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How a Suit Should Fit

by James Joyner on 28 August 2009

Esquire provides the following illustrations of how a man’s suit should fit:

Man's suit fit guide

While this looks right, it amusingly is not in accord with how the models in many recent issues of Esquire are shown; most wear their jackets and pants too tight, overcompensating for the return to the well-tailored fit.

Also, the guide doesn’t deal with the most common mistakes men make in getting their suits altered, namely wearing their sleeves and pants too long.  A jacket should show a good 1/2 inch of cuff when the arms are at one’s side and the pants should only have a slight break (that is, buckling from contact with the shoes) when standing.   Most guys look like they’re expecting to “grow into” their clothes or are still worried about being taunted for wearing high-waters.

About James Joyner

James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway and the managing editor of a DC think tank. He's a former Army officer, Desert Storm vet, and college professor. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama.

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Manly Thoughts
29 August 2009 at 09:27


1 Sean Hackbarth 28 August 2009 at 16:23

These aren’t good illustrations. I can’t tell the difference between “too big” and “just right” with either the shoulders or the jacket closure. Looking at the actual magazine didn’t help either.

2 James Joyner 28 August 2009 at 16:50

Yeah, photographs of men in suits tend to be even less useful. The idea is that pants should fit without bunching up or being baggy and jackets should fit without creasing or bulging.

So, the “too big” jacket is loose at the sides. With the arms hanging naturally, you probably won’t even see space between the sleeves and the body. A well fitted jacket will taper with the contours of the chest and waist but not pull at the button mark.

A “too big” pair of pants will sag at the butt and a “too small” pair will have horizontal creases where the fabric is straining.

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