Did you know over 50% of American men wear the wrong suit size? Typically, it seems, we err on the side of too large. Maybe it’s because we’re too vain to admit our shoulders aren’t as wide as we think. Or perhaps we think a larger suit will hide a little belly better. It might even be that we think the extra room is more comfortable. Whatever the reason, we end up looking like little kids playing dress up in dad’s closet or like we’re completely fashion inept. When buying a suit, make sure each piece fits correctly. This starts with your chest measurement. Stand straight, don’t hold your breath or puff your chest out and then measure right across the fullest part of your chest (usually right across the nipples) and around your back. Most men fall between 40 and 44 inches, although smaller and larger measurements are normal. Keep this measurement in mind when you start looking at suits. Conventional wisdom says if you fall between sizes, like you’re a 43 and suits are either 42 or 44, go for the 44. But this is misleading. Not all suit brands are exactly the same; the cut and fit vary. So try both a 42 and a 44 to see if one fits better than the other. There is no hard and fast rule that says a man must not wear a 42 suit if he’s a 43 chest. As long as the fit is correct the number is irrelevant.
Jackets should fit snug (but not tight) in the shoulder with the shoulder pad lining up evenly with the outside edge of your arm. Anything over the edge of your shoulder is too big. When buttoned, the front of the suit should lay flat and not be pulled or bunched. If it does, it’s too small. If the jacket seems to “wobble” on you from side to side, even a little, it’s too big. Pants should rest comfortably just above your hips with enough length to fully cover any exposed sock and about half of the back heel of a pair of dress shoes. This means they will likely puddle a bit in the front, but it ensures you won’t be showing any leg when you sit down. Never feel like you have to buy a decent suit ‘as-is.’ Any reputable store will be more than willing to make alterations. In fact, it’s an expected part of the process. Just avoid traps like taking in shoulders (this messes with the entire fit of the suit), over shortening pants or sleeves, or taking in more than an inch on the waist. Once you’ve made some alterations, always try the suit on again before you walk out with it. If clothes make the man, then fit is what makes a statement..