How To Find The Right Fit For Your Clothes

How To Find The Right Fit For Your Clothes

It seems as though there is an outbreak of a certain disease among men entitled, “The Bad Fit Disease”.  It is squalid, and it is curable.  The symptoms of this nuisance involves men who wear their pieces 2 to sometimes even 4 times their size, or wear their wardrobe 2 times too small for their body.  Their suits somehow turn out to look like boxes on their frames, and their pants are either cuffed way too high (as a result of how long they are) or drag to the ground.  The side effects of this epidemic include low self-esteem, a disheveled presentation, and for some…destruction of what was once a great piece.

The cure?  Simply knowledge of how best to dress to your frame.  Regardless of your sterling personality, MBA, or fat bank account, when your clothes don’t fit your body, be it too large or too small, everything suffers.  And unfortunately, this is a common epidemic among men.  As we feel that it is our civic and moral duty, we will guide you through the journey of getting cleaned up once and for all…bad fit disease be gone!

the causes

We start this journey with examining two of the main causes of this disease that has taken so many men’s style by force.  For many men, they are unaware of what actually constitutes as “fitting” to their own body sizes.  Simply put: many men simply can’t judge what fit means to them.  They have been trained to think that they should be a certain size (usually a Large, Extra Large and for some, Extra-Extra Large).  But in reality, they are really 2 sizes down from what they think they should wear.  Perhaps some even go as far to think that as a “real” man, clothes should fit a certain manner or should fit like the clothes they see in music videos and celebrities.  And while that is their every right to have this ideology, everyone is built different.  What may fit me, may not necessarily fit you.  And to further this point, we could even have the same built and height.  However, a size 36 suit could fit like a glove on my body, yet yours leaves you feeling slightly constrained or with sleeves that are too long.  Again, we shall reiterate: every man is built different.

There is also another factor in this epidemic.  While having men be more aware of the simple rule that not everyone is made the same is a great start, there remains a practice among men to purchase right off the rack and not get their pieces tailored.  And this is where we cue in the tailors of the world.  It still amazes us to this day that men who value their appearance are intimidated by tailors, or at least hesitant to approach one.  When it comes down to it: a good tailor is every respectable man’s best friend.  A good tailor can make your clothes fit in a way that changes how you view your wardrobe. Imagine a closet filled with shirts, jackets, and pants that you know will fit just right.  Each piece will always work, always fit.  It can change your entire outlook on dressing for the day as you become confident of the way you look.  One of the easiest ways to begin cleaning up is to start with items that you already own but have issues with: the shirt with sleeves that are too long or pants that never fit quite right.  And while you may not want to spend the extra money on clothes you already own, the result will make all the difference in the world.  You’d be surprised by what tapering an inch off of a suit jacket’s sleeves could do to your overall appearance.

So what other factors should men keep in mind when it comes to making sure their clothes fit?  First and foremost, be aware of how your clothes feel when you put them on.  This is a good indicator of whether it is a good fit.  If you sense that the arms of the piece is too tight, perhaps you do require a size up.  It is essentially up to you to decide what fits you, and what doesn’t.  You are the one wearing it.  With that said, here are a couple general guidelines to be conscious of the next time you shop:


This is one of the most common areas of menswear that men get tangled up with.  Men either buy pants too big (in the waist), or they wear them too long (in length).  This unfortunately creates one of two problems: men end up looking like a slob (especially in a suit), or they tend to look like a dwarf (if they are shorter in height).  And not to mention, when the bottoms aren’t appropriate to your body, it is the most unflattering look.  To begin, pants should not be tight around your waist and they should stay put without a belt.  You should never have to struggle with a button or zipper and there should be no pulling across the front of your pants.  This is the first indication that the pants do not properly fit.  Another test is your front pockets; they should always lay flat and closed and not flare open.  If they do, they are too tight.

Most suit pants should have a slight to medium break when the bottom meets the shoe, no more than one inch.  Your tailor will be able to guide you through this.  As a general rule, your socks should remain mostly hidden when you walk down the street, so a higher break is ideal as long as you don’t look like Steve Urkel (unless that is the look you were going for).  When standing still, you want your legs to remain proportional to the upper half of your body and the visual weight of a breaking cuff usually suffices.  With cuffs, they are most appropriate with lighter fabrics, to help weigh down the leg, and when you want a defined end to your leg.  Cuffed pants also tend to work best with pants that have wider leg openings.  Pants with narrower legs tend to look better without cuffs.

It is rare to find bottoms off the rack that will fit you perfectly.  Thus, you should always buy with the intention of taking the piece to a tailor, even if  it is just a minute alteration.


For many, a button-down dress shirt appears to be a simple piece to choose and determine if it’s a good fit.  There’s a mentality of, “if the collar fits the neck, then it’s the right size.”  And while that’s partly the truth, many do not take into consideration of the sleeve length or even the width of the body of the shirt.  If the shirt is not the right size, what ends up happening is that when it is tucked in, the sides are sagging and the back tends to balloon out.  Your 15 size collar may be perfect, but 98% of the shirt is draping your body.  To avoid this dilemma, always remember when buttoning a dress shirt, there should be just enough room in the collar for you to slip you index finger in and comfortably move it around.  Ideally, it shouldn’t be tight to the point where you turn blue and pass out.  The body of the shirt should have room that allows for movement but not so much that it billows out after five minutes.  Slimmer styles have been popping up in countless shows now for the past few seasons.  Many men find that they are more comfortable and allow for a fit under a slimmer suit blazer.

A shirt should just be skimming your body, not billow out.

suit jacket

A suit jacket (or a blazer) for some is one of those comfort pieces that somehow hides any unwanted body fat or lack of for that matter.  It is one of the most vital staples in a man’s closet as it is one of the pieces that will give you a silhouette and some shape to your body.  Yet, many men tend to have a tendency of wearing a size or two too large, which defies the purpose of the suit jacket.  The result of this ends up making the individual look like a box.  And in the case of thinner men, it just looks like you stole it from your father’s closet.  To avoid this look, the shoulders should feel snug but the line of your own shoulder should not be visible under the fabric.  Your jacket’s collar should stay firmly in place against your shirt’s collar and not pull away or ride up.

Another misjudgment that some may make is to wear a jacket that is smaller than their size.  The jacket sleeve rides up, and your entire shirt sleeve is shown.  Generally, your shirt sleeve should see about a quarter to a half-inch from the jacket sleeve.  Any more and it looks like you’re wearing your dad’s shirts.

The “shrunken jacket” trend has been increasingly hitting the runways for a couple seasons now, and for many it’s a challenge to discern what a proper body fit entails.  Realistically speaking, you should be able to easily button your jacket and when you let your arms drop, the cuff of your jacket should line up with your knuckles.  You jacket’s rear vents should not pull; if they do, take it to you tailor have him let it out a bit.  And as we have mentioned many a time, never be fearful of taking it to a tailor for alterations.  We cannot stress this enough.  There are many instances when the back of the jacket might need to be taken in (to take out the excess fabric from the back), or the sleeves require to be shortened.  It is a normal occurrence and you will be happy that you did.

the sizing equation

For most, finding one’s size is as perplexing as quantum physics.  But in reality, it is quite simple, and not to mention, vital for every man to at least have a basic knowledge of their body and fit.  Without knowing your size is like not knowing what you are allergic to.  It makes life (and shopping) that much smoother.  As a general rule, a man’s measurement is the same as his size.  Where small, medium, large, etc. are concerned, the best way to ensure proper fit is to know your measurements.  When shopping online, always check the brand’s/store’s own sizing charts (as each company is different in sizing) and fit tips.

To start: you’ll need a clothe tape measure and a full-length mirror.  For best results take body measurements undressed or in lightweight clothing.  Keep your arms at your side and have a friend take the measurements.  When measuring, keep the tape measure snug, but not tight.  And make sure you stand up straight.

Neck Size:

Measure around the base of the neck.

Easier method: Take a shirt that fits great and measure from the center of the button to the far end of the button hole.  Inches = Size (If it’s 17 1/2 inches, you’re a 17 1/2 neck).  Round up.  For example, if you measure 17 1/4, round up to 17 1/2.


Bend your elbow and put your hand on your hip. Have someone measure from middle of back of your neck, around shoulder and elbow to wrist bone.

Easier method: Take a shirt that fits and fold at the elbow 90 degrees and measure from middle back of collar to cuff.


Take measurements under armpits, around fullest part of chest and shoulder blades.


Measure around where you normally wear your pants, keeping the tape measure a bit loose or putting one finger between your body and the tape measure.


You’ll need a friend to measure from your crotch to where you want your pants to end, breaking at the top of the shoe in the front and just above the heel in the back (you’ll need to be wearing shoes for this one).

Easier method: Find a pair of good fitting pants, and measure from crotch seam to bottom of pants.


They say a picture is worth 1000 words.  So, after all we wrote, we give you visual comparisons of the bad fit disease, to cured patients.

via Kinowear

Bad Fit Disease:

Always make sure you get your REAL size when it comes to your pants. Most guys wear their pants way too big.  Make sure the rise is as close to your crotch without cutting off circulation to you family jewels.  The key is to make sure it almost hugs your backside.  For those of you who don’t have much of a behind, having a baggier fit just makes it look even more like you don’t have anything there.


Your jeans don’t have to be skin tight, but there shouldn’t be too much extra fabric around your thighs or at your feet.  Stick 2 fingers in between the pants waistline and your hip (perpendicularly) to check if you’re wearing the right size.  You shouldn’t be able to fit in more fingers than that.

Bad Fit Disease:

Baggy arms, sagging sides, ballooning back – just too much excess fabric.  Most guys wear their shirts like this and think it’s a pretty good fit.  Just because a shirt may fit your neck doesn’t mean it fits the rest of your body.


This shirt fits his torso, not just his neck.  The shirt should be neither too loose nor too tight.  It should be just skimming your body.  Less excess fabric means that it stays tucked in better and there isn’t any bunching around your midsection.

related links

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How To Care For Your Jeans

How To Spot A Designer Fake

How To Smell Better

How To Look Luxury Without Paying Luxury Prices

How To Tie A Tie

How To Accessorize Your Suit

How To Adhere To Dress Code

How To Find The Perfect Suit

How to Maintain Your Dress Shoes

How to Shave Properly (and avoid those annoying bumps!)

How to Rock a Bowtie.