How to Find a Suit That Fits

by Jamie Wilson

Reviewed & updated: October 19, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

The average man spends forever and a day in changing rooms, trying suits on to find the perfect fit and look. Suits that fit properly are a necessary part of menswear, and however much you want to avoid it, you’re going to have to invest in a good suit at some point.

Unfortunately we don’t all have big budgets to blow on tailor fitted suits, and although a bit of simple altering can be achieved with your suit, we need to know exactly how one should fit before get to hemming and sewing. However when it comes down to it finding a suit that fits it isn’t as hard as it may seem, as long as you know what you’re looking for. It doesn’t matter your age or build, these tips are applicable for every guy trying to find the perfect fitting suit without the added stress.

how a suit should fit mens suits street style

How a Suit Should Fit

You don’t have to be a genius to know that suits have been around for a good long while. With their historic routes comes certain rules, although it’s better to call them guidelines. Although they can sometimes seem limiting, they can also really help you stay on track and avoid any easy style mistakes. When there are set rules on, for example, how long should a suit jacket be, you’re never going to wonder, “Is this right?”

Although there are different styles of suits, when it comes to the basics like sleeve length, how it should fit around the shoulder, the seat, and the fit around the torso, they all follow the same rules.

Suit Shoulder Fit

Suits can be altered after they are purchased, so it’s a general rule that if every other part of a suit fits well, you can compromise one or two minor features and they can be tweaked later. Having said that, the shoulders of a suit can never be alter properly, so make sure this is one part of the fit that you get right.

Suit fit Shoulder detail

A baggy or pinched shoulder seam in simple terms just looks bad. If you’re unable to move your arms without disrupting the whole shape of your suit, then your shoulders are probably too big or small for your suit jacket. As a rule of thumb, the shoulder seam that connects the torso to the sleeve should run across the top of your shoulder.

This sounds obvious, but too long or short, and the shoulder will bunch and wrinkle, and you’ll either end up with a lumpy hunch back looking suit, or a strained ‘I bought this when I was two sizes smaller’ look. Not exactly a look anyone wants to go for.

Suit Sleeve Length and Fit

You know what else looks bad? Sleeves that either drown out your digits or sit around your forearm. Don’t misunderstand here, three quarter length sleeves can look good, but on a T-shirts, not suits, and incorrect suit arm lengths are one of the first things people will notice. An easy way to make sure your sleeves are the right size is to follow this simple tip. When you’re standing with your arms by your side, the sleeves of the suit jacket should sit comfortably grazing the joint where your thumb meets your wrist. Easy.

Suit fit Sleeve detail

Yes, tailors exist, and you can actually get your clothes hemmed at most dry cleaners, so if your sleeves are a tad too long, just get them altered or grab yourself a needle and thread and try it yourself. However, adding material onto a suit isn’t the easiest thing to do, so if you find a suit that fits perfectly but has sleeves that are just a little too short, be strong and leave it for the shorter limbed man.

It’s not just the length of the sleeve that can be a problem though. The armholes of your suit jacket shouldn’t be cutting into your armpit, and although suits weren’t designed for high mobility sports, you should still be able to move around in one with relative ease. Get one that’s too tight and you risk straining the stitching around the armholes and splitting them, while one that’s too loose will just make the suit look baggy and badly made.

Suit Torso Fit

With people losing and gaining weight over the seasons it can be hard to get a suit that fits perfectly around the waist all the time. However if your suits too tight or loose then you’re never going to achieve a sophisticated look. On top of the fit, the length of the jacket is also pretty important, and these two factors need to be taken into consideration to achieve a sleek, finished look.

how a jacket should close

A basic suit jacket should skim over the groin, as falling any lower will drown out your figure, and any shorter will crop your figure and make you bottom heavy. The buttons of your suit should neatly meet in the middle of your torso with a small amount of room between your stomach and the jacket.

There should be no button strain (commonly referred to as the ‘Dreaded X’) or sagging of the lapels; the former means the suit jacket is too small and there is not enough material for the buttons to meet in the middle, whilst the latter means that the jacket is too big and there is room for it to be taken in.

Suit Seat Fit

The seat is basically the butt, the arse, the behind – but fancy tailors don’t want to use those words, so they found a different one to use instead. Whatever you choose to call it however, it’s important to get the fit right.

First things first, if you need a belt to keep your trousers up, then they don’t fit properly. Your trousers need to fit close enough to your waist to allow them to stay up on their own, but they need to be loose enough for a shirt to be tucked in them without tell tell bunching.

Suit fit Seat detail

When it comes to the ‘seat’ it all comes down to common sense. If it feels as though the material may split at the seams when bending over or sitting down then the trousers are far too small. If you can feel a bunch of sagging material then they are far too big. The seat of a trouser cannot be let out so be honest with yourself and buy a pair that feel the most comfortable without being too loose.

Suit Trouser Fit

In general a slim fit pair of trousers looks best with a suit, with a skinny fit design catered towards the more alternative suits out there. For a classic look you want your trousers to fit close enough that you can pinch around an inch of excess material when you’re wearing them. When it comes to the length of your trousers they should ideally brush against the top of your shoes, subtly showcasing your footwear without over exposing them.

Suit fit Trouser detail

The trouser break is the little crease of material that forms when your trouser leg meets your shoe. Strike the balance right; you want a slight crease at the trouser break; not a ripple effect caused by too much excess material and not an ankle swinger.

Best Slim Fit Suits

There’s a whole range of suits on the market right now, from high end designer numbers, to Primark basics. We want to offer you a nice in between, and although we don’t have a rigid belief on who makes the best suits, we do know quality and reasonable pricing when we see it. 

We also know that a good suit has to be versatile to be worth the money, and when it comes to versatility, colour is key. A bright blue number is going to look great on certain people, but it’s not the easiest thing to incorporate into an everyday formal look.

Black and navy are standard, and have the benefits of matching with most shirts, especially the classic white ones. Perfect for business trips, or just times when you want to look traditionally smart.

how to find a suit navy look

If that’s too dull for you, but you still need something fairly neutral, grey is a good option. It comes in a range of shades, so you can go for a light tone for a cooler, summer friendly vibe, or a dark tone for a more intense look.

how to wear a suit grey look

Your Quick Guide on How to Find a Suit That Fits

  • Regardless of the style suit you’re going for, follow the basic rules of fit to ensure a neat, tailored finish.
  • Long sleeves and trousers can be hemmed, but never buy a suit that’s even slightly too small.
  • The shoulders of your suit should slim over yours, and the seam connecting the torso to the arms should run across the top of your shoulder.
  • When you’re standing up with your arms by your sides, your suit sleeves should brush the joint where your thumb meets your wrist.
  • If your suit is creating an X mark across your torso when you button it up, then it’s too tight. If the lapels are sagging then it’s too loose.
  • If you’re using a belt to hold up your trousers, then they’re too loose.
  • You should be able to pinch an inch of fabric from your trousers when you’re wearing them. Any more and they’re too loose.

On that Note…

When it comes to finding a suit that fits perfectly, bear this simple guide and the basic dos and don’ts in mind. Remember, nothing too baggy or too tight, no ankle swingers or excess material anywhere that it needn’t be. Mostly it comes down to common sense, if you’re in any doubt then this is probably not the suit for you. Onto the next. Be honest with yourself and you’ll get there eventually, and when you do you’ll be glad you took the time out.

Feature image from Pinterest

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