I recently attended a gala event for which the invitation stated cocktail wear. I decided to follow the dress code to the letter. But upon arriving at the event, I found many young men in attendance were wearing poorly fitted suits that did not flatter them as suits should.
I resisted the urge to approach them with a few guiding points. So here is my guide to those young men, and any gentleman in the market for formal wear, on how to buy a great fitting suit.
The jacket should cover your seat completely. There should be no chance of seeing the lower half of your seat when you are standing. The sleeves ought to reach your wrist bone, not the top of your thumb. This allows for an inch of your shirt’s cuff to show through. The front of your jacket should drape over your chest without breaking. If there are signs of the fabric buckling in the chest area, chances are the jacket is too tight. The back of the jacket should fall nicely over your hips and seat. There should be no tension around the waist. If there is, again, the jacket is too tight. If you have a slim build, you can wear a jacket with a center, or side vents. If you have a fuller body, opt for side vents.
It isn’t uncommon to come across men in suits that don’t fit their height requirements. Jackets come in a range of lengths—short (S/C), regular (R) or tall (T/L) fits. For a good fit, it is important to understand which length to buy. If you are wearing a regular fit but should be in a tall, then the proportions of the jacket will be unflattering. The sleeves will be too long and so will the body of the jacket. If you are a regular fit and you purchase a short, then the sleeves will be too short and so will the length of the jacket. Therefore, it is important to get the right length, for the suit to look proportionate to our height and build.
A well-fitted trouser will flow and drape nicely around all the stress points—waist, seat, crotch and thighs. If the pockets are sticking out like Shrek’s ears, then the pants are too tight. There should be no tension around the thighs, no matter how large they are. Your pants should not be so tight that the imprint from the hem of your athletic boxers shows through. I know that tight pants are in, but better-fitting pants will flatter your body with drape and movement.
Higher waisted pants look much better under the jacket than a shorter rise. Aim for the waist of the pants to hit your natural waistline. Lastly, tailor the length of your pants to be longer than your ankle, and covering your socks when you are stood up. The opening of the pants ought to be around 7.5” to 8.25 inches. Not too narrow but with a pleasant flow.
When buying your suit always purchase with the 4Fs in mind: Form, fit, fabric & function.
- Form: right shape for your body.
- Fit: only minor alterations required.
- Fabric: will the fabric perform in the conditions I need it to?
- Function: is It right for the setting or occasion?
Please consider these key points when purchasing your next suit.
Earl Rich is an Executive Style Consultant advising men on developing their professional style, to align with their professional brand.