The difference between appearing socially awkward or sharp and confident is often reduced to the fit of your clothing. Some of this is identifying the right tailor, but a lot of it comes down to you and the fitting room mirror. Picking the right fit is not some innate, instinctual ability, but is learned from paying attention to detail.
Preface - Body matter
This doesn't really need saying, but clothes best flatter a body that is already in shape. If you want to look good, style will only take you so far. Eat and drink well. Exercise every once in a while. You don't need a six-pack to look good, but if you're in decent shape wearing clothes become much easier. This works both ways - if you're lanky and stick-like, start working out. It will help you fill out your clothes.
Have someone take all of your measurements multiple times for accuracy. These are very useful numbers when shopping for clothing in-store, and are absolutely crucial when shopping online.
This guide is a general guide for the novice. If you're some style guru, you can look great in some crazy fits. If that's the case, this guide is not for you.
This shirt fits very well. Let’s go into the details.
- The collar should just graze your neck without constricting it. If turning your head causes the collar to turn with it, the collar is too tight. You should be able to comfortably fit only two fingers inside of your buttoned collar without it tightening against your skin.
- Your cuffs should meet the point where your palm begins (about 2cm up from your wrist bone). It should be tight enough that your thumb notch at your wrist will stop the cuff from moving up your hand. It should be a bit looser than a properly fitting watch, and not go farther up your wrist than that watch.
- The shoulder seam should be at your shoulder bone. This is the point on your shoulder that is the greatest distance away from your sternum.
- Sleeves should not be so tight that you can see the details of your arm, but it should also not be so loose as to billow. When you bend your arm, your cuff should not move more than an inch up your wrist.
- When you fold your hands behind your head, the shirt should not come out of the pants. If it does, the armholes may not be high enough. Alternatively, armholes should not be tight around your shoulder or cutting into your armpit.
- Shirt length should be such that you can bend and make natural movements without it coming out of your pants.
Blazers and Suit Jackets
Concerning fit, the jacket above fits rather nicely... except the sleeves are too long and his lapels are in horrendous shape. Well, this gentleman's suit fits quite well... except it's a bit tight in the body for most tastes. How about this? Yes, I believe that fits properly. See how hard it is to find a well-fitted suit jacket?
- Concerning length: a suit jacket is like a good lawyer; it should cover your ass. Some say that it should reach your knuckles, but this assumes the length of your arms is normal.
- The second button from the bottom should be just above your belly-button (never below)
- With your arms at your sides, the sleeves should cover the wrist bone, and no more. (Note that your dress shirt will have 1-2cm longer sleeves, which allows you to "show some cuff")
- While buttoned, the jacket should not pull across the chest (signified by the fabric making an "X" shape at your sternum). Similarly, it should not pull across the shoulders when arms are folded.
- The shoulder seam should lie on the edge of your shoulder. Avoid any bends, or divots between the shoulder and the sleeve. This is signified by an indentation seen just below the shoulder seam or shoulder pad. There should be minimal buckling, the sleeve should be smooth at the shoulder. You can see what I'm referring to pictured here. If you look at the fellow in the center, his left shoulder is smooth, while his right shoulder is buckling. Now natural movement (lifting your arms) will certainly cause the shoulders to buckle, but this is normal. You simply want to reduce the amount of buckling, and you want to make sure there are absolutely no wrinkles or divots while your arms are down at your sides.
- About 2 cm of shirt collar should be revealed by the jacket collar.
- Holding your hand flat, you should easily be able to fit it inside the jacket under the lapels. However, it should be slim to the chest - there shouldn't be an air pocket there.
- Similarly to shirts, armholes must be sufficiently high. The arms should move somewhat independently of the jacket during normal motions. If holding your arms out at 45 degrees causes the bottom of your suit to rise significantly, your armholes are likely too low. The sleeves should not significantly restrain your movement. Note, however, that you're not doing acrobatics in a suit jacket. Alternatively, the armholes should not be cutting into your armpit.
- If a jacket doesn’t fit your shape properly, sometimes the bottoms will flare out, a product of the jacket being too slim in the waist, so your hips push the fabric out a bit.
Coats should fit like this.
If you have an athletic physique, you can even get away with this.
- Keep in mind what you will be wearing under your coat, as the size will need to adjust accordingly.
- Most rules are the same as suit jackets, in that shoulder seams should lie at your shoulders (given what you’re wearing underneath).
- Sleeve should go about an inch up your hand from your wrist (an inch longer than a dress shirt sleeve), to ensure that you’re not showing any sleeve form something you’re wearing underneath.
- The coat should not be roomy, but should lie close to your body and accentuate your shape. That being said, it should be in no way taut, and should allow freedom of movement.
- Like a jacket, if a coat doesn’t fit right sometimes the bottoms will flare out like a bell, beware of this. It makes the coat look skirt-like.
No pants should need a belt to stay on your hips.
Chinos should fit like these
- Note: The pants in the first image are somewhat conservatively cut. There is nothing wrong with the fit, but some may prefer the slimmer cut in the second image.
- The chino should not be tight to the leg, but also should not billow. It should be comfortably close to the leg without causing resistance
- You generally want one break in the pant leg (A break is a crease at the base of the pant leg created when the pant collapses onto the shoe). If you're going sockless with slim chinos then you probably want no breaks.
- Avoid pleats.
Dress trousers should fit like this
- Similar to the Chino in fit, but they well naturally drape more.
- Again, avoid pleats.
- You want to aim for a smaller break, but you still want a break. Some people opt for a cuff that weighs down the pants and has no break. I believe a small break is pleasing to the eye, and Brooks Brothers (pictured) seems to agree with me.
Jeans should be no baggier than this
- Go with your waist size and stick with straight leg or slimmer. Size down 1 for a slimmer fit. The jeans will stretch.
- When it comes to breaks due to gravity, most people don't want more than a few, pictured here. Some people aim for more breaks, this is called "stacking", pictured here. That amount of stacking might seem like a bit much, but it's a matter of taste. Depending on the style of the jean and rigidity of the denim, you can get away with bunching farther up the leg. Since jeans are very versatile and can be fit with numerous styles, this varies quite a bit.
- Length can vary if you plan to cuff the jean. Jean cuff can vary from 3-12cm depending on your style.
- The jean should be slim in the thigh and straight or tapered from the knee down. Avoid bootcut jeans.
A tie should be about this long
and with a knot that looks like this
- While standing straight, the bottom of your tie should just reach the center of your belt.
- The tie should simply sit under your collar, and should not tighten your collar.
- Your knot should vary depending on your collar. A wider collar, such as a cutaway, would call for a larger knot such as a full-windsor. A narrow collar, such as a pointed collar, would call for a four-in-hand. Experiment and see what knots look good to you.
- While on your feet, you should not be able to easily fit a finger behind your heel (this varies a bit, but your shoes shouldn't be roomy).
- You should be able to barely graze the front of the shoe with your toes. The front of the shoe should not be pressing on your toes.
- The shoe should exert little to no pressure on the sides of your feet.
- This should be obvious, but walking should be comfortable and take no effort.
- That's all I have for now. I welcome any additions or changes that you may suggest.
The guide was written by @shujin on Reddit