfortably around the chest and waist, without billowing or sagging.
Your tie should be snug but not too tight, with the knot sitting neatly at the center of the collar. The length of the tie should reach the waistband of the pants.
What about socks, pocket squares, vests and shoes?
Your socks, pocket squares, vests and shoes all play a role in making sure your suit fits well and looks coordinated.
Your socks should compliment the pants and be long enough to avoid showing skin when seated. If you’re wearing a pocket square, your socks and pocket square should compliment each other.
Note: compliment doesn’t mean to match it exactly, but the two colors or prints should work well together. Refer to this visual to see how to pick colors that compliment each other.
Your pocket square doesn’t need to exactly match your tie, instead it should compliment your tie (i.e. a light blue tie goes well with a printed pocket square with various shades of blue).
Curious how to fold your pocket square? Check out this graphic to learn.
If wearing a 3 piece suit, a couple things to keep in mind to make sure your vest looks flattering are…
- The vest material should be the same material as the suit
- Your vest should coordinate with your suit (color wise)
- Your vest shouldn’t be longer than 1 inch past the waist of your pants (i.e. 1 inch after the belt loop ends)
- Your vest should be a v-neck and your blazer should be deep enough to show the vest
Note: your shirt should not stick out under your vest. In the photo below, his pants should be higher up.
Your shoes should compliment the suit color. The chart below is an excellent resource to help you decide what shoe color goes with what suit color.