How a Suit Jacket Should Fit

Posted: Jun 02 2018

Fit is the foremost concern when buying a suit - No man wants to wear a suit which makes him look like a teenager who has borrowed it from his dad.

A well fitting suits job is accentuate a mans better attributes and hide his failings.

“Good tailors are not after fit, but effect. And effect means proportion. The idea is to help your figure, not to reproduce it.” - G. Bruce Boyer.

In this article, we break down the key elements you need to consider because while a man decides his style, a man who knows style, knows what he must get right before all else.

Shoulders & Chest

The first thing you need to know is that if your jacket doesn’t fit on the chest and shoulders, it doesn’t fit and never will. If the shoulders are too narrow, they cannot be widened; the sleeve should begin where your shoulders end. Similarly, a too-tight chest is impossible for a tailor to fix - the charity shop beckons.

The chest and shoulders should be wide enough to be comfortable to move in and for the sleeves to fall without breaking across the upper sleeve – however not so wide as to make your head appear small.

Lapel Notch Height

Notch placement is another permanent feature that cannot be changed. Generally, tt should sit high enough on the chest to produce as long an upward sweeping line as possible, however not so high as to make the coat appear as if it is pulling backwards. However, the width of the lapel will affect this to a degree, with a narrower lapel often having a higher notch.

Waist Button

The wait button affects the shape of your body. It creates the dividing line between the jacket’s upper and lower sections and needs to be placed to gives a balance like scales. Too high and it shortens the torso; too low, and it lowers the waist, throwing off the balance between the jacket’s top and bottom. Again, there is no fix if it sits too high.


“It should hug the neck when the head turns, yet leave 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of shirt collar showing.” Beware so-called ‘prole gap’, where a jacket sits away from the shirt collar, a deadly menswear sin (observable in almost every suit worn by Leonardo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby).

Jacket Arm

Often the element which draws an untrained eye is the sleeve length. Beware not to buy a jacket which fits perfectly here at the expense of other areas and sleeve length is one area which can be adjusted - although alteration at the shoulder can be expensive.  

The sleeve length should show 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch of shirt sleeve and be tapered enough so it does not bellow around the shirt cuff - consider what sort of cuffed shirt you will be wearing as a double cuff requires a wider opening than a single.

Jacket Length

Finally, the jacket length. Traditionally, jackets must be long enough to cover the buttocks completely but short enough to give as long a leg line as possible. However, modern tailoring currently see a shorter length revealing a quarter to half the ass - but be careful, you don’t to show all or be a complete ass.

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