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FoundationStyleSuitsThe Rules

Your clothes don’t fit you!

And the style tips that will change your life forever!

Yesterday I must have passed 1000 people and you know what surprised me the most? I counted on one hand the number of people who actually had clothes that fit them properly. ON ONE HAND!!!

It started first thing in the morning when waiting at the train station platform for my usual commuter train. Out the corner of my eye I caught sight of a very well presented gentleman. On closer inspection his outfit was nothing special, and still he looked like a catwalk model in the company of the usual bland collection of anonymity that usually congregates while waiting for a train. A quick glance at his watch and his shoes discreetly showed me he hadn’t invested a fortune in his outfit, but it didn’t matter, his look was superb. His secret? His clothes fit him perfectly. It was that simple.

The simplicity of his success surprised me, so I decided to find someone else who was equally well dressed to compare, but there was no one. The search continued all day at the end of the day all I found were three people who dressed as well.

The overwhelming problem with the majority of men’s clothes today is they don’t fit. For some reason we men love to buy our clothes too big, and not just a bit too big, but miles too big. Trousers too big, shirts too big, jackets too big, coats too big, clothes too big.

There are hundreds of articles on how clothes should fit, many on this website, so here I will give you just the quick tips so you can make sure you are not making the same mistakes.

Shirts

Shirt Collar With your shirt collar fastened you should be able to fit two fingers snugly between your neck and your collar, any more and the shirt is too big. Considering collar size is how most men buy their shirts, you would think this is hard to get wrong. Unfortunately many men prefer a ‘comfort fit’ which means big all over with plenty of room to grow!

Shoulder fit is key to a correctly fitting shirt. Guys rarely get this right and love to wear shirts at least two sizes too big because they only buy using collar size and design. Unfortunately all shirts are not created equally. The seam between the shoulder and the arm hole should be right at the edge of your shoulder. Most guys oversize here and have the seam up to 20mm down the arm making for a poor fitting shirt.

Arm hole No that’s not a subtle curse for gents, but one of the most important areas for good shirt fit. Too many men wear shirts with baggy arm wholes which ensure excessive material all down the arm. A close fitting arm hole ensures a much neater profile. You will also find that because of the arm hole design,  it will be a slimmer fitting shirt in the body which reduces the chances of sporting the puffed up ‘muffin top’ look with plenty of overhang in the waist.

Sleeve length Should extend 10mm from the end of the jacket – but how do you tell how long it should be when trying it on or wearing without a jacket? Simple, you have a bone on the outside edge of your wrist, just below the wrist joint. That is where your jacket should stop, so your shirt should finish 5-10mm further down which is inline with your wrist joint. Too many men wear shirts that have arms too long which crawl down the backs of their hands.

bad fitting men's shirts

 Trousers (pants)

For perfect length, the front edge should hit the top of your shoe when standing straight, with a single break (crease) between the bottom edge and the knee. The rear edge should stop half way down the back of your shoe and there should be no break at the back. There is no excuses for baggy ankles, getting your trousers turned up is the simplest and cheapest alteration there is.

Trouser width should follow the form of your leg. use the knee as an indicator. Too baggy at the knee will affect the whole structure of the trousers so keep excess material to a minimum. Trousers don’t need to be drain pipes (unless that’s the look you are going for), but form fitting, no matter what your shape or size is better than baggy.

Trouser rise is how low the crotch area is. Too high is a sign your trousers are too small which is uncomfortable for those wearing and worse for those unfortunate to witness this travesty. If the rise is too low, chances are the trouser width is also too big making for MC Hammer baggy trousers.

Trouser seat, the infamous baggy butt syndrome, is usually the compound effect from two separate problems. When the trouser width is too big in the thigh and the rise is too low. It’s all too common and very unflattering.

bad fitting men's jacket

Jackets

Shoulders As with shirts, your shoulders are key to the correct fitting of a jacket. Far too many men wear jackets too big in the shoulders. If the shoulder pad extends past the shoulder it is too big. A quick test is to lean against a wall. If the shoulder pad touches the wall before your arm is pressed against the all, it’s too big.

Jacket length with your arms straight by your side, you should be able to curl your fingers under the bottom edge of the jacket. If you can’t the jacket is too big. I appreciate recent trends have been for short jackets, I am confident the classic cuts will always be in style.

Sleeve Length As with shirts sleeve length, there is a simple test for the optimal sleeve length. If it is inline with the bone on the outside of your wrist, it is spot on. Too many men wear over sized jackets with extra long arms covering their shirt cuffs completely. If that’s you it’s time to invest in a new jacket!

 Summary

Just by following these simple style tips and wearing clothes that fit you properly, you will be miles ahead of most men. Don’t follow the crowd and accept poor fit as the standard. Invest in clothes that fit you perfectly. If after following these tips you find some of your clothes need a slight adjustment, that’s great too since now you know what to change – it will be easier to talk through with a local alterations tailor who should already be in your black book of contacts. If he isn’t, what better way to get introduced. Once you discover tailoring, it will change your life forever.

2 comments
  1. Ray J. Park

    Ahh the importance of custom clothing! Men should never buy a sport coat or a pair of slacks just to get it re-altered or tailored. A silly and unnecessary step and of course – a waste of money. It should simply just fit the first time. A great read and a topic that’s relatable in so many ways Steve! I see many gentlemen here in downtown Chicago face the same issue with fit as well. Hopefully this awareness of good fit will become more mainstream in both of our cities in the near future.

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