n this article, I want to talk about and show you how should a suit fit if you’re going for the perfect fit. These fit rules are for every single guy, no matter your age or body type. A lot of my older clients say, “I don’t want to look like an older guy trying to look young and hip in a suit.” and my younger clients say, “I don’t want to look like some old stuffy guy in a suit.” I always reassure them that I’d never fit them to look younger or older than they are.
Well here’s my dirtly little secret – no matter their age or body shape – I fit their suits exactly the same. A well-fitting suit looks good on everybody. Can you guess how many times they’ve complained after we got them fitted in a suit?
The below items are everything I look at and adjust to ensure my clients look razor sharp in suits.
Note: The model used for these shots is around 6 feet tall. Just so you have some frame of reference.
How should a suit jacket fit?
The suit jacket length will dictate how “balanced” your upper body is to your lower body. Mess up the length of the jacket and the whole suit will look off. The jacket should end around mid-crotch if you’re under 5’9”. Mid to lower if you’re any taller than that.
The model’s jacket below is perfectly in the “mid-to-lower crotch” area. A tailor can shorten your jacket up to an inch without messing up it’s proportions, but they can never really let much out because there’s no fabric there. Overall, you generally want this part to already be perfect when you’re buying a suit, even off the rack.
You want the shoulder seams of the jacket to end at the end of your shoulders – where they start curving down to your arm, basically. You should see no divots or wrinkles in the shoulders anywhere. The shoulders should lay perfectly flat, with no divots or rumpling or pulling on the shoulders. If you have more rounded shoulders, the seam should still end in the same place, you would just need a little more padding in the shoulders to make them appear less rounded. If the shoulders are too big or small, a tailor will have a very hard time fixing this, and it would be very expensive – if it was even possible. So ensure these fit properly when buying a suit from anywhere, as well.
RealMenRealStyle has this awesome graphic showing the proper shoulder fit.
When you bend your wrist so your palms are facing the ground, the jacket sleeves should be about ¼” above the top of your hand. A lot of people recommend that it hits the top of your hand, but that’s BS – then none of your shirt sleeves will be showing, like in the picture below. This length allows for a little bit (¼”) of your shirt sleeve to peek through. If your sleeves are longer, a tailor can easily fix that. If they’re shorter by more than an 1.5″, ditch the jacket because there’s probably not enough fabric in the sleeves for your tailor to let out.
With the top button fastened (never the bottom button), the jacket should lightly hug your midsection, but not feel tight or constricting. The jacket shouldn’t be pulling at the button, creating an ugly “X”. The X mean’s it’s too tight. If it’s roomy around your stomach/waist area, you can (and should!) have a tailor take in the sides of the jacket so it fits properly. This is a very easy and common fix for a tailor to do. Remember: For tailoring purposes, it’s better to have a jacket that’s slightly too big in the body than too small.
For details about the items in this exact outfit, see here.
The collar should rest against your shirt collar, which in turn should rest against the back of your neck. All of these should touch lightly, without significant gaps in between. If there’s a gap, it’s too loose. If there’s bunching just under the back of the jacket collar, it’s too tight or the stance of the jacket is off.
They should be high, but not so high that they’re cutting into your armpit. The picture below shows where the armholes should be on your jacket. Notice it’s not cutting into his armpit? They should be large enough that you don’t notice them, but not so big that you have a few extra inches between your armpit and the bottom of the hole. The arms should be able to move somewhat independently of the jacket’s body during normal motion, but not excessively.
While I’m speaking about suits and motion, a lot of guys who are new to wearing suits usually complain that they should be able to move their arms more while wearing a suit. Let me tell you that a suit is not activewear, so don’t think you should be able to do everything you normally do while wearing a suit. It’s just not built for that purpose.
The jacket’s second button from the bottom (aka the top button) should lie just above your belly-button, never below. My rule of thumb is no more than an inch above and never, ever below. Otherwise it’ll throw off your body’s proportions and you’ll look really odd in the suit.
How should suit pants fit?
Waist and Seat
Suit pants should fit perfectly around your waist with no need for a belt to hold them up. They should hit around the high hipbone area, or even slightly higher. You do not wear suit pants at the same waist as jeans – which are usually designed to sit lower. Saggy dress pants is a big no no.
The seat, or butt area, should lightly hug your tokhis (Yiddish for butt – I just love the word) and not be saggy or super tight. If it feels like you’re going to split your pants, they’re way too tight. If you’ve got a bunch of extra fabric around the butt, they’re much too loose. A tailor can fix this, it won’t be easy or cheap, but if everything else on the pants fits, definitely get it done.
RealMenRealStyle has the perfect illustration of how the seat of your pants should fit
You want to be able to pinch around 1 inch of fabric on either side of your thigh. If it’s less than that, your pants are too tight. If it’s more, have your tailor slim the legs with a slight taper so that it gets narrower towards the ankle. This will look great on every body type/size.
Hem & Cuff
Always default to having your suit pants hemmed to leave a slight break. It looks more polished and sharper than a full break and no break at the hem is a time & place kind of thing, and not generally for everyday wear. A slight break works for everyone.
If you’re not familiar with the different type of pant breaks, PrimerMag has some great images to help you understand:
A trick I do with all my clients is to have the tailor hem the pants so that it’s slightly longer at the back of the hem. That way, when you’re walking, you’ll show less sock and when standing still, it’ll lay nicer on the top and back of your shoe.
There are very few times, I’d argue almost never, when you’d cuff your suit pants. I’ve never cuffed suit pants for a single client because it’s not necessary, no matter their body type.
My Suit Recommendations
Check out my post about the Gray 2 Button Notch Lapel Suit for my favorite suits that’ll fit any budget and look amazing on every body type.