Men's dress clothes should always be comfortable. If they are not, it is the fault of the clothes' fit, and not of their nature. If the fit of a garment makes its wearer uncomfortable, he will look it; indeed a man looks his best when his clothes fit so well he barely notices them. A man's clothes send a message to the world about him, and if they fit him well, he will always make a good impression.
Unfortunately most men today wear poorly fitting clothes; it's not their fault though, as that the clothing sold in stores is cut to fit as many people as possible. When buying a garment the retailer is often of little help, as that the department stores rarely have a salesman on staff that has a deep understanding of menswear. Thus as in so many things it falls to each man to take responsibility for the fit of his own clothes and not to be swayed by the prolific selection of poor choices or the dubious influence of models or salesmen.
Proper Fit - Men's Dress Shirt
A dress shirt's yoke or shoulders should cover a man's shoulders and nothing more; the shoulder point should not extend down his sleeves. As for the sleeves, you want a shirt with enough fabric so that when you rotate your arms and hold them out from your sides all of your arm remains covered; close fitting cuffs will help with this. You want anywhere from 3 to 6 inches of play in both your stomach and chest areas, and the shirt should be long enough so that when you bend over it doesn't un-tuck from the back or sides. Finally, the neck collar, when buttoned, should be tight enough to fit no more than two fingers in the space between collar and skin.
Proper Fit - Men's Suit Jacket
A jacket must fit correctly in the chest and shoulders, as that these are very difficult to alter and in some situations downright impossible to adjust. When you stand with your jacket buttoned and arms hanging at your sides, the jacket's lapels should lie flat against the front panels, the buttons should hang close to or rest lightly on your stomach, and your biceps should just barely break the drape of sleeve from shoulder. If you tug on the top button, you should have enough room to easily slide your hand in between your lapels and chest, but not enough room so you can slide in your fist. As for your stomach, you should not be able to see it pull more than 3 inches from your belly. Of course, all of this depends on the fit you feel comfortable with. Sleeve length should end at about the wrist, although the exact point is also a matter of taste. As for the relationship between the shirt and the jacket: The shirt's cuffs should protrude approximately ½ inch from the jacket's sleeves when you stand with arms hanging. The shirt's collar should protrude about ½ -1 inch above the jacket collar, with both of them slightly touching.
Proper Fit - Men's Trousers
Pants or trousers should be worn at the natural waist, near the navel. Young people with flat stomachs may choose to wear them lower but they gain little in doing so. The man with a belly, on the other hand, looks much better with high-rise trousers draping from his middle than with his stomach spilling over a low-rise waistband; for this he should consider suspenders. Trouser bottoms should touch the upper part of your the front of the shoes and should brush the top edge of the sole at the shoe back; a single break in the front is considered perfect by most, but shorter pant legs that just brush the tops of the shoes can look better on the shorter man. Shorter men tend to do better without cuffs on their trousers, but should they want them they should be in proportion to their stature.
How to get the perfect fit?
Off-the-rack clothing is designed for the hypothetical male model - for each brand, this person's dimensions change a bit, but unfortunately his measurements are never very close to yours. How does a man get a proper fit?
Find a good Tailor - A good tailor can do wonders for clothing that somewhat fits you. They can bring in waists, shorten sleeves, and open up room in the stomach after the holidays. The limit here is that they can often only alter an imperfect garment; in the end it is still imperfect.
Invest in Custom Clothing - Notice I use the term invest; this is because owning clothing that is made to compliment your features is a smart move for any man. The beauty of custom clothing is that it is designed with your measurements; by its very nature it will fit you better than anything else in your closet, and as a result will look better than anything you've ever worn.
It is a wonderful feeling to wear garments that fit you perfectly. One feels light and comfortable as the clothes seem to float around the body, neither heavy nor tight anywhere but rather resting evenly throughout. A man in clothing that fits him is confident in his appearance and free to focus on the task at hand.
To read more articles on men's fashion, go to http://www.atailoredsuit.com and visit the style guide.
Antonio Centeno is president of A Tailored Suit, an online American boutique fine-clothing merchant specializing in bespoke men's suits, shirts, jackets, and overcoats. The company's mission is to help men create the clothing that best enhances their individual style. Antonio has studied men's clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok, and he is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College.
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