The Suit Guide – the perfect fit for your suit
A suit is undoubtedly a basic component of the well-dressed gentleman’s wardrobe. It ensures you look stylish and elegant at weddings, an elegant evening dinner and in the office. It also gives its wearer self-confidence and gravitas.
The key item in a suit is the jacket. So it is important to ensure that it fits well. For irrespective of its quality a perfect fit determines whether or not it looks good. And this is often where the problem lies. For even if it is the right size, it is the small details that enhance or detract from the perfect look. Your suit should look as if it is an elegant second skin. Giorgio Armani said, “if all you see is the suit, then you’re badly dressed.”
In this article, we will show you what you should pay attention to when choosing trousers and jackets to ensure they fit perfectly.
- The collar
- Shoulders & Back
- The waist
- The lapel
- The buttons
- The sleeves
- Fabric & Interior
- The length
The Jacket – the perfect fit
1. The collar
A well-groomed appearance starts with a small detail. The collar of a well-fitting jacket should lie against the collar of your shirt. When you move, it should ideally not move away from your neck. And the shirt should show a little above the jacket collar.
2. Shoulders and back
The shoulder area is key to a jacket looking stylish and fitting well. A tailor cannot alter this area retrospectively, so it is crucial to ensure it’s right before you buy. The shoulders of the jacket should be a comfortable fit. The sleeve seam should fit along your shoulders or just a little behind the shoulder slope. We are talking about the millimetres, here. Your shoulders should fill out the jacket without pulling at the sleeves. If the jacket has shoulder pads, these give the upper silhouette, the head and neck area, a harmonious, slightly sloping movement.
To check that it fits your shoulders properly, lean against a wall. If you lean so that your arm touches the wall, the shoulder of the jacket should touch the wall at the same time as your shoulder. If the shoulder of the jacket touches the wall before your own shoulder, then the jacket is too big. If the seam is pulling in the shoulder area, then the jacket is too tight.
Horizontal or vertical creases should not appear between your shoulder blades. This is a sure sign that the jacket is either too tight or too loose for you. The back area should provide you with sufficient room to move. Most jackets have one or two vents in the back from the waist to the hem. When standing with the jacket buttoned up, the fabric areas next to the vent should fall smoothly and straight down. There shouldn’t be any gaps.
3. The waist
Even though the word ‘waist’ is rarely used in relation to men, it is essential to ensure a jacket fits well. A tailored cut to the waist also has the advantage of enhancing your shoulders as it makes them look more muscular and masculine. In addition, the position of the jacket waist can conceal the wearer’s very high, or very low, waist. But it is for you to decide how tailored your jacket should be as it is a matter of taste. Basically, you cannot go wrong if your jacket fits your body shape. As a rule of thumb, no more than a clenched fist should fit between your jacket and stomach when the jacket is buttoned up. And you should be able to push your flat hand under the jacket in the chest area without it pulling. The button provides another indication that it is the right fit. If the jacket can be buttoned at the waist without it pulling, then this shows that it fits well.
Incidentally, your tailor can help with ensuring the jacket fits well. It is usually relatively simple to tailor the jacket to fit more snugly. However, having it let out is more challenging. If your tailor alters your jacket in the waist, keep an eye on the sleeve width to make sure it is kept in proportion.
4. The lapel
The lapel is the upper front edge of the jacket which is folded outwards. There are two important considerations here: the fit in the neck area, and the fabric run down to the first button. Ensure there isn’t a gap in the neck area between your jacket and your shirt. It is also important that the lapel lies snugly against your body as far as the first button, without stretching. The lapel should lie against your shirt and not become creased. The causes of such problems often lie in wearing the wrong size or an unsuitable cut for your shape. Also, if the finish is too stiff or there are glued interlinings, these can detract from the look and make it difficult to move easily.
5. The buttons
A common mistake is fastening several buttons. This applies to both double-breasted and single-breasted jackets: fasten only one button, no matter how many buttons the jacket has. For jackets with two buttons, generally the top button can be done up. For styles with three buttons, you fasten the middle one. As an exception, the top button can also be fastened, if desired. But the bottom button is never done up, unless it is a one-button jacket, of course.
The number of buttons to choose depends on the size of your body. As a rule of thumb, the taller you are, the more buttons your jacket can have. Naturally, current fashion trends will also influence the matter. At the moment, two-button jackets are very popular.
6. The sleeves
The length of the jacket sleeve is the right fit when it finishes at your wrist. The base joint of your thumb serves as a guide here. It is important that the sleeve is neither too wide nor too narrow. There should be room to move, but you should not be able to see into the sleeve.
To determine the correct length of the shirt, follow this simple tip: stand upright and let your arms hang down loosely. Your shirt cuff should hang approximately one to two centimetres maximum beyond the sleeve of your jacket. If, when in this position, the jacket sleeve rests on the back of your hand, then it is the correct length.
Unfortunately, sleeves rarely fit perfectly from the outset. However, they can be easily shortened. And even lengthening them does not cause too much difficulty in most cases.
7. Fabric and interior
The fabric and its interior are determined by the conditions in which you will be using the jacket and trousers. When choosing the outer and inner fabric, you should bear in mind not only the occasion and activity, but also the time of year. And of course, your body’s own characteristics and your preferences are also important. As are the temperature and the occasion. If your suit is worn frequently, thinner quality fabrics will rub and begin to acquire a shiny appearance. Thicker fabric will cause you to perspire more easily, so a half-lined jacket could be an alternative option.
Quality is the most important factor with regard to choosing the fabric. Because if you buy cheap items, you will often end up buying twice over. Cheap items are often easily recognisable and have major disadvantages in comfort and breathability. Sustainability is also an increasingly important factor. Natural fibres such as linen and cotton are breathable, comfortable and look elegant and stylish. A good indication of quality is when the label of a well-known manufacturer is sewn into the fabric next to the manufacturer’s label. Your taste and considerations about the occasion come into play when deciding which colour to choose or whether to opt for plain or patterned fabric.
8. The length
The classic length is determined by a simple formula. First, you measure from the highest point of the neck to the floor. Then divide this figure by two and subtract two centimetres from it. If your jacket is still too short or too long, you may wish to change to a longer or broader size.
It goes without saying that fashion trends also influence the jacket lengths. In the past, a perfect jacket would cover the pelvis and backside completely. Recently fashion has favoured ever shorter styles. The length of a jacket is not only influenced by current trends, but also by your personal preference. Generally speaking, a stylish jacket should definitely cover your belt and at least the opening of your trouser pockets. This will ensure that your backside is covered to a large extent.
The tousers – how do they fit perfectly?
Trousers are important as they can show you off to your advantage and hide problem areas. They play a crucial role in creating a stylish appearance. The length of your suit trousers is key. A perfect pair of trousers is neither too wide, nor too tight. They should fit relatively snugly, but leave enough room for you to move easily. Use the following guide: the bottom or hems of your trouser legs should gently brush the top of your shoes. A small half-break at the front is also permitted. Under no circumstances should there be any horizontal folds. For classic trouser legs that have a wider cut, we recommend they be shortened on a slant. This means that the trousers legs are about two centimetres longer at the back than at the front. The front crease then finishes on the lacing of your shoes, whereas the rear crease ends just above the upper edge of the heel of your shoe. In general, the length varies depending on the trouser leg. The wider the trouser leg, the longer it can be. According to the latest fashion trends, leg openings are narrower, and are known as “slim or sharp fit” trousers. These finish exactly half way along your shoe and do not cause wrinkling. Our tip: when wearing suits for business, make sure that the trousers do not completely reveal your shoes when walking thus ensuring your socks remain concealed.
Bear in mind that suit trousers sit on your waist and not on your hips. The waistband should be neither too loose nor too tight. When tucking your shirt into your trousers, it should not be visible beneath the trouser fabric, and you should be able to sit down comfortably. The crease should fall lightly over your knees.
How do you know if your trousers are the perfect length? Sit down and check if your trouser leg has hitched up only a few centimetres. Take care to avoid displaying a flash of flesh in the area between your shoes and trousers. Choose monochrome socks that match the colour of your suit.
Most suits nowadays are available with unhemmed trouser legs meaning that you can have them altered by a tailor to fit as you wish after purchasing them. However, it is important to have a good fit at the waist and thighs as it is not easy to make alterations in these areas.
Different cuts and fits
Sharp fit – figure-hugging and narrow
Sharp fit or Slim fit are narrow and figure-hugging cuts that lie close to the body. These include all modern suit types that are characterised by a close-fitting cut. Sharp Fit jackets are usually shorter than Regular fit styles and extend only as far as the trouser waistband. In the case of a Sharp fit suit, many men prefer to wear the trouser leg of already slim-fitting trousers only as far as the ankle, so that it is possible to see something of the socks.
Figure type: slim
Modern fit – fashionably waisted
Modern fit suits are the perfect balance between Sharp and Regular fit. They have a perfect, modern cut for all those who do not want to have a suit that is too tight, or too wide. It is a happy medium – a classic cut with a modern interpretation! For men who prefer a figure-hugging cut, but do not want their ability to move freely to be restricted. The jacket fits loosely and is slightly tailored, but has a pleasant width. Trousers in the Modern fit style, for example, have narrower knee width and leg openings and a slightly dropped waistband.
Figure type: slim to medium figure
Regular fit – wide, comfortable fit
A Regular fit suit has a slightly more generous cut, both in the trousers and in the jacket. This fit is the traditional and classic fit amongst suits, but it does not mean that it is old-fashioned. It just means that it sports a straight cut for men who want a comfortable fit and for whom maximum freedom of movement is important. So – smart, but not restrictive! This cut has a clean and calm line. The clothing loosely follows the lines of the body and the fabrics are close only to the widest areas of the body, usually the shoulder area. In this style, the trouser leg should not end at the ankle as the cut of the leg is slightly wider. This is where a classic trouser length comes into play!
Figure type: medium to large
#1: Before wearing your suit for the first time, cut the stitches on the pockets, and vents on the back of the jacket as they are often sewn up. This will ensure that you can determine if the size you have selected is a perfect fit.
#2: Take your time when buying a suit. Walk, run, dance and jump while wearing it! The idea is to move around. If it feels good, and you have taken the points mentioned above into consideration, then buy it!
#3: Whichever fit you decide on, you should feel good when wearing it. A suit should give you confidence and respect. Make sure the fit is comfortable, but not too tight. This applies to both the jacket and the trousers.
#4: Usually, it is not possible to buy a perfectly fitting jacket and trousers off the peg. As everyone has a unique body size and stature, it is highly likely that some parts of the suit will have to be altered. Therefore include a little more in your budget for alterations. These will be worth the extra expense! A high-quality, well-fitting jacket and matching trousers will be part of your life for many years.
#5: Less is more. Quality before quantity. Focus on specific details. One or two features often ensure the success of your outfit. And most elements of a gentleman’s wardrobe can be combined with others and worn for almost every occasion.
#6: Suitable manners. Polite, attentive, courteous and respectful. Don’t just look like a gentleman, but make it a way of life.
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Your CARL GROSS Team