How a suit should fit

You don’t have to be in shape to find a suit that fits.

Picking out the right suit means picking one with proportions that will make you look more athletic. Look for a suit that broadens your shoulders, enlarges your chest, slims your torso, and makes you look taller.

Broadening the Shoulders

The shoulders of a jacket shouldn’t be so wide that the head appears too small or so narrow that it appears too large.  The jacket shoulders should meet up with the natural shoulder line, though they can extend 0.5 inches either side without looking exaggerated.

 

Patrick Johnson of P.Johnson Tailors, demonstrates how a jacket shoulder should sit.

Enlarging the Chest

Lapels can make the chest appear larger or smaller depending on their size. Wider lapels have greater visual weight and therefore force the eye to linger on the chest, thus enlarging it. Unless you have has an extremely narrow chest or you prefer for extremely wide and aggressive lapels, a medium lapel width (about 8.5 cm) is a safe bet. Undersized lapels (7 or less cm) have the effect of making the chest appear underdeveloped.

 

tumblr_mf6aaglgqK1qc8xtuo1_r1_1280
Jake Grantham, of Anglo Italian with medium width lapels

Slimming the Torso

The torso can be slimmed by ensuring that the jacket is properly fitted around the waist This can be accomplished by checking for tightness around the jacket’s waist area . The jacket is too tight if X-like folds are forming around the waist button hole, and too large if it protrudes by more than 1.5 inches. The lapels of the jacket create diagonal vectors that naturally slim the torso and so they also shouldn’t buckle.

 

Elevating power of textures
Slimming the torso with the correct amount of tightness

Creating the Illusion of height

Jacket length

To create the illusion of height, the jacket should extend below the trouser’s waistband and cover your arse. This lengthens the leg line by creating visual continuity between the trousers and the jacket. A basic test for the ideal jacket length, when the assistance of a tailor or qualified assistant is unavailable, is to relax the arms by your side and extend the thumbs so that they are parallel to the floor; the jacket should fall somewhere between the extended thumbs and the first knuckle of the first finger.

 

Winter lovely simple harmonie and pattern mixing
Jared Acquaro of Oscar Hunt Tailors and A Poor Man’s Millions

Trousers legs

Trousers should fall perfectly straight from the waist when standing. There should be no bunching as this disrupts the appearance of verticality.

10635910_759446067434604_895322024167441864_n
Trouser legs should fall straight from the waist without bunching as demonstrated by the boys at Rose & Born.

Lapel Gorge

The lapel gorge describes the V-shaped formation that is created when the the lapels of the jacket meet. Because of their vertical vectors they increase the illusion of height. The average guys should have a lapel gorge located no lower than his navel and no higher than an inch above it to optimise the illusion of height.

Got to love the Japs
Kenji Kaga of Seven Fold Firenze and Tie Your Tie demonstrates how the correct placement of the lapel gorge can create an illusion of height.

Lapel Notch

The lapel notch describes the space where the collar of the jacket meets the lapel.  The higher up the lapel notch is, the longer the vertical vectors of the lapels are, and the taller the wearer appears. For the average guy the notch should appear within the vicinity of the upper chest.

Fantastic colour mixing
Lapel notches should appear within the vicinity of the upper chest.

Vents

Vents create the illusion of height as they draw the gaze upwards. However ventless jackets also create the illusion of height as they do not disrupt the visual continuity of the rear. Vents are therefore often stylistic preferences. Italians tend to prefer to go ventless, Americans single and the Brits double. You’ll find all three styles down under.

Vents on a jacket appear to increase verticality. An example of a double vented jacket here worn by Simon Crompton of Permanent Style.

Sleeves

Most men wear their sleeves far too long due to a common misconception that jackets sleeves should fit like shirts. On the average guy, sleeves should meet the wrist bone to permit some shirt cuff (at least 1/2 an inch but no more than 3/4 of an inch) to protrude. This prevents the arm appearing too short or too long.

 

Canali Blazer
Menswear OG, G. Bruce Boyer’s perfect sleeve lengths ensure that his arms do not appear too long or too short.

(photos via. T-F.com, The Armoury, Voxsartoria, Jared Acquaro, Rose & Born, The Guardian, Rose Callahan)

Stay Informed

Join our newsletter to keep up to date with the best menswear in Australia, and receive exclusive subscriber only content.