• Lydia Chu

Men's Suit- Buying the Right Fit

Buying the right size means you're going to look better and save money on alterations.

Over the years, I had many clients of all ages bring their suits in for alterations. A lot of times, I would notice the suits fitting very poorly, and this is often due to people buying the wrong sizes. Since most of us never had any proper training, we often don’t have any idea what to look for when buying a suit. Usually, the only help we get is from the salesperson at the store who, unfortunately, knows as little as we do.


Before purchasing a suit, you need to know at least four things, your height, chest size, waist measurement and your inseam. For Jacket size, measure the circumference of your chest. If your chest size is 40 and your 6’ tall, your jacket size is going to be 40R. The letter “R” (Regular) after the number 40 is very critical when choosing the right size. Whether you are short (S), regular (R), long (L) or extra long (XL) is determined by your height.

5' 9" & under = Short (S)

5'10" - 6'1" = Regular (R)

6'2" - 6'4" = Long (L)

Over 6' 5" = Extra Long (XL)

Keep in mind that just because your jacket size is 40R, it doesn’t mean you can only buy that size. It’s a good idea to try on a size smaller or bigger depending on your built and the style of the suit you want. If you have broad shoulders and tend to be smaller in the waist, then you would definitely need to go for a slimmer cut versus modern or traditional fit. A lot of my clients who think they are not slim tend to shy away from slim cuts thinking that slim cuts are only for a thin person. Generally, that is not the case. Slim cuts come in many different sizes, typically from 34 – 50. So, even if you are not a slim person but has proportionately a smaller waist compared to your chest, then you want to opt for a slimmer cut. Otherwise, you're going to end up with a suit that's to be too big in the stomach area. Now, if you are a person who’s bigger in the stomach area and tends to have a bigger waist measurement proportional to your chest size, then you want to go with a modern or traditional fit to accommodate the bigger waist area. So, generally, the suit style will depend more on your body proportion than your body size.

Another reason why choosing the right size as in S, R, L and XL is critical is because this will determine how long the jacket and sleeves are going to be. Sleeves on a jacket can be modified but when the buttons are functional, it can create a problem and can cost a significant amount of money to a make the adjustment. Adjusting the length of the jacket can be even more of a problem. Typically, you want the length of the jacket to end at the end of your seat but when a jacket is too short, it’s not possible to lengthen. When the jacket is too long, shortening is possible but when it's more than an inch, it becomes a problem since the pockets on the jacket can't be moved to accommodate the shortening of the length. Therefore, the whole jacket is going to look out of proportion.

Now, what is wrong with the jacket being too short or long? Well, when the jacket is too short, it makes you look like you’re wearing someone else’s clothes. Trust me, it does not look good. On the other hand, when the jacket is too long, it makes you look like you have a longer torso and shorter legs. The goal is to have a look that is going to make you look taller and slimmer by elongating your legs.


For someone with the chest size of 40”, waist size would typically be 6” drop which means the waist size would most likely be 34”. Now, measure your inseam. This would be the measurement from your crotch area down to the bottom of your leg. This will determine the length of the pants.

Be sure to try them on if you can. A lot of times, the sizing on the pants are not very accurate. The labels might say they’re 40”, but in reality, they might be 1” – 3” bigger! If you don’t believe me, try measuring a pair of pants you currently have. You’ll be surprised. When choosing the right size pants, try going down a size. For example, if your actual waist size is 34”, choose a pair that is one size smaller. Usually, they fit much better, and if the waist end up being a little too tight, they can easily be let out for very little cost.

Another reason why you should buy a smaller size is because the leg openings on the pants get bigger as the waist size increases. This means that if you buy a bigger waist size, you’ll end up with a pants that’s going to be looser in the legs as well. If your goal is to look slimmer and taller (and who doesn’t), then it’s a good idea to buy pants that are more tapered in the legs. It’s way more cost effective to let the waist out than trying to taper the legs. So, the key is to find a suit that’s going to fit you the closest to minimize the cost of alterations.


Once you get to the store, try on different brands. Even if they might be the same size, they’re all going to fit differently so it’s important to try at least 2 or 3 different brands and styles. When choosing a size, try on the size that you think you are and then, if you prefer the slimmer fit, try on the smaller size. It’s my experience over the years that whenever I shop for my clients, I find that one size down often seems to fit better. Be sure to put an emphasis on the shoulders. This is the most important part of the suit that needs to fit properly. It’s very expensive to fix the shoulders if it’s too big and not fixable at all if it’s too small. No matter how expensive your suits is, if it doesn’t fit properly, it’s not going to look good.

If you’re used to wearing loose-fitting clothes all your life, then wearing a proper fitting clothes like a suit might feel a little restricted at first, but once you get used to it, it’s hard to go back to wearing baggy clothes. Wearing the right fitting clothes is not just about looking good but more importantly, it’s about how you feel about yourself and the confidence that comes along with it. Let’s face it, whether you're going on a date or to a job interview, first impression can make a huge difference.



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