Suits 101: 4 Things You Should Know to Look Exceptional in Any Suit

Image: Brooks Brothers website
At some point in your life, you will need to navigate the world of suits to buy at least one that is good for work and more. To help make your search for a suitable suit go well when the time comes, let’s discuss the basics—fit, quality, style, and color. Those are what we call the four characteristics of a suit. Once you have a better concept of them, the suit world will magically become demystified. This is a two-part guide; part one focuses on fit since it’s crucial.


Fit is the way something conforms to the shape of your body. In a sense, it is measured by how a garment hits your body in all the right places and feels comfortable while looking nice on you. A proper fitting suit can take you a long way, thus making it very, very important. If an item doesn’t fit properly, then most likely you won’t feel confident when wearing it. And suits are commanding! They are sophisticated, casual, captivating, and sleek.

In general, there are things to look for when determining the proper fit of a suit. However, keep in mind that fit varies by style. Here are further details to know about fit and simple ways to test for it.


Sleeves: The shoulder seam of a suit jacket (where the sleeve is set) should fall slightly off the top of your shoulder to just before the rounded part. That placement allows for free arm movement. If the shoulder seam falls before, or higher up on your shoulder, then the jacket will be tight and restrictive in the arm area.
Movement test: With the jacket on, hold your arms out wide then cross them high in front of you. Almost like you are hugging yourself but make your arms boxed. If you feel like something is pulling or tight, then try a larger size.
Body: The jacket buttons should not show any signs of tension or pull when buttoned up. That is a sign of ill-fit, in this case, the jacket is too small. Also, the jacket lapels when buttoned make a V-shape. This V-shape should not be too wide. That is another sign the jacket is too small.
Size test: Button up the jacket then look at it from the back in a mirror. If there is a lot of room in the back, then the suit is too big. If your back is bulging, then the suit is too small.


For pants, fit is focused in the waist, hips, and crotch areas. The fit in those areas should be more relaxed this is where tension shows. If this area is too tight, it will also be highly uncomfortable. Your Waist is probably the trickiest because most people have a slimmer waist. So, pants can fit in the other areas but your waistband can be too big. A simple fix is to have the waist taken in by a tailor or use a belt.
Comfort test: Try sitting down in the pants before purchasing to see how it feels in those areas. If it’s tight, go up a size.
Leg Length: Very long pants will drag on the ground and get holes over time. To prevent against this, make sure your pants stop at least 2-3 inches above the ground with heels on. Two to three inches is suggested because weight fluctuates and this provides some wiggle room. (weight loss = longer length/weight gain = shorter length)
Length test: Walk around in a pair of heels with the pants on. If they drag on the floor, then get them hemmed.