Whether you’re replacing a worn out suit for work or attending an event that calls for you to wear a suit, it’s important that it fits you correctly as you want to look and feel the most stylish and sophisticated you can. Taking the time to measure yourself properly before purchasing a suit will save you time and money, as well as ensure you buy the appropriate size. With more than 25 years in the tailoring biz, Marc Darcy shares some tips on getting your measurements right.
Top tip: record measurements in both inches and centimetres so you’re prepared for both options when buying.
What’s a good fitting suit?
When you’re trying on a suit, you’re looking for a fit that looks good in your natural stance. This means standing up straight with your arms relaxed at your side – you should also pop on the the kind of shoes you’ll be wearing with your suit. When you’ve got it on, you should be looking for a good fit in the following areas:
Your jacket collar should rest against your shirt collar without any significant gaps. A loose fitting jacket is easy to spot as there will be a gap at the back of your neck. A tight collar is a little more tricky to spot but not impossible – when wearing the jacket, turn from side to side in front of a mirror and look for any bunching or folding at the back of the neck.
A suit that fits your shoulders well should lie flat with the seam starting at the top of your shoulder and trace the length of it. The sleeve should begin at the point where your arm meets your shoulder. Anything that hikes up your shoulder bone or dangles down your arm is considered a poor fit.
When you’re wearing a suit jacket or blazer while standing, you should have the jacket buttoned once. This means that while you’re trying on a blazer, you should make sure that you’re able to close the jacket over your body. When you’re buttoning your jacket, you should check to see if the two sides meet neatly with a smooth finish.
In terms of length, a good suit jacket or blazer should fall past the waist and drape over the top of your bottom’s curve, anything beyond this is a poor fit. The hands can be used as a guide, which is why it’s useful posing in a relaxed stance when trying on a suit. The hem of your jacket should stop around the middle of your hand – where the fingers meet the palm.
A good rule to follow when wearing a blazer with a shirt is to have half an inch of shirt visible at the wrist – although there is no need to be too obsessive with this rule. Ensuring the seam where the cuff joins the sleeve is not showing or the jacket sleeve isn’t completely hiding the shirt will be enough.
Well-fitting trousers should have a smooth drape over the shape of your bottom and lie loosely with your underwear without pulling tight around your bum or draping down your thighs. A bad fitting trouser can be identified by either wrinkles under your bum cheeks for a fit that’s too tight or a loose, or a U-shaped sag on the back of your thighs for a pair that are too big.
A trouser break is the small wrinkle that’s caused by your trouser cuff hitting the top of your shoe. This should only be one subtle wrinkle, so too many creases indicates trousers that are too long, while no wrinkles at all means you’ve got a pair that are a little on the short side.
Measuring your body
Checking your collar
If you’re buying a shirt to go with your new suit, you’ll need to measure your neck by placing the tape around the bottom of your neck – where your collar would normally be.
Measuring your chest size
To determine your chest size, you need to measure the widest part of your torso – this is just under your arms and across the chest. When you’re measuring, it’s important you don’t hold your breath as you could end up with a blazer that’s tighter than you intended. Also, it’s important to make sure the tape measure is snug and not tight around your body.
Determining your height
You need to measure your height to determine whether you should get a suit that is short, medium or long. This, together with your chest measurement, will tell you which suit will be best for you. For example, men under 5’7” with a chest measurement between 36 and 46 inches should opt for a short suit, while men between 5’7” and 5’11” will need a regular suit. Men who are six feet or taller will need to buy a long suit.
Measuring your sleeve length
Most suit jackets are fitted using your chest size and height, but it can be useful measuring your sleeve length if you have different proportions. To measure your sleeve length, run the tape from the shoulder to about two inches below the wrist.
Working out your waist size and seat
When you’re working out your waist size, you should first lean to the side to find your natural crease. You should then measure around your waist at this point, making sure to keep the tape comfortably loose by keeping two fingers between your body and the measuring tape. This will allow a little bit of extra breathing room when you sit down in your suit pants.
Finding the widest part of your hips, place the measuring tape around, again ensuring it isn’t too tight or loose.
Finding your leg length
To find your leg length, you’ll need to measure your inseam and outseam. To get the most accurate measurement, you should wear a fitted pair of pants to get the most accurate measurement and stand with your legs about a foot apart. You’ll also need to recruit somebody to help you with this measurement.
When measuring your inseam, you should start from the crotch and run the tape to the bottom of the shoe – this will ensure your pants won’t be too long or short. For your outseam, run the tape from your belt-line to the side of your foot when wearing shoes.
Once you’ve purchased a suit, you may find that you need to make slight adjustments to get that perfect fit. A professional tailor will be able to help you make alterations to any suit.