Let’s cut to the chase – fit is king. Getting clothes in the right fit is important because a well-fitting suit, dress shirt or pair of trousers makes you feel comfortable, smart and confident. As a men’s stylist, this is the number one tip I discuss with clients.
Fit can spell the difference between a sloppy look and polished look. In this article, I share my tips as a fashion stylist and look at the different types of fit to help you decide what really works best for you.
The fit basics
Let’s start with how a shirt and jacket should fit your body regardless of your build or size. Shirts should be snug across the chest, but not so snug that the fabric pulls between the buttons. This is an indication that the shirt is too narrow across the chest and back for you. Keep in mind however, that a blousy, billowy shirt is just as unflattering as a skin tight one.
You should be able to comfortably fit at least one finger in between your neck and the collar of the shirt when it’s buttoned. The cuffs of the shirt should fall to the crook between the base of your thumb and your wrist, and not fall over your hand.
A good jacket starts at the shoulders – it should fit your posture and flatter your frame. Jackets should not finish beyond the shoulder (think Jerry Seinfeld in the 90s) The suit jacket should be neither too tight nor too loose – it should gently hug the body but not restrict you in any way. The jacket should pull smoothly across your back when buttoned, lapels should sit flat across your chest and it should finish no longer than under the bum (or your knuckles in a fist)
Your jacket sleeves should actually be shorter than your shirt sleeve. Ensure approximately 1cm of shirt cuff is exposed from the sleeve of your jacket. Oversized, boxy jackets and shirts are dated and provide no definition to the upper body. Whether you’re a slim build or a heavier one, the same rules apply to fit.
The main difference in the various types of fit is the amount of fabric used in the clothing. The slim fit fits the body closely and comfortably. It is a good choice for men whose body type is lean and slim, with narrower shoulders and chest. For many brands, the slim fit is usually the tightest fit available and offers no allowance for tailoring down.
A tapered fit is generally what is most commonly found in menswear in 2021, and is considered the most ‘modern’ look for men of any age. For pants, this fit tapers down from the the thigh to the cuff, meaning we also want the pants to sit on the shoe rather than over. If you wear a tapered fit pant or jean too long, it will only bunch at the ankle and your legs will look shorter.
Tapered shirts essentially do the same thing. They start with a comfortable fit on the shoulders, then taper down the body through the waist. A taper fit is an excellent choice for athletic shapes as it naturally follows the line of the body (think broad shoulders/narrow hips)
The classic fit (sometimes referred to as tailored) offers a little bit more fabric so it doesn’t cling as closely to the body as a slim or tapered fit does. The cut is preferred for men with heavier mid sections who require more fabric to skim the stomach and back rather than cling. It’s also a better cut for those with solid legs and thighs as a classic trouser or jean will naturally be a straighter cut through the legs.
An advantage of the tailored fit is that it has allowance for further tailoring, so you can take it to your tailor who can work their magic to make sure that it fits you perfectly. One of the most important things any man can do to ensure the right fit, is find a good tailor. Don’t expect everything to fit you straight off the rack. Small tweaks like hemming a pant, adjusting the waist (in our out) or shortening jacket sleeves can make a significant difference to how an item of clothing flatters your body.
The important thing is that regardless of your build, you still want your clothing to follow the line of your shape – i.e. not overwhelm it with too much fabric (think too big) nor cling and stretch (too small)