"Does It Fit?" Checklist
A friend of mine recently had to get a new suit for a wedding (not his), and asked for my advice on how to tell if a suit jacket fits. I thought about sending him to the various guides Jesse and I have written on the topic, but realized they might be too much to read for someone who doesn’t have a particular interest in menswear. So I wrote out a very basic checklist – something simple, practical, and easy-to-use for how to evaluate if a suit jacket or sport coat fits, with links to longer articles in case anyone wants to read more. 
The Basics
The guiding principle for how a suit jacket should fit is pretty simple. There should be clean lines all around, with no puckering or pulling anywhere, and the jacket should flatter the body (this doesn’t mean it should be super tight). Looking at photos of our friends Voxsartoria and MostExerent can be instructive. 
More specifically …
Shoulders: The shoulder line should be clean, not lumpy, and the ends of your jacket’s shoulders should generally coincide with the ends of your natural shoulders.
Chest: Most off-the-rack suits are designed so that the jacket’s chest stays fairly close to your body, but if you see the lapels starting to buckle, that means your jacket is too small.
Length: If you want something classic, the hem of your jacket should hit roughly midway between your jacket’s collar and the floor.
Collar: The collar should stay glued to your neck, even when you move your arms about (within reason).
Sleeves: Make sure the sleeves fall cleanly. There shouldn’t be any divots or wrinkles when you hang your arms naturally by your side.
Sleeve length: Few jackets will have a perfect sleeve length off-the-rack, so most will need to be altered. Just make sure that after alterations, you have about a half inch of shirt cuff peeking out. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be made difficult by what’s called “working buttonholes.”
Vents: The vents should stay closed when you’re wearing the jacket, but this is hard to tell in a store because vents are usually sewn shut on a new garment. Take a seam ripper and remove these when you’re home, and just make sure they remain fairly closed when you have the jacket on.
Waist: There’s some wiggle room here. You can have the waist nipped to give the jacket more shape, or let out if it feels too tight. In the end, just make sure the jacket isn’t pulling at the buttoning point. 
Other Details
After that, there are some other details you might want to pay attention to:
Quarters: This is the colloquial name for the area of your jacket below the buttoning point. Think about whether you like this area closed or open. It can make a big difference in how your jacket looks. 
Buttoning point: On a three-button jacket, button the middle button, and on a two-button jacket, button the top. Notice where this point sits. Ideally, it should be at your natural waist, though fashion designers have been placing it higher and higher. Be aware that an overly high buttoning point can make you look heavier than you are.
Lapels: Skinny lapels have been en vogue for a few years now (thanks to Mad Men), but are possibly on their way out. I presume the next fad will be wide lapels at some point. For something classic, stick to something that ends half way between your collar and shoulder point.
Notch: Pay attention to where the notches are placed on your lapel. It’s been fashionable to have them very high up on the body, sometimes almost near the top of the shoulders, but like low notches in the 1980s, these will probably go out of fashion at some point. Be wary of extremes. 
Balance: When looking at the jacket from the side, the front and back hem should even with each other, or the front should be slightly longer than the back. When viewed from the front, the left and right sides should generally be even. This is called balance. Truthfully, unless you’re getting something bespoke (and even then, this doesn’t always work out), the second part is rare to achieve. If you have a very dropped shoulder, this can affect how the buttons and buttonholes align, which can then throw off how the jacket looks when buttoned.
The second section above is admittedly a bit nit-picky, but it points to some good things to pay attention to when evaluating how a jacket looks on you. Fortunately, there are some workarounds if you see something you don’t like. If the cut of the quarters doesn’t look good, or if the buttoning point is too high, you can always just wear the jacket unbuttoned. And if the balance is a bit off, you can ask an alterations tailor to move the buttons up a bit so that they align with the buttonholes. Finding the perfect jacket can be difficult, so how much you care about getting the perfect fit will greatly depend on how much time and money you want to spend. But at least now you know what to look for.

"Does It Fit?" Checklist

A friend of mine recently had to get a new suit for a wedding (not his), and asked for my advice on how to tell if a suit jacket fits. I thought about sending him to the various guides Jesse and I have written on the topic, but realized they might be too much to read for someone who doesn’t have a particular interest in menswear. So I wrote out a very basic checklist – something simple, practical, and easy-to-use for how to evaluate if a suit jacket or sport coat fits, with links to longer articles in case anyone wants to read more.

The Basics

The guiding principle for how a suit jacket should fit is pretty simple. There should be clean lines all around, with no puckering or pulling anywhere, and the jacket should flatter the body (this doesn’t mean it should be super tight). Looking at photos of our friends Voxsartoria and MostExerent can be instructive.

More specifically …

  • Shoulders: The shoulder line should be clean, not lumpy, and the ends of your jacket’s shoulders should generally coincide with the ends of your natural shoulders.
  • Chest: Most off-the-rack suits are designed so that the jacket’s chest stays fairly close to your body, but if you see the lapels starting to buckle, that means your jacket is too small.
  • Length: If you want something classic, the hem of your jacket should hit roughly midway between your jacket’s collar and the floor.
  • Collar: The collar should stay glued to your neck, even when you move your arms about (within reason).
  • Sleeves: Make sure the sleeves fall cleanly. There shouldn’t be any divots or wrinkles when you hang your arms naturally by your side.
  • Sleeve length: Few jackets will have a perfect sleeve length off-the-rack, so most will need to be altered. Just make sure that after alterations, you have about a half inch of shirt cuff peeking out. Unfortunately, this can sometimes be made difficult by what’s called “working buttonholes.”
  • Vents: The vents should stay closed when you’re wearing the jacket, but this is hard to tell in a store because vents are usually sewn shut on a new garment. Take a seam ripper and remove these when you’re home, and just make sure they remain fairly closed when you have the jacket on.
  • Waist: There’s some wiggle room here. You can have the waist nipped to give the jacket more shape, or let out if it feels too tight. In the end, just make sure the jacket isn’t pulling at the buttoning point

Other Details

After that, there are some other details you might want to pay attention to:

  • Quarters: This is the colloquial name for the area of your jacket below the buttoning point. Think about whether you like this area closed or open. It can make a big difference in how your jacket looks. 
  • Buttoning point: On a three-button jacket, button the middle button, and on a two-button jacket, button the top. Notice where this point sits. Ideally, it should be at your natural waist, though fashion designers have been placing it higher and higher. Be aware that an overly high buttoning point can make you look heavier than you are.
  • Lapels: Skinny lapels have been en vogue for a few years now (thanks to Mad Men), but are possibly on their way out. I presume the next fad will be wide lapels at some point. For something classic, stick to something that ends half way between your collar and shoulder point.
  • Notch: Pay attention to where the notches are placed on your lapel. It’s been fashionable to have them very high up on the body, sometimes almost near the top of the shoulders, but like low notches in the 1980s, these will probably go out of fashion at some point. Be wary of extremes. 
  • Balance: When looking at the jacket from the side, the front and back hem should even with each other, or the front should be slightly longer than the back. When viewed from the front, the left and right sides should generally be even. This is called balance. Truthfully, unless you’re getting something bespoke (and even then, this doesn’t always work out), the second part is rare to achieve. If you have a very dropped shoulder, this can affect how the buttons and buttonholes align, which can then throw off how the jacket looks when buttoned.

The second section above is admittedly a bit nit-picky, but it points to some good things to pay attention to when evaluating how a jacket looks on you. Fortunately, there are some workarounds if you see something you don’t like. If the cut of the quarters doesn’t look good, or if the buttoning point is too high, you can always just wear the jacket unbuttoned. And if the balance is a bit off, you can ask an alterations tailor to move the buttons up a bit so that they align with the buttonholes. Finding the perfect jacket can be difficult, so how much you care about getting the perfect fit will greatly depend on how much time and money you want to spend. But at least now you know what to look for.

Skin Tight Shirts
This image has been making the rounds on various menswear blogs as an example of a well-fitting business shirt. Far be it from me to criticize Matteo Marzotto, arguably one of the best-dressed men in the world right now, or the man behind Italian Industrialists and Intellectuals Style (one of my favorite style blogs, and the person who originally posted the picture) - but this is not a well-fitting shirt. 
If your shirt fits like this, you probably can’t sit down. Or eat a snack. Or possibly even exhale. 
In traditional men’s clothing anyway, clothes need not be skin tight to be well-fitting. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Our friend GW here is wearing something that I think sets a good example. There’s enough room in the waist to allow him to sit down and have a full meal, but not so much that excess fabric is bunching above his waistband. If a shirt is truly well-tailored, you can get the fabric to fall cleanly without vacuum sealing it against your body. 
To be sure, it’s hard to get something as nice as GW’s shirt off-the-rack (his was custom made for him), but it’s a good ideal to shoot for. One test you can use when trying on a new shirt is to simply sit down in it and see if the buttons strain at the mid-section. This will tell you if it’s too tight or not.
But hey, what do I know. I’m certainly no Matteo Marzotto. 
(Image via Italian Industrialists and Intellectuals Style)

Skin Tight Shirts

This image has been making the rounds on various menswear blogs as an example of a well-fitting business shirt. Far be it from me to criticize Matteo Marzotto, arguably one of the best-dressed men in the world right now, or the man behind Italian Industrialists and Intellectuals Style (one of my favorite style blogs, and the person who originally posted the picture) - but this is not a well-fitting shirt. 

If your shirt fits like this, you probably can’t sit down. Or eat a snack. Or possibly even exhale. 

In traditional men’s clothing anyway, clothes need not be skin tight to be well-fitting. In fact, they shouldn’t be. Our friend GW here is wearing something that I think sets a good example. There’s enough room in the waist to allow him to sit down and have a full meal, but not so much that excess fabric is bunching above his waistband. If a shirt is truly well-tailored, you can get the fabric to fall cleanly without vacuum sealing it against your body. 

To be sure, it’s hard to get something as nice as GW’s shirt off-the-rack (his was custom made for him), but it’s a good ideal to shoot for. One test you can use when trying on a new shirt is to simply sit down in it and see if the buttons strain at the mid-section. This will tell you if it’s too tight or not.

But hey, what do I know. I’m certainly no Matteo Marzotto

(Image via Italian Industrialists and Intellectuals Style)

Q & Answer: Can I Stretch A Sweater?
Jason asks: Have you ever heard of purposefully stretching sweaters to make the arms/ torso longer? I usually wear a “tall” size but Brooks Brothers only sells regular sizes. When I talked to a sales person there, he said they have a special machine to stretch sweaters. Have you ever hear of this? Are all knit fabrics stretchable?
I guess it’s possible that Brooks Brothers has a special machine to stretch sweaters, but I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing. That said, it is entirely possible to stretch most knits. To a point.
Here’s how it works: wet the sweater fully in cold water, press a bit of excess water out of it gently, then roll it in a towel like it was the ham in a wrap sandwich. You want it to be wet, but not so much so that it won’t dry after a day or so of sitting out.
Then arrange it on a dry towel in the size and shape you’re looking for. Above is a just-knit sweater which is going through this same process, called “blocking.” As you can see, the knitter has used graph markings on a work surface to make sure the piece is the exact right size. You don’t have to be quite that exact.
Do this, and you can get a couple inches of stretch from most knits. The only catch: wet them again and you’ll have to block them again.

Q & Answer: Can I Stretch A Sweater?

Jason asks: Have you ever heard of purposefully stretching sweaters to make the arms/ torso longer? I usually wear a “tall” size but Brooks Brothers only sells regular sizes. When I talked to a sales person there, he said they have a special machine to stretch sweaters. Have you ever hear of this? Are all knit fabrics stretchable?

I guess it’s possible that Brooks Brothers has a special machine to stretch sweaters, but I’ve certainly never heard of such a thing. That said, it is entirely possible to stretch most knits. To a point.

Here’s how it works: wet the sweater fully in cold water, press a bit of excess water out of it gently, then roll it in a towel like it was the ham in a wrap sandwich. You want it to be wet, but not so much so that it won’t dry after a day or so of sitting out.

Then arrange it on a dry towel in the size and shape you’re looking for. Above is a just-knit sweater which is going through this same process, called “blocking.” As you can see, the knitter has used graph markings on a work surface to make sure the piece is the exact right size. You don’t have to be quite that exact.

Do this, and you can get a couple inches of stretch from most knits. The only catch: wet them again and you’ll have to block them again.

The Importance of a Good Fit
Following Pete’s post on Panta, I thought I’d share this great photo of our friend Ed Morel. There are so many “rules” in classic men’s dress that sometimes it’s useful to be reminded which ones are important and which are not. The ones about how you should match your leathers, and how the width of your tie should match the width of your lapel, for example, can always be “ballparked,” as Ed’s done here.
What’s more important is that Ed has well-fitting, comfortable looking clothes. His sport coat is neither fashionably tight nor overly loose, and his pants are slim, but don’t make him look like one of those double-popsicle sticks. The patterned jacket also is adding a bit of visual interest to an ensemble that’s otherwise mostly relying on solid colors. Shoes are nice and shined, and the collar on his shirt is big enough so that the points stay hidden underneath his jacket. To be sure, there are some men who can pull off the “short collar” look, but I think most do better with something like what Ed has here (especially if they’re planning to wear a tie).
And although I still think charcoal trousers can only be worn with a limited number of jackets – typically certain tans and light grays – it looks like we can add Glenfeshie tweed to that list. Ed looks great here in his. 
(Photo via Well Worn Worn Well)

The Importance of a Good Fit

Following Pete’s post on Panta, I thought I’d share this great photo of our friend Ed Morel. There are so many “rules” in classic men’s dress that sometimes it’s useful to be reminded which ones are important and which are not. The ones about how you should match your leathers, and how the width of your tie should match the width of your lapel, for example, can always be “ballparked,” as Ed’s done here.

What’s more important is that Ed has well-fitting, comfortable looking clothes. His sport coat is neither fashionably tight nor overly loose, and his pants are slim, but don’t make him look like one of those double-popsicle sticks. The patterned jacket also is adding a bit of visual interest to an ensemble that’s otherwise mostly relying on solid colors. Shoes are nice and shined, and the collar on his shirt is big enough so that the points stay hidden underneath his jacket. To be sure, there are some men who can pull off the “short collar” look, but I think most do better with something like what Ed has here (especially if they’re planning to wear a tie).

And although I still think charcoal trousers can only be worn with a limited number of jackets – typically certain tans and light grays – it looks like we can add Glenfeshie tweed to that list. Ed looks great here in his. 

(Photo via Well Worn Worn Well)

What Is Balance?
If you’ve ever participated in online forums about classic men’s clothing, you may have come across people talking about a jacket’s “balance.” But what is balance? Sometimes, it’s a nebulous concept - just a way of someone saying whether they think a jacket looks off or not. Most of the time, however, it refers to something very specific: how a jacket hangs from the shoulders.
To understand this, you have to remember that a jacket takes on the shape of our bodies, so our unique contours and posture will affect how it fits. Which is why if you take two men with the same chest size, the same jacket can look very different on each of them.
There are two aspects to a jacket’s balance. The first is how the front and back lengths relate to each other. Very simply, if you look at a man from his side, the front hem of his jacket should be either roughly even with his back, or it can be slightly longer. The back, generally speaking, should never be longer than the front. If it is, you may see the quarters of the coat (the area of the front below the buttoning point) hike up and possibly “swing inward.”  
This can happen for a number of reasons. One might be that the person stands too erect, so the back essentially “dips down” while the front “hikes up.” It may also be that the person has a very large stomach, so the front of the jacket doesn’t have enough material to cover that area without disturbing how the jacket hangs.
The opposite of this is also possible. Someone might have prominent shoulder blades or stand with a stoop. In this case, he’ll need a bit more length in the back and less in the front. Otherwise, the quarters of his jacket might fall away towards his hips and the vents at the back might gape.
The second aspect of balance refers to how the left and right sides of a jacket relate to each other. Similarly, these should also be aligned. This might seem like it should occur naturally, but certain things can complicate it. If your right shoulder is considerably lower than your left (which is very common, by the way), you’ll notice that everything on the right side of your jacket will also be dropped accordingly.
Fixing this isn’t as easy as just adding length to the right side or taking away some on the left, however. It’s not just the hem that’s affected, it’s everything on the right – the way the left and right pockets align with each other, the notches on your lapels, as well as the buttons and buttonholes. A tailor can fix this for you, but it helps to know what to look for in order to assess whether a jacket fits you correctly.
All this can seem confusing and complicated if you’ve never thought about these concepts. In the end, however, you can simply think of it like this: if someone were to view you from the side, the front and back of your jacket should be even, or the front can be slightly longer than the back. You can examine this by seeing how the hem aligns. Similarly, when viewed from the front, the left and right sides of your jacket’s hem should be roughly even as well. If they’re not, it can be said that your jacket’s balance is off.  
(Photo via Voxsartoria)

What Is Balance?

If you’ve ever participated in online forums about classic men’s clothing, you may have come across people talking about a jacket’s “balance.” But what is balance? Sometimes, it’s a nebulous concept - just a way of someone saying whether they think a jacket looks off or not. Most of the time, however, it refers to something very specific: how a jacket hangs from the shoulders.

To understand this, you have to remember that a jacket takes on the shape of our bodies, so our unique contours and posture will affect how it fits. Which is why if you take two men with the same chest size, the same jacket can look very different on each of them.

There are two aspects to a jacket’s balance. The first is how the front and back lengths relate to each other. Very simply, if you look at a man from his side, the front hem of his jacket should be either roughly even with his back, or it can be slightly longer. The back, generally speaking, should never be longer than the front. If it is, you may see the quarters of the coat (the area of the front below the buttoning point) hike up and possibly “swing inward.”  

This can happen for a number of reasons. One might be that the person stands too erect, so the back essentially “dips down” while the front “hikes up.” It may also be that the person has a very large stomach, so the front of the jacket doesn’t have enough material to cover that area without disturbing how the jacket hangs.

The opposite of this is also possible. Someone might have prominent shoulder blades or stand with a stoop. In this case, he’ll need a bit more length in the back and less in the front. Otherwise, the quarters of his jacket might fall away towards his hips and the vents at the back might gape.

The second aspect of balance refers to how the left and right sides of a jacket relate to each other. Similarly, these should also be aligned. This might seem like it should occur naturally, but certain things can complicate it. If your right shoulder is considerably lower than your left (which is very common, by the way), you’ll notice that everything on the right side of your jacket will also be dropped accordingly.

Fixing this isn’t as easy as just adding length to the right side or taking away some on the left, however. It’s not just the hem that’s affected, it’s everything on the right – the way the left and right pockets align with each other, the notches on your lapels, as well as the buttons and buttonholes. A tailor can fix this for you, but it helps to know what to look for in order to assess whether a jacket fits you correctly.

All this can seem confusing and complicated if you’ve never thought about these concepts. In the end, however, you can simply think of it like this: if someone were to view you from the side, the front and back of your jacket should be even, or the front can be slightly longer than the back. You can examine this by seeing how the hem aligns. Similarly, when viewed from the front, the left and right sides of your jacket’s hem should be roughly even as well. If they’re not, it can be said that your jacket’s balance is off.  

(Photo via Voxsartoria)

Q & Answer: How Do I Eliminate the Blousing on a Shirt?
Gary writes: I just got a new job and am having to wear dress shirts for the first time. I went out this weekend and tried a bunch on, but all of them seem to blouse and billow over the top of my pants. Is there any way to fix this, or do I just have to keep searching for the perfect shirt?
Ready-to-wear clothing rarely fits perfectly off the rack. Remember, garments are made with an imaginary person in mind, usually someone that’s an “average” of the demographic the company is trying to target. You’re unlikely to be that exact average, so some alterations will likely be necessary.
The less you alter a garment, however, the better. So the first step is to find a shirt that fits as well as possible. After you find one and purchase it, take it to the tailors to have the sides slimmed down. This will take out most of the billowing, but be sure to not go too slim. You want to be able to sit down and have a full meal, after all.
If you’d like, you can also have darts put in. These will help reduce the fullness in the lower back. They’re good for most men, but if you stand with a bit of a hunch, note that they’ll accentuate your less than ideal posture (as they’ll create a bit of an S curve from your side profile). You can get them put into one shirt and see how you like the effect. They can be taken out afterwards if you don’t like them, but on many cotton shirts, this will leave some faint lines where the darts used to be. The job of taking in the sides and putting in darts should probably run you something like $15.
If you find that you still have some blousing even after alterations, you can try the military tuck. That’s when you tuck your shirt in straight, but then pinch the sides and pull them back to reduce fullness. You can see a simple guide on how to do it here.
A good alterations tailor and military tuck will solve most of the billowing, but if you’re striving for perfection, you’ll likely need to go custom. I’ve written a seven-part series on custom shirts, which you can read here.
This is one area where I find bespoke makers to be a bit better than most made-to-measure services. With a good bespoke tailor, you’re getting a custom pattern drafted from scratch. With made-to-measure, the company is usually altering an existing pattern through some computer program. The first, from my experience, allows you to more easily account things that might not be easily captured by simple measurements. For example, my tailor (Ascot Chang) lowered the waist point on my first pattern, so that narrowest part of the shirt aligned with the narrowest point of my torso. This allowed the shirt to better transition as it moved down to my hips, thus distributing the fullness perfectly when my shirt is tucked (like this). That kind of adjustment is often not possible through made-to-measure, and isn’t something an alterations tailor can do for you. 
Bespoke shirts are expensive, however. If you don’t mind the cost, I think they’re worth it. For most men though, a $15 alterations job and military tuck will deliver most of what they need. 
(Photo via GQ)

Q & Answer: How Do I Eliminate the Blousing on a Shirt?

Gary writes: I just got a new job and am having to wear dress shirts for the first time. I went out this weekend and tried a bunch on, but all of them seem to blouse and billow over the top of my pants. Is there any way to fix this, or do I just have to keep searching for the perfect shirt?

Ready-to-wear clothing rarely fits perfectly off the rack. Remember, garments are made with an imaginary person in mind, usually someone that’s an “average” of the demographic the company is trying to target. You’re unlikely to be that exact average, so some alterations will likely be necessary.

The less you alter a garment, however, the better. So the first step is to find a shirt that fits as well as possible. After you find one and purchase it, take it to the tailors to have the sides slimmed down. This will take out most of the billowing, but be sure to not go too slim. You want to be able to sit down and have a full meal, after all.

If you’d like, you can also have darts put in. These will help reduce the fullness in the lower back. They’re good for most men, but if you stand with a bit of a hunch, note that they’ll accentuate your less than ideal posture (as they’ll create a bit of an S curve from your side profile). You can get them put into one shirt and see how you like the effect. They can be taken out afterwards if you don’t like them, but on many cotton shirts, this will leave some faint lines where the darts used to be. The job of taking in the sides and putting in darts should probably run you something like $15.

If you find that you still have some blousing even after alterations, you can try the military tuck. That’s when you tuck your shirt in straight, but then pinch the sides and pull them back to reduce fullness. You can see a simple guide on how to do it here.

A good alterations tailor and military tuck will solve most of the billowing, but if you’re striving for perfection, you’ll likely need to go custom. I’ve written a seven-part series on custom shirts, which you can read here.

This is one area where I find bespoke makers to be a bit better than most made-to-measure services. With a good bespoke tailor, you’re getting a custom pattern drafted from scratch. With made-to-measure, the company is usually altering an existing pattern through some computer program. The first, from my experience, allows you to more easily account things that might not be easily captured by simple measurements. For example, my tailor (Ascot Chang) lowered the waist point on my first pattern, so that narrowest part of the shirt aligned with the narrowest point of my torso. This allowed the shirt to better transition as it moved down to my hips, thus distributing the fullness perfectly when my shirt is tucked (like this). That kind of adjustment is often not possible through made-to-measure, and isn’t something an alterations tailor can do for you. 

Bespoke shirts are expensive, however. If you don’t mind the cost, I think they’re worth it. For most men though, a $15 alterations job and military tuck will deliver most of what they need. 

(Photo via GQ)

Q & Answer: My Arms Are Long. Where Can I Buy Clothes?
Abe asks: My question to you is how to shop if you have long arms? 
 In my case, I am 6’3” and my arm length is almost 40 inches. Given that tall/long clothing usually has 37 inch arms, what can I guy like me do in terms of off the rack clothing? Surely I am not the only one with this problem!
We get questions like this all the time from readers with extraordinary physical proportions. (I’m 6’3”, with longish arms, and they’re four inches shorter than Abe’s.) The truth is that you’ll simply have to go custom.
There are many retailers which offer tall sizes - online, I’d say you can check out LL Bean, Lands’ End, Banana Republic and J. Crew, for starters. That’ll work if you’re just a little taller than average. But if you’re way taller than average, or have much longer legs, or much longer arms, or a very, very small neck, or some other physical proportion that makes you Very Special… off the rack isn’t going to work for you.
The good news, though, is that we live in a golden age of custom clothes. It can sometimes take a few tries to get the fit right without an in-person consultation (and if you can afford it, I’d recommend a local, in-person maker), but if you can’t buy off the rack, it’s absolutely worth it. Derek wrote a series about custom shirts, and you can start there.

Q & Answer: My Arms Are Long. Where Can I Buy Clothes?

Abe asks: My question to you is how to shop if you have long arms?

 In my case, I am 6’3” and my arm length is almost 40 inches. Given that tall/long clothing usually has 37 inch arms, what can I guy like me do in terms of off the rack clothing? Surely I am not the only one with this problem!

We get questions like this all the time from readers with extraordinary physical proportions. (I’m 6’3”, with longish arms, and they’re four inches shorter than Abe’s.) The truth is that you’ll simply have to go custom.

There are many retailers which offer tall sizes - online, I’d say you can check out LL Bean, Lands’ End, Banana Republic and J. Crew, for starters. That’ll work if you’re just a little taller than average. But if you’re way taller than average, or have much longer legs, or much longer arms, or a very, very small neck, or some other physical proportion that makes you Very Special… off the rack isn’t going to work for you.

The good news, though, is that we live in a golden age of custom clothes. It can sometimes take a few tries to get the fit right without an in-person consultation (and if you can afford it, I’d recommend a local, in-person maker), but if you can’t buy off the rack, it’s absolutely worth it. Derek wrote a series about custom shirts, and you can start there.

Q & Answer: My Pocket Square Makes My Lapel Bulge!
Gus asks: I have a recurring problem with my jackets: the left lapel bulges open when I put a pocket square in the breast pocket.  Do you know of the cause of this and the cure?
The answer’s about as simple as you’d think it would be. Either your pocket square’s too big or your coat’s too small. With our squares, we usually cut at 16” square, though we go down a bit smaller for heavier fabric to prevent this problem. You can try a less scrunchy, more foldy pocket square arrangement - that might cut down on volume.
More likely though is that your coat is fitting tightly, either in the chest or at the buttoning point. So either have it let out a bit or hit the gym. The fad for tight-fitting jackets has led to a lot of gaping and bowing in our nation’s lapels, and jamming a pocket square in there can exacerbate the problem.

Q & Answer: My Pocket Square Makes My Lapel Bulge!

Gus asks: I have a recurring problem with my jackets: the left lapel bulges open when I put a pocket square in the breast pocket.  Do you know of the cause of this and the cure?

The answer’s about as simple as you’d think it would be. Either your pocket square’s too big or your coat’s too small. With our squares, we usually cut at 16” square, though we go down a bit smaller for heavier fabric to prevent this problem. You can try a less scrunchy, more foldy pocket square arrangement - that might cut down on volume.

More likely though is that your coat is fitting tightly, either in the chest or at the buttoning point. So either have it let out a bit or hit the gym. The fad for tight-fitting jackets has led to a lot of gaping and bowing in our nation’s lapels, and jamming a pocket square in there can exacerbate the problem.

These days, our friend PG from MostExerent works for a tech company that frowns on suits. His blog’s now mostly a record of his cycling and travel. There’s no better expert on the shape of tailored clothes, though, and his advice here is very much worth paying attention to.
mostexerent:

Another gem from my archives (2011) which will answer some recent messages & this time uncovered by linenforsummertweedforwinter:
Shape, Drape or Both?
Both is possible & preferable in my opinion - too many are trapped into thinking that tight fitting means shape.. When it is actually the opposite.
See how my jacket still has shape even not button up.
How is this possible?
Start with the shoulders then working down to the cuff:
Make sure they sit on with a slight extension & not before the shoulder point
“Natural” shaped shoulder line gives a softer & more sensual appearance whilst a structured shoulder will add power as well as elegance - nothing wrong with either as long as they suit your body type & not over built.
The chest needs enough fullness & not tightness - see the clean subtle draping. No creases or gaping. Everything looks ”natural”
The waist has ”natural” suppression at the ”natural” waist point to give shape - not tight like a corset
Hips are in line with the shoulder or below to give balance
Pants are sitting at your ”natural” waist not hips
Open quarters aka the bottom of the jacket where the left & right meet (noticeable when buttoned) will mirror the lapels in a figure eight
Skirt of the jacket has a slight flare
Pantaloons are hanging naturally & with a slight break.
So as it starts to warm up, ”airforce blue” is always a great option to wearing navy or grey. Especially if there is some mohair in the mix. This suit is totally different in direct light, it’s like DISCO! So one has to ensure the other components are subtle.
You want to make sure the over all effect does not compete but look ”natural”.
The oncoming eye should not be competing for any detail..
So DITCH the H belt or novelty cuff links..
Details | Suit - P Johnson in Loro Piana wool/mohair for GW | Shirt - P Johnson in Thomas Mason for GW | Knit tie - Drakes (this one is a mix of black & navy) | PS - vintage Japanese kimono cloth | DubMunks - John Lobb 2010 St Crepin for Leather Soul for GW
* My Sistah just enjoys PHOTO BOMBING!
** FYI - I am standing 3m away from the camera whilst my Sistah is 1.5m
Cut your coat according to your cloth.

These days, our friend PG from MostExerent works for a tech company that frowns on suits. His blog’s now mostly a record of his cycling and travel. There’s no better expert on the shape of tailored clothes, though, and his advice here is very much worth paying attention to.

mostexerent:

Another gem from my archives (2011) which will answer some recent messages & this time uncovered by linenforsummertweedforwinter:

Shape, Drape or Both?

Both is possible & preferable in my opinion - too many are trapped into thinking that tight fitting means shape.. When it is actually the opposite.

See how my jacket still has shape even not button up.

How is this possible?

Start with the shoulders then working down to the cuff:

  • Make sure they sit on with a slight extension & not before the shoulder point
  • “Natural” shaped shoulder line gives a softer & more sensual appearance whilst a structured shoulder will add power as well as elegance - nothing wrong with either as long as they suit your body type & not over built.
  • The chest needs enough fullness & not tightness - see the clean subtle draping. No creases or gaping. Everything looks ”natural”
  • The waist has ”natural” suppression at the ”natural” waist point to give shape - not tight like a corset
  • Hips are in line with the shoulder or below to give balance
  • Pants are sitting at your ”natural” waist not hips
  • Open quarters aka the bottom of the jacket where the left & right meet (noticeable when buttoned) will mirror the lapels in a figure eight
  • Skirt of the jacket has a slight flare
  • Pantaloons are hanging naturally & with a slight break.

So as it starts to warm up, ”airforce blue” is always a great option to wearing navy or grey. Especially if there is some mohair in the mix. This suit is totally different in direct light, it’s like DISCO! So one has to ensure the other components are subtle.

You want to make sure the over all effect does not compete but look ”natural”.

The oncoming eye should not be competing for any detail..

So DITCH the H belt or novelty cuff links..

Details | Suit - P Johnson in Loro Piana wool/mohair for GW | Shirt - P Johnson in Thomas Mason for GW | Knit tie - Drakes (this one is a mix of black & navy) | PS - vintage Japanese kimono cloth | DubMunks - John Lobb 2010 St Crepin for Leather Soul for GW

* My Sistah just enjoys PHOTO BOMBING!

** FYI - I am standing 3m away from the camera whilst my Sistah is 1.5m

Cut your coat according to your cloth.

Accessorizing Your Way Out
One of the most common mistakes men make when trying to dress well is believing that all their outfit needs is something to make it “pop.” I imagine what happens is this: a man looks at himself in the morning, doesn’t like what he sees, and thinks what could make him look better is a more “original” tie. The new tie unfortunately doesn’t do anything, so he puts some knick-knack into his jacket’s lapel hole. That again doesn’t solve anything, so he swaps out his leather watchband for NATO strap. Still unsatisfied, he puts on a bracelet, a scarf, a funkier belt, an unusual hat, and then stuffs a smoking pipe into his jacket’s breast pocket for final effect. At that point, he runs out of accessories, so he leaves to face the day.
The problem with this is that it ignores why the ensemble was unsatisfying in the first place. Nine times out of ten, it’s because his clothes don’t fit well, and they won’t fit any better just because there are a dozen accessories layered over them. Maybe they’ll distract the viewer from the ill-fitting clothes, but not to any positive effect.
If your clothes fit well, you can dress quite simply. Matt Damon, who played the main character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, demonstrates this in the photo above. The original French version of that film, Purple Noon, also had men in very simple outfits, but still looking quite sharp. With a pair of trousers, shoes, socks, and just a basic shirt – so long as the fit is impeccable – you will look good.
This is not to say that unusual accessories can’t sometimes add character. Indeed, they can. But it’s a mistake to look at photos online or in magazines and think that what makes any particular man look good is a bracelet or some piece of bauble. On the contrary, those are just icings on the cake (the rake?). At the foundation, these men look good because their clothes fit well, and unless yours do too, there is no accessory that will change that fact. In other words, you can’t accessorize your way out of a bad fit. 
Which is why, if you’re just starting to build a wardrobe, you should focus on the best fitting basics you can. A perfectly fitting navy sport coat will be better than five in the closet that are slightly off. That navy jacket can be worn multiple times a week without anyone noticing, and the resulting outfits can be made to look different by relying on a very minimal neckwear collection. Similarly, a pair of chinos, jeans, and two grey wool trousers can be relied upon multiple times a week, but they must fit excellently. Spending as much as you can on just three to five pairs of pants will be smarter than having fifteen that are too slim or baggy for your build. Fit is the first requirement; stylistic details and accessories come after.

Accessorizing Your Way Out

One of the most common mistakes men make when trying to dress well is believing that all their outfit needs is something to make it “pop.” I imagine what happens is this: a man looks at himself in the morning, doesn’t like what he sees, and thinks what could make him look better is a more “original” tie. The new tie unfortunately doesn’t do anything, so he puts some knick-knack into his jacket’s lapel hole. That again doesn’t solve anything, so he swaps out his leather watchband for NATO strap. Still unsatisfied, he puts on a bracelet, a scarf, a funkier belt, an unusual hat, and then stuffs a smoking pipe into his jacket’s breast pocket for final effect. At that point, he runs out of accessories, so he leaves to face the day.

The problem with this is that it ignores why the ensemble was unsatisfying in the first place. Nine times out of ten, it’s because his clothes don’t fit well, and they won’t fit any better just because there are a dozen accessories layered over them. Maybe they’ll distract the viewer from the ill-fitting clothes, but not to any positive effect.

If your clothes fit well, you can dress quite simply. Matt Damon, who played the main character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, demonstrates this in the photo above. The original French version of that film, Purple Noon, also had men in very simple outfits, but still looking quite sharp. With a pair of trousers, shoes, socks, and just a basic shirt – so long as the fit is impeccable – you will look good.

This is not to say that unusual accessories can’t sometimes add character. Indeed, they can. But it’s a mistake to look at photos online or in magazines and think that what makes any particular man look good is a bracelet or some piece of bauble. On the contrary, those are just icings on the cake (the rake?). At the foundation, these men look good because their clothes fit well, and unless yours do too, there is no accessory that will change that fact. In other words, you can’t accessorize your way out of a bad fit. 

Which is why, if you’re just starting to build a wardrobe, you should focus on the best fitting basics you can. A perfectly fitting navy sport coat will be better than five in the closet that are slightly off. That navy jacket can be worn multiple times a week without anyone noticing, and the resulting outfits can be made to look different by relying on a very minimal neckwear collection. Similarly, a pair of chinos, jeans, and two grey wool trousers can be relied upon multiple times a week, but they must fit excellently. Spending as much as you can on just three to five pairs of pants will be smarter than having fifteen that are too slim or baggy for your build. Fit is the first requirement; stylistic details and accessories come after.