The closely fitted suit has become an almost universal preference in the world of men’s fashion today. Gone are the days when trouser pleats, kipper-shape ties and tent-like jackets were considered appropriate business dress. The fitted suit today is de rigueur – and by “fitted,” we mean tailored closely to the body.
But what exactly constitutes a good “fitted” suit?
For some people, the question might seem overly simplistic. After all, there’s more than one type of fit. Just because a fit is more “relaxed,” doesn’t mean it isn’t fitted.
You just have to see pictures of a young Cristóbal Balenciaga (above) to know that a suit draped elegantly over the body can be just as well fitted as an extremely skinny suit. But there are a few common characteristics of a fitted suit that can be easily identified, no matter what the type of fit.
A fitted jacket shoulder ought to mimic the shape of your own shoulder. This means that the seam of the jacket, where the shoulder meets the sleeve, should lie at the point where your shoulder ends and slopes down into your arm.
A Suit That Fits’ style advisors are trained to measure your shoulder and sleeve in such a way that you will receive the correct jacket.
If the jacket shoulder protrudes over the shape of your own shoulder, it won’t fit and will create ripples. The shoulder width is one of the most important measurements when it comes to tailoring your suit because this part of the suit is the most difficult for a tailor to adjust.
The cuff of your trousers ought to rest gently on the tops of your shoes without bunching or hanging too far above the shoes.
For some men, it’s a stylistic decision to reveal a bit of ankle, especially when sitting or walking.
But for the majority of men, a classic fit is usually recommended. This means that the drape of your trouser cuffs ought to “break” or wrinkle slightly when they hit your shoes. To put it a bit differently, this means that your shoes will be supporting your trouser cuffs very gently.
Too much of a break and the drape will appear to “puddle” and the trousers will need to be taken up. Some men prefer no break at all, opting for the drain-pipe look of straight-down trousers. The desirability of this “look” is vulnerable, however, to passing trends and changes in style.
Your trousers ought to lie smoothly over your butt and not bunch or be too tight. Neither should there be an excess of fabric above or underneath your butt.
When the cloth of your trousers falls down the backs of your thighs, it should drape smoothly.
One thing to watch out for – and definitely steer clear of – when it comes to closing your jacket, is the taut X shape that happens when the buttons are done up but there’s not enough fabric around them.
Your buttons should hold the cloth together in a way that neither pulls nor hangs. Pulling can damage the buttons or the cloth while hanging will look unsightly.
Jacket sleeve length
Very often, I’ll be walking around town and will notice a man with his jacket sleeves ending at the base of his thumb – no shirt cuff exposed. This is definitely not a jacket that fits.
When you try on your jacket, make sure a good half-inch of shirt cuff stands out of your jacket sleeve. It doesn’t matter whether your jacket is slim-fitting or relaxed, this should always be the case.
Even if there’s less than half an inch of shirt fabric exposed, as long as there’s a band of whatever length, this should do.
Although this is often a matter of preference, standard recommendations do exist if you’re not sure what your preferences are.
A keen fan of the slim fit suit (someone like Adam Levine, pictured) will often wear a high jacket base. Check out how Levine’s jacket base ends just below his waist. This isn’t a good model for the average suit jacket but it’s definitely a look that’s become quite popular today.
Most men will want their jacket base to fall just below the point where your butt starts to curve inward. Your jacket base shouldn’t sit at the top of your butt nor should it hang too far below your butt.
One standard practice is to make sure the jacket base falls to the middle of the hand when you’re standing with a relaxed posture with arms at your sides.