Did you know that most people will size you up within five seconds?
People base their first impressions primarily on two things: your body language and your clothing. Especially in the corporate world, how you present yourself is very important for a good first impression.
And nothing says "unprofessional" like an ill-fitting suit. But how do you know if your new suit is a good fit?
Keep reading as this handy guide dives deep into the question, "how should a suit fit?" and provides some tailor-made solutions to common issues.
There are several key areas that people first notice on a suit. If it doesn't fit well in these places, it is immediately obvious. For the jacket, these areas are the shoulders, the cuffs and collar, and the chest.
In pants, the critical areas are the waist, seat, and pockets. In both the jacket and pants, overall length is also highly important.
If this sounds overwhelming, don't worry. We're about to break each section down and examine it thoroughly. First, let's examine the jacket.
If the jacket doesn't fit, people will assume the whole suit doesn't fit. Does yours pass all four criteria? Double-check as you follow along.
The shoulders are where everyone looks first to determine if a suit fits. On a well-fitting suit, the seam connecting the sleeve to the body will hit right above where your shoulder starts sloping down. The sleeve will hang loose, with just a slight amount of your deltoid extending beyond the seam.
If it is too small, it will pull and feel uncomfortable. Too big, and you'll have saggy, empty, pointy shoulders.
If you have extra-rounded shoulders, size up your suit and wear shoulder pads to achieve a flat, pointed seam.
Using cheap, wire hangers can stretch out or collapse the shoulders. To make sure they continue to fit how a suit jacket should fit, always use thick wooden hangers like these high-quality ones from Butler Luxury.
The cuffs of your suit jacket should show a quarter- to a half-inch of shirt cuff. This means that the edge of the cuff should hit right where your hand meets your wrist joint or a little above it.
When your posture doesn't match the jacket's slope, the collar has a tendency to form rolls of fabric in the back. This can be corrected by a tailor, who simply adjusts the shoulder slope.
The collar should also rest flush against your neck. If it is too big, there might be a gap between the collar and your neck.
The top button of your jacket should sit one to three fingers higher than your belly button. When it fits properly, it will only pull slightly when buttoned. If the top button is too high, your suit will pull across the chest.
If the suit is too tight, it will flair out at the top and bottom, and form an X-crease. The jacket should feel slightly snug but not noticeably tight.
The chest of the suit should lie flat against your own chest. There should not be a gap between your shirt and your jacket.
With your arms at your sides, the hem of your suit jacket should hit right in the middle of your hand. Your jacket should cover about 80% of the seat of your pants. Sport jackets are sometimes a little shorter.
If your pants are baggy, people will think you haven't updated your suits since the 90s (or you got them at a thrift store). Pants that are too tight just look uncomfortable. Do your pants fit in the four critical areas?
The waistband of suit pants sits higher up than regular pants or jeans. The waistband should hit the highest part of your hip bones or a little above it. They should stay up on their own; the belt should not be doing any work.
If you use cheap plastic clip hangers, the waistband will stretch out or warp. To prevent this, you should always hang your pants. Butler Luxury has a variety of trouser hangers that are carefully crafted for this purpose.
The seat of your pants should not be baggy or tight. It should sit smoothly against your rump without pulling or sagging. You should not feel in danger of splitting the seam, nor should any fabric hang loose.
If the seat is saggy, a tailor can take it in. If it is too tight, go for a size up, since there is usually not enough material in the seam for a tailor to let out.
If the seat or legs are too tight, the pockets have a tendency to stick out and gap. On a well-fitting suit, you should be able to pinch an inch of fabric on either side of your thigh. This will allow your pockets to hang loose and stay flush with the leg.
A well-fitting pants leg does not bag or form multiple folds where it rests on top of the shoe. A "slight break" is generally recommended for appearing the most polished. This means there is just one slight wrinkle, not too deep, above the shoe.
The wrinkle should only be in the front, with no wrinkles in the back. If your cuffs are too long, a tailor can easily hem them.
Once you have purchased a well-fitting suit, you should try hard to keep it that way.
Wear a suit no more than twice a week. Before putting it away, brush it with a soft-bristled, animal-hair brush. Spot clean as needed, and only dry clean once or twice a season. This will keep it from wearing out and losing its profile.
Use a handheld steamer instead of an iron, to prevent scorched fibers. And store your suits where they can breathe. This will allow them to air out between uses.
Finally, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to use wooden hangers.
When your suit jacket and pants fit well, you will feel more confident in the corporate world. This confidence can lead to all kinds of improvements in your business and personal life.
Now that we've discussed the question of "how should a suit fit?" we're sure you're looking sharp. For even more advice on caring for your suits and maintaining a sharp look every day, check out our free guide From Suit Hangers to Modern Office Looks: A Modern Professional's Manifesto.
Make sure you store your new suit properly to maintain its profile. For the best suit hangers, browse Butler Luxury's complete selection today!