If you’re like a lot of men, you may feel like you’re on a never-ending quest to find the perfect suit. But it’s not often that designer suits fit just right when you get them off the rack. That’s why finding an experienced local tailor is often the secret to a great fit. But even if you’re unfamiliar with made to measure clothing, there are some hallmarks of a bad fit that are easy to spot. That’s especially true when it comes to the all-important suit jacket. An ill-fitting jacket will undoubtedly make a poor impression, no matter the occasion. Should any of the following signs sound familiar, you’ll want to go to a great tailor right away.
Your jacket is too small if…
- “X” marks the spot
If you were a pirate, an “X” might indicate treasure beyond your wildest dreams. But when it comes to a tailored suit, it’s not something you ever want to see. If you button the top or middle button on your spot coat and the fabric pulls to form an “X” with the wrinkles at the fastening point, that’s a surefire sign your suit jacket is too small. With most suits, there should be no pulling where your suit jacket buttons.
- The shoulders are too tight
When designer suits fit well, their shoulders should lie flat. That’s why they’re one of the first places you should look when determining proper fit. If the shoulder of your suit jacket looks too snug (i.e., you can clearly see the outline of your actual shoulder through the fabric or you can barely move your arms), your jacket is way too small.
- You’ve got too much cuff
Cuff links can be a fancy addition to your sleeve, but you should never show off too much cuff. The sleeve of your jacket should come up no higher than a half-inch of so on your cuff. If you’re showing more than that — or worse, are showing the entire cuff — your jacket sleeves are too short. If you have longer arms than average, you may want to look for premium mens suits made to these specifications and talk to your tailor.
Your jacket is too roomy if…
- You have to mind the gap
This is a more subtle sign, but it’s an important one nonetheless. The collar of your jacket can tell you a lot about the fit. Not only should your jacket collar reveal no more or no less than two centimeters of the shirt collar below it, but there should also be no visible gap between the shirt collar and the jacket collar. The collar of your jacket should follow the line of your shirt’s collar as if they’re one unit. If there’s a gap, your jacket might be too big or it might not have been properly tailored to your proportions. Even the highest-quality designer suits may produce this effect on you if they aren’t tailored well.
- The shoulders have a divot
Divots aren’t a good thing on the putting green, nor are they a good thing in a suit jacket. These shoulder indentations form when a jacket is too big and the jacket’s shoulders extend past your own. It can also indicate when a wearer’s natural stance is at odds with a jacket’s original construction. This is one of the hardest components of a suit to tailor, so it’s best to find a jacket that fits your shoulders from the start.
- All people can say is “so long!”
No matter what kind of clothing you wear, you should never look as if you’re being swallowed up by a garment. Designer suits should never be purposely over-sized, as you’ll always look sloppy. Can’t tell whether your jacket is too long? Relax your hands at your sides and see where the bottom of your jacket hits. It should fall around the middle of your hand, where your fingers meet your palm. Any longer than that and it’s a bad fit.
The real solution to ill-fitting jackets? Buy high-quality suits and get them tailored. It’s even better if you can do both at once!