Last Updated on October 24, 2023 by Alterations Express Staff
Suits. A closet must-have — the cherry on top for any capsule wardrobe. And one of the most timeless pieces of clothing in your wardrobe. But do you actually know if your suit fits you correctly? Sleeves too long? Are your pants not tapered enough? Are you wearing a 32 jacket when you should be wearing a 34-slim? A suit is that crucial closet essential: when it fits, you look great, and when it doesn’t, you really miss the mark.
Most men don’t realize that almost no one has what would be considered an ‘off-the-rack’ body type. Men’s suits are now manufactured to fit a wide range of sizing needs, which means that tailoring is absolutely necessary to get an off-the-rack suit to fit properly. Check out our guide to suit alterations below and explore 4 tips to achieving the perfectly fitted suit for any body type on any budget.
- Get the Fit Right in the Shoulders
- Proper Suit Jacket Length
- Different Pant Breaks & Waist+Seat
- Suit Sleeve Length: General Rule of Thumb
Video via Suits Expert
Pro Tip: Before taking the next step of purchasing a suit, make sure to find a seamstress, tailor, or local retailer within your area that can take your measurements. Even if you’ve purchased suits in the past and think you know your measurements, it’s good to have a professional recommend sizing and cut (Slim, Classic, or Modern Fit) for you based on your unique body type. Especially if you’re going to be buying your suit off-the-rack and online, knowing your measurements and what cut to purchase is key to getting off on the right foot for your suit alterations.
Make Sure to get the Fit Right in the Shoulders
The shoulder area of a suit or sport coat is crucial to achieving the perfect fit. Why? Firstly, when the shoulders of a suit jacket are too big, it’s extremely noticeable. Take a look at the image below to get an idea of what we’re talking about. Secondly, the shoulder area of a sport is a bit difficult and expensive to alter. So, instead of spending more money on tailoring, invest in a higher-quality suit that is your correct size from the start.
Here’s our recommendation: Before taking the next step of purchasing a suit, make sure to find a seamstress or tailor within your area that can take your measurements. A professional can recommend sizing and cut (Slim, Classic, or Modern Fit) for your suit based on your individual body type.
Bottom Line: Know. Your. Measurements. This will save you a lot of time and money in the future. Additionally, when you’re purchasing the correct size, it is almost guaranteed that you’ll achieve the ideal fit in the shoulders of your sport coat.
How to Determine Proper Suit Jacket Length
Use both of these methods to determine if your suit jacket is the accurate length. From the front, with your arms at your sides, you should be able to fit the length of your hand into the inside of your suit jacket. If your hand is too big and is exposed when inside the jacket, you might want to size up or go for a longer fit option. Ideally, the length of your suit jacket should align with your knuckles, give or take about one inch.
From the back, the suit jacket should just cover the curvature of your buttock. If the suit jacket is exposing your butt or going way past it into your upper thigh, it’s probably too long or too short. To fix the suit jacket length, we recommend either sizing up or down or fixing the issue with alterations.
Pant Length: Full Break vs. No Break
There are technically four options when discussing suits and pant length: No break, a quarter break, a half break, or a full break. Which pant length option you choose should be dependent on two things: personal preference and height. In addition, regarding pant length, pay attention to style trends occurring throughout the fashion world, and also consider the type of shoe that you intend on wearing with your suit. Both factors will play an important role in deciding the proper pant length.
For shorter guys, you’ll want to opt for the no-break option. A no-break pant option is shorter, barely touching the top of your dress shoe. A shorter pant length will create an elongated look that will make you appear taller and leaner. Likewise, taller men should opt for a full-break pant option. However, don’t forget to factor in your personal preference when considering pant length. This aspect of suit tailoring is definitely more flexible and can be calibrated to individual tastes. For more information about suit pant length guidelines, check out this video by Real Men Real Style.
Image via Ashley Weston
How to Achieve the Perfect Fit in Pants Waist & Seat
Suit pants can also be adjusted in the hips, waist, and seat. Pant alterations and tailoring are relatively common and not too expensive. Because of this, we recommend that if you’re between sizes in trousers, size up and then get the suit pants tailored to fit you in the hips and butt. Also, for certain men, consider getting your suit pants tapered. Especially for slim-cut suits, a nicely tapered pant leg can create a more elongated look and help accentuate your best features.
What is the Proper Sleeve Length for Your Suit?
Sleeve length on a suit is a must-have to getting your suit to fit correctly. It’s also a dead giveaway to see when someone hasn’t had their suit tailored. This area of a suit is also one of the most affordable areas to get tailored (pssst.. Check out our blog post about Common Alteration Prices). So, how do you know if your sleeves are too long? Here’s the general rule: With your hands down at your sides, you should be able to see between a quarter to a half-inch of your dress shirt. Check out our guide below to give you an idea of how this should look with your suit.
Okay, so now that you know the cardinal rules regarding suit style, let’s talk about what you need to know before visiting a tailor.
How long does it take to tailor a suit?
This really depends on the tailor you visit and the number of alterations your suit requires. But, on average, most tailors are able to complete alterations for a suit within 7 days of the initial fitting. (Keep in mind that Alterations Express completes any alteration project in 4 days or less! We also offer express alteration options to get the work done whenever you need it.)
How much does it cost to get a suit tailored?
For the cost of suit alterations, remember that sportcoats and dress pants for a suit are priced separately. As with all alteration projects, the cost depends on the number of alterations that are needed. However, on average, suit alterations can cost anywhere from $75 to $180.
What you need to bring for your fitting:
Remember to bring your dress shoes, belt, and proper undergarments with you when you visit your tailor. These items will be essential to achieve the most precise measurements during your fitting. Also, make sure to bring these items on pickup as well. It’s helpful to try on the suit before departing from your local tailor to make sure that any last-minute adjustments can be made.
Suits are an essential part of any well-rounded wardrobe. And proper tailoring is essential to achieving a perfectly fitted suit. Finding a tailor, you can trust to provide style and advice regarding suit alterations is extremely helpful when purchasing a new suit. Follow the suit tailoring guidelines we’ve outlined above, and you’re sure to achieve the perfectly tailored suit.