You’ll never look better than when you’re wearing a well-fitted suit. They’re designed to accentuate all of a man’s best features: they can enhance the broadness of your shoulders, elongate your body, and smooth away any bulges you may wish to hide on your belly. However, when a suit fits incorrectly, the opposite happens – rather than looking like a stud, you’ll look like a dud.
There are three general ways in which a gentleman can purchase a suit: off-the-rack, altered from a block, or tailor-made from scratch. In this post we'll only discuss the first one as it’s far more common and less expensive.
Please note the suit silhouette isn’t an absolute value, the most important thing here is that your suit should follow the lines of your body. As always, remember to dress for your body type, not according what happens to be fashionable at the time. Also, don't try to dressed based on the body type you may wish you had. Instead of looking good, you'll just have an ill fitting suit.
Here are some pointers to make better informed choices for your own wardrobe when selecting a suit:
Shoulders are the most important part of a jacket. If they fit correctly, the rest of the jacket can be altered quite easily to compliment your body type. However, if the shoulders don’t fit properly, just put it back on the rack and keep looking.
The most important thing is that the line that forms atop your shoulders all the way to your arms should be uninterrupted and smooth. No wrinkles, no bumps, no creases. Ever.
The dreaded collar gap
This one is not as obvious, most of us don’t even notice but it’s in fact pretty important to having a good looking suit. Your jacket collar should always follow the line of your shirt collar. In other words no gap should be visible between them; the jacket collar should look like it’s securely attached to the back of your shirt collar, even if you’re waiving your arms over your head.
Buttoning and lapel fit
Jacket lapels come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Whichever style you choose, it must fit your body type correctly. As a rule of thumb, the top button of a two-button suit, and the second button of a three-button suit should never fall below your belly button.
Now, about the fit. If your jacket is too tight, you’ll look like you’ve gained a few pounds in your mid-section since you bought the suit. You’ll notice this because the fabric will pull at the fastening point, forming an “X” with the wrinkles.
Want to learn an easy way to test if the size is right? Simply slip your hand, palm down, into your suit between the lapels and shirt, where the button is fastened. Then make a fist. If the suit pulls the button up and feels snug then you’ve got it, if it is too tight, go up a size or start working out like there’s no tomorrow.
To see if the length of your jacket is right - just stand up straight with your arms at your sides. If your knuckles are even with the bottom of your jacket, you're ready to start rocking that suit.
Proper sleeve length
A jacket sleeve is one of the most noticeable and difficult parts to hide when it comes to an ill-fitting suit. If it's too short or overly long, you’ll look like you’ve borrowed it. The good news is that you can avoid this unattractive situation by going to your tailor. Really, it’s an easy and inexpensive fix that will make a big difference.
It’s very easy to check if the length is right. Just stand up straight with your arms at your sides. The sleeve should come to the base of your hand and the shirt cuff should be visible somewhere between a quarter inch and half an inch.
The right trousers
Regardless of how well fitted your jacket is, if your pants don’t match your body type, you'll look like a schlump.
The pointers here are pretty simple. The waist of your pants should be comfortable, yet snug. Note that your pants should stay on even if you aren’t wearing a belt. If they don’t, they're too big for you.
Length-wise, your pant leg should fall straight down your leg without any wrinkles or creasing and with the hem falling right on top of your shoe laces. Wondering about the break? It's totally up to you, however medium and short are recommended. Always avoid a full break.
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