The Basics of Fit for Men’s Suiting

{menswer fit guide 101}

Now that you have had an introduction to me and hopefully picked a fashion icon, it’s time to dive into the specifics of menswear.  This week we are gong to break things down to a more technical level.

Admittedly, I hemmed and hawed about where we should start for quite a while, but I decided that we should start with the suit.  The modern men’s suit is the quintessential male ensemble of our era.

I can hear some of you groaning from across the internet asking: how is this advice going to be any different than what we already know?  My response: it is my goal in the coming weeks to not only illuminate the what – i.e. what types of suits you should be wearing – but also the why.  A lot of blogs spew rules and recommendations at you without explaining where they came from and why they are important.

The month of February (and maybe some of March) is going to be devoted to FIT.

I choose fit as a jumping off point because fit really is everything.  A cheap suit can look like a million buck if it fits correctly, just as a very expensive suit can look like crap if it doesn’t fit correctly.

First, let’s start by introducing you to two terms used in the clothing industry that are at the center of all fitting issues:

Drag lines: often horizontal lines and folds that form when fabric is being pulled too tight.  This typically happens when a garment is too small, but can also be an indicator of some more serious fit issues beyond size.

Drag Lines

At first glance the suits in the above picture look pretty good, but when you take a closer look you see all the horizontal lines forming across the chests, waists and hips of these gentlemen.  These suits are too tight, causing drag lines to form across their bodies.  It’s important to understand that when a suit is too small, the wearer looks much larger than they actually are.

Most modern clothes are not made to be let out, especially a suit jacket.  So, if you see a lot of drag lines when you try on a suit, move along to a different option.  Try changing the size, cut, or brand of the suit.

Wrinkles: Wrinkles form anytime you have excess fabric.  They are the opposite problem of drag lines.  Instead of having too little fabric, you have too much fabric.  One very easy place to think about wrinkles is at the bottom of your pants before they are hemmed.

Dwayne Wade

As you can see above, there is an excess of fabric that puddles on the shoe and creates wrinkles.  The wrinkles are showing that there is extra fabric that needs to be removed before the pants fit correctly.  (Of course there is a lot more to say about how pants should be hemmed…coming soon!)  The issue of wrinkles can also apply to suit jackets, but these problems are much more subtle.

Most clothes can be altered to be smaller, but there are limits.  A good tailor can deal with a few wrinkles, but if you are seeing lots of wrinkles move on to another option.  Try a size smaller size, different cut, or different brand.

To sum this up these two important terms:

Drag lines are often indicative of a garment being too small…go look for one size up or a different cut.

Wrinkles are indicative of a garment being too big…go look for one size down, a different cut or different brand.

Familiarizing yourself with these two terms will help you see not only that your suit is not fitting properly, but also why your suit is not fitting.  Learning to identify grad lines and wrinkles will lead you to a properly-fitting suit.

During my next installment, we will be getting into more specifics about what to look for in a well-fitting suit and what your tailor can and can’t do to help.

Let me know if there are any topics or fashion questions that you would like addressed in the future in the comments below.



[photos courtesy of and telegraph UK]

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  1. A Guide to Men’s Suiting Cuts and Lengths - House of Marbury - February 19, 2014

    […] already covered the basics of men’s suiting.  The next step in achieving a properly-fitting suit is to understand your body type.  (I know […]

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