Men’s Suits -Your Definitive Guide
The world of suits can be a difficult and sometimes confusing task. When you walk into a shop, looking to buy a suit, you can be a little overwhelmed by the amount of choice that’s available to you. Every man should have, at least, one suit in their wardrobe arsenal that they can always fall back on if an occasion ever arises. So, we thought we’d give you a few tips and tricks to help you along the way; from the way, it should fit; all the way to how many buttons you should have on your suit jacket, we’ve got you covered.
The Suit Fit Guide
The saying “the suit makes the man” is right: an ill-fitting suit can make you look less dressed up than wearing no suit at all.
There are many different fits:
Extreme Slim Fit
The Extreme Slim Fit is perfect for a trim slim guy who wants to wear his suit, not the other way around. The jacket features a narrower chest and waist that is form-fitting without being constricting. The trousers are slim-fitting with a low rise. Only slim guys should wear these suits.
This fit is extremely popular now. Slim Fit is fitted closer to the body, without the excess fabric. That doesn’t mean it fits like a bodysuit; Slim Fit can be worn by a lot of different body types.
If you have a thicker frame you will have to move up a size or two to look right in a slim fit suit. For instance, if you wear a size 46 suit that is a classic fit or modern fit, you need to buy a 48 or 50 in a slim fit.
The Modern Fit falls between Slim Fit and Classic Fit: it’s not too boxy, but it has more room than a Slim Fit. Modern Fit is a great choice for guys who want something a little more fashion-forward than Classic Fit but are not sure they can pull off Slim Fit. Fitted correctly it can look like a Slim Fit suit.
Classic Fit is comfortable and easy to wear. It’s cut generously through the chest and waist, which means less constriction for you, but still maintains a clean body shape. Most men will fall into this category.
One size doesn’t fit all. Athletic Fit is perfect for guys who prefer even more room to move than our other fits offer. The jacket features ample room in the chest and body while the full leg of the trouser offers maximum comfort.
This suit usually has broader shoulders and a v shape. If you hit the gym show it off in this type of suit.
How A Suit Jacket Should Fit
The fit of your clothes is the most important thing. As long as they fit correctly, you’re already on your way to a stylish outfit. Suits, however, can be a little tricky as the styles differ so much, it can easily get confusing on what is the correct measurement for a suit to fit perfectly. The trick with suits is that there should be clean lines all around. You don’t want to see any bunching up of the material or tightness, as this indicates an ill-fitting suit, and that’s something none of us want. So, as long as you achieve those clean lines, you’ll be alright.
Before you start trying on suits, you need to measure yourself. We’ll start off with the chest, and this means you want to take a tape measure and measure the thickest part of your chest. Like most clothes, suits are measured in inches, so, if you measure 40 inches around your chest, you’ll want to look at suit jackets that are a size 40 or 42.
If you don’t trust your own measuring skills; then you can always go to a tailor and they can measure you properly. Clean lines are key, so if you see the dreaded ‘X’ shape when you button up your jacket then it’s too small for you, so go for the next size up.
When you’re trying on suit jackets, you need to take into account the length of your arm. Now, this may be tricky, as we all know, every one of us differs in body shape and size, so you may find a suit jacket that fits you perfectly everywhere else, but the arms are too long. If this is the case, then you can take it to a tailor, or, maybe even a dry cleaner and they can take them up for you. However, the length of your sleeve should hit you right on the wrist bone, no lower or higher. You should be able to see a little bit of your shirt underneath, so it’s probably best you wear a shirt underneath when you’re trying on suits, just so you know the right length you need.
Your shoulders are another element to your suit jacket that you need to get right. If you buy a suit jacket and the shoulders are too wide, then this can make you look bigger; too narrow, then you can look like you’ve out-grown your suit, and that’s not a look we condone. Much like your shirt, the seam attaching the sleeve to the main body of the jacket should sit directly on your shoulder. If the seam is too high, then your jacket is too small, too low and the jacket is far too big for your body.
The length of your suit jacket is very important. Get it wrong and you can look like you’ve either outgrown your suit or you’ve been a bit ambitious with your summer growing plans. The length of your jacket should sit just below your hip bone, so if it’s above or below, it doesn’t fit I’m afraid.
How Suit Trousers Should Fit
You’re probably thinking ‘what about the trousers‘ well, your suit trousers are measured by your inside leg and your waist. Much like jeans, you’ll see a waist measurement number i.e. 34R, this means you’ll be 34 inches around the waist and a regular leg length. Leg Length is categorized into three sizes short (S), regular (R), and long (L), and you’ll fit into one of these three lengths. Like most men, we all differ, so if you’re an in-between size, then always go for the longer length and have them taken up.
How your trousers sit on your shoe is a key element to your trousers. Too short and you can look like you can’t dress, too long, and you can look like you’re turning up to a court date. So, to avoid that, you’ll want to have your trousers sit slightly on your shoe, and this is called the ‘break’. You’re going to want to have what’s called a quarter break, meaning that the back of your trousers sit slightly down the back of your shoe, with the front of your trousers hovering over your laces.
The Right Suit For Your Body Shape
Finding the right suit needn’t be a gamble. This is the guide to the type of suit that, well, suits your type.
The Right Suit For Short Men
So what if you drew the vertically challenged genetic straw, it needn’t suck all that much, or even appear to be the case once you learn a few tricks of the trade.
Think linear; In other words, the aim is to create the appearance of one long line from head to toe.
A neat, tapered trouser worn slightly higher on the hip adds inches to the legs. By contrast, a big break (the amount of trouser that falls onto the shoe) or drop-crotch will shorten them, and you. Balance this with a more contemporary length on the jacket. Many brands and retailers offer ‘short’ cut versions of their suits; this elongates your pins, while the deep V-shape created by a two-button jacket ensures your torso isn’t too diminutive.
Avoid belts and wearing a suit as separates, which will saw you in half like a bad magician and stop the eyes flow from top to bottom. Pinstripes, on the other hand, do the opposite by directing the eye up and down, as long as they’re not too thick or widely spaced. Similarly, micro-checks are better than large windowpanes.
Extra shirt cuff peeking out from under the arm of the jacket can also help your suit look proportionally smaller and not like an adult size being worn by a child, as will slimmer lapels. At the same time, you want enough structure in the shoulders to balance out your head, which can appear disproportionately large. A diagonal peak lapel simultaneously provides a vertical line and a bit of horizontal heft.
The Right Suit For Tall Men
Those in this category have the opposite problem to short men and therefore the opposite solution. More specifically, the aim is to break up the vast space between your head and toes all the way down there in the distance, beneath the clouds.
Your trousers should break (cleanly, though) on your shoes: any hint of the ankle will make it look like your suit has shrunk, as will overly short sleeves. There are a lot of you, so try not to show this off too much.
Your jacket should also be on the longer side to cut your leg line. Don’t fall into the trap of showing a load of trouser fly and, worse still, shirt sticking out below the jacket button.
Speaking of jacket buttons, there are conflicting opinions over whether a third one breaks up a lanky torso or highlights it. The simple answer is that it depends on the placement: a high three-button is creating a long line in one direction; a low two-button is doing the same but in the other direction. Neither is particularly helpful.
An extra ticket pocket (a small flapped opening usually above the right hip pocket); will help clutter you up, as will wearing a pocket square. Ditto patterns that send the eye sideways like big checks.
Wearing separates is one of your greatest weapons when it comes to looking less lofty. Mixing and matching trousers and blazers not only get you more wear out of your sartorial wardrobe, but it also breaks up a tall frame. You can even further this by adding a belt (your shorter friends should have a few going spare if they have read the above).
The Right Suit For The Skinny Man
Skinny men share some of the same problems as the short and tall guy, but predominantly the latter.
Gentlemen with a skinnier build should follow the same advice as taller clients. There’s no need to go overly tapered or skinny fit. The purpose of tailoring is to flatter and disguise any quirks or figurations, not to accentuate them.
Your goal is to add some weight to your barbell-like physique. Busy patterns, pleated trousers with cuffs, and even heavier fabrics like tweed and wool will all pile it on from an onlooker’s perspective. Checks and textured weaves can add presence.
A double-breasted jacket, with its overlapping material at the front and buttons that encourage lateral thinking; will give you visual gains quicker than a tub of Freakbeast 5000.
While you might want standard rather than slim lapels to counteract your rakishness, and maybe a bit of extra shoulder padding like the short guy; always keep everything broadly in proportion to your body and head. Too wide and you’ll look like Frasier’s brother Niles.
The Right Suit For Larger Men
The style world has got increasingly better at catering for guys with larger builds, and therefore you shouldn’t be deterred from tailoring, especially as this is your opportunity to contour.
You’ve got more things in common with the vertically challenged guy, in that you want to create a long – and, crucially, lean – line.
Follow a similar formula to the short body type. Stay well away from large checks as they will shorten your silhouette. A narrow pinstripe on a slimming darker base gives a longer look.
As with the Napoleonic chap, a two-button jacket and high-waisted trousers are your friends in the right places; elongating and narrowing accordingly. Again, a peak lapel can contribute to your verticality, while its width is more proportional to, well, yours.
Meanwhile, the reverse of the skinny guy applies to you: lighter fabrics like hopsack; or cotton can take a few optical pounds off. And don’t make the common mistake of going baggy to try to hide your girth; as you’ll only exaggerate it: the jacket should skim your shoulders. You can nip it in to give the illusion of a narrow waist; (slanted hip pockets can also perform the same trick), providing it’s not bursting at the seams.
The Right Suit For Athletic Body Shape
Have you been working out? Congratulations: chances are you’ve got the ideal build for a suit. Just don’t mess it up!
It’s a question of proportion; striking the right balance between a tapered waist and the correct fit across broad shoulders.
Tailoring is designed to emphasize your form in the same way that the gym does. So if you’ve already put the hard work in at your local iron paradise; you don’t need your suit to do any heavy lifting; Cuts with soft, natural shoulders tend to work best.
In a similar vein, aggressively tapered trousers – a very modern affliction; will make you look like Johnny Bravo: balance is always more elegant. (Ditto dramatic peak lapels – a proportionally wide notch is less showy.) Besides, you don’t want people to think you skip leg day.
If anything, you want to add bulk to your bottom half with details such as pleats; which will also make room for your squatter’s glutes, quads, and hams (as will a larger rise; the gap between the waistband and crotch seam). A slightly longer jacket will give your chicken legs some stuffing to even out your heaving pecs.
The only real problem men of this body type have is their ability to buy off the peg. Ready-to-wear is always difficult as the industry tends to expect a big chest to come with a big gut to match. If you can’t spring for bespoke or made-to-measure; find retailers that sell suit jackets and trousers separately.
When it comes to pattern and color, you can pretty much do what you like.
Suit Fit For Every Body Shape
They say that in life, you have to play the hand you’re dealt with, which is true. However, you can also stack the deck in your favor with some tactical tailoring.
A good suit enhances Mother Nature’s gifts: it’s like wearing an Instagram filter; or walking around with flattering lighting constantly overhead. Slip it on, and suddenly you’re a new, better-looking man.
Although, not all suits are good for everybody, or indeed all body types. Whether you’re short, tall, skinny, large, or stacked, a bespoke solution is required – even if you’re only buying off the peg.