How to tell if your suit fits correctly
HOW TO KNOW YOUR OCEAN’S SHIT IS RIGHT
For most men, the changing room is not a relaxing place to be. It is not a sanctuary, to revel in and settle down to a relaxing hour of trying on clothes. Rather, it is a small, hot and cramped space that should be inhabited for as short a time as possible. Get in there, put on the clothing and make a decision quickly. For that reason, men need a quick point-guide for trying on suit jackets.
Jackets are not simple pieces of tailoring. The way the wool looks across your back, for example, is affected by everything from the angle of the shoulder seam to the slope of your shoulders, your natural posture to the height of the waist button. It is not just a question of doing it up and making sure you can breathe.
But let’s start there, with the waist. Fasten the waist button (the middle one on a three-button suit, top on a two-button and you can figure out a one-button) and only the waist button. This is the fulcrum that the whole jacket has been designed on, anchoring the shoulders and revealing the jacket’s structure. Tug at that button slightly and see how much excess there is. An inch or two is fine. You don’t want any stretch lines radiating from the button when it is fastened; but equally it should not be too loose. Unlike a shirt, say, you will undo this button when you sit down (unless the jacket is double-breasted) so the jacket’s waist can follow yours quite closely.
Next, look at the length of the jacket. There are many ways to assess whether this is correct, including it matching your inside leg. But the two simplest ones are the easiest. Is the length of the jacket (from shoulder to skirt) roughly half the height of the whole suit (from shoulder to trouser hem)? And, secondly, does the jacket finish about halfway down your hands, so you can curl your fingers under it? Compare these two rules, and as long as they are both close, the jacket fits.
Of course, many of these points are subject to taste and fashion. Recently the trend has been towards shorter, ‘bumfreezer’ jackets that recall the 1960s-era Beatles. That’s fine if it’s what you want. But use these guidelines so you can tell if the jacket is a bit short. So at least you’re making an informed decision.
The arms of the jacket should finish around your wrist bone – the point from which your hand flexes. If your shirt finishes at the base of the thumb, this should leave around half an inch of cuff showing (try to wear shirts that fit you well when trying on a suit, if possible).
Most important to the fit of a suit, though, is the neck and shoulders. This is because these parts are the hardest for you to get altered (more of that in another post). The neck should sit flush on your collar when you are standing naturally (not dead straight like you are on parade). If it stands away, the collar needs to be tightened; if it is against the neck but there are stretch marks below the collar, it needs to be loosened.
Finally, if the shoulders fit then the jacket’s sleeve should just touch the muscle of your shoulder as it flows down the arm. Your shoulder should not create a bulge in the cloth, but nor should the sleeve hang loose beyond it. It should just touch.