Video: How a jacket should fit

Monday, March 9th 2020
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This is the first in a series of three videos in which I look at how a jacket should fit.

In this first one, we cover the basics around the jacket - front, back and side. It's a useful summary of the main points, and applies as much to a high-street ready-made suit as to a bespoke one.

In all three, Charlie from Henry Poole kindly agreed to be our guinea pig, allowing me to point our various aspects of fit on his suit. Helpfully, his suit is also in SpringRam cloth from Harrison's, who sponsored this mini-series.

All the other tailoring in the background of the video is also by Henry Poole, using Harrison's cloth.

 

 

In summary in the video, we cover:

  • The shoulders, which should end around the point of your shoulder bone. They can be bigger or smaller, depending on style, as long as that doesn't mean the end is falling away, or the sleeve pulling
  • The front should be clean on both sides, not one side higher or lower than the other, which would cause one side to buckle
  • The armhole should be high, as it allows your arms to move more easily, but not so high that you push down on the cloth and causing it to fold
  • There should be no pulling at the waist, most clearly seen by wrinkles running outwards from the waist button
  • The collar should sit cleanly on the back of the neck: not sitting away from the shirt, but also not too right, which can cause a wrinkle below the collar as the neck pushes down on it
  • The sleeve pitch should be angled correctly, so there are no wrinkles, and the sleeve is cleaner if move your arm forward or back
  • Sleeve length is a matter of preference, but you would usually show a quarter to a half an inch of shirt cuff
  • The vents should be closed, not showing any gap. (And please, if there are basting stitches, take them out. And tell other people!)
  • The back should be relatively clean, though there should usually be a little excess below the armhole, otherwise you won’t be able to raise your arms. (This will be covered in an upcoming video in the series, looking at fit and comfort.)
  • And lastly length - partly a matter of style, and we’ll also look at this in more detail in an upcoming video - but covering the seat (the bottom) is a good place to start

Other practical videos we've produced are (also all on the YouTube channel):

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Anonymous

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Robin

Love this.
Your videos just keep getting better and better .

Just afew points on this video …..

Some of the points you mention would be better demonstrated by how they actually look when wrong or slightly wrong .
Certainly things like sleeve length, sleeve pitch and shoulders ….. something which I find is very difficult to judge yourself and often requires an informed observer to look out for .

My general rule of thumb is a clean look from the back.

Also, any RTW brands you know of that do high arm hole ?

Robin

In which case is it , a high armhole, possible through MTM or only through bespoke ?

Gsk

I think ring jacket does a high armhole in their ready to wear- the armoury products certainly do

Jay 2

Simon, thanks for the great video.
Perhaps a piece on the armhole alone is in order? I think it would be incredibly helpful to show this as one of the most beneficial aspects of going bespoke and better MTM services!

Chancellor

Agree that seeing examples of bad fit would be most helpful, and perhaps something for a future video. Could be as simple as picking up a couple of high street jackets for your model, and seeing what’s off (and what could be adjusted).

Also in your fifth bullet you’ve used “right” when you likely meant “tight”.

Chancellor

I’d forgotten about that article–yes, that’s a good example of illustrating sub-optimal fit. Not awful fit which hopefully readers of this blog can already spot; but more subtle fit issues.

Hugh

I second Robin’s suggestion of showing both what good fit does and does not look like. Especially with the 3D nature of bespoke, I find it incredibly useful to see Simon in motion to demonstrate the benefit of good fit, but I can see how it could be hard to do the same with poor fit

Evan Everhart

Good Morning Simon,

Thank you for the wonderful good morning via this article! I am at work, and hence, unable to watch the video as of yet, but will do on my lunch.

I have however already greatly enjoyed the written portion, as always, and the visual treat of the lovely clothes in the background, and the impeccably tailored suits as worn by both of you. Please convey my regards to Charlie upon his perfectly tailored suit. I am a humongous fan of DB suits, and that fabric is quite perfect. Will you also be addressing the correct fit of trousers in conjunction with the rest of the suit? I know that it has been addressed in other blogs previously, but I would appreciate yr precise and poignant dissection of the issue and it is of course a relatively pressing point as so very many trousers do not fit correctly, or drape incorrectly based upon variations on the angle and diameter of the respective gentleman’s hips and seat and furthermore, the cut of the trousers themselves, whether roomy, or trim, or high or low rise, or even the angle of the upper side of the rear seat, or breadth of trouser leg, or wearer’s leg, and of course the issue of pleated or flat, and how well cut the pleats are if they are there. So many variables! I suppose if a man is to rely upon a good alterations tailor, that is simple enough, and if he also knows what should and should not be there, but perhaps and I think that this may be so, a sign post in the right direction might be both useful and appreciated.

Have a wonderful day, Sir! 🙂

Oh! Have you considered doing an article on the Mackinaw/Mackinac style coat? They are quite classic and stylish, and I have been seeing ever more coats inspired by them or simply vintage ones in recent years. I have a few but not a true classically styled one with a shawl collar, vertical hand warmer pockets, hip patch and flap pockets possibly with hand warmers, and a belt in a DB model, granted, the classic model is rather dated looking, but it is a classic in functionality as a cross over garment from smart to rugged, if made up in an appropriate fabric. Anyhow, I think it would be interesting, particularly with yr most recent line of articles and perspective, exploring more of the transitional and sportif.

Talk later! 🙂

Evan Everhart

Hahaa! Laconic, but sure. It would be interesting though.

Evan Everhart

Hi Simon,

I was just pondering this, and I’m not sure if you’ve considered it, but the Mackinac coat is essentially a landsman’s Peacoat, with added hip pockets. Some have a back belt, some do not, some have shawl collars, some do not, some (most) are double breasted, a few are not, but they are all basically made up in very heavy blanket weight woolen type fabric and typically with hand warmer pockets. Food for thought. Of course, there is much greater latitude in what colors and even wild patterns are considered classical and acceptable in a Mackinac, and the predilection for belted models.

David G

Interesting observations, but the one you haven’t made is that the suit in question doesn’t seem to fit very well.

Forget what is “fashionable” for a moment; the jacket is too short. This means there is no snap in the waist, leading to a lack of shape to it. This is even more apparent when viewed from the side.

It probably needs an extra 1.5cm, maybe 2.0, which would allow the waist snap and a slight flare in the skirt. This would deal with the straight up and down it currently has.

Is it really a bespoke garment Simon?

Evan Everhart

Love Frasier! Somehow I am not at all surprised that you watch it! Some of the suits and coats on that show are indeed ridiculously long and voluminous! C’est l’90s/00s. I preferred his suits and coats on Cheers, but it was an altogether inferior show, though it did give birth to Frasier….I have no major complaints! Hahahaa!

Dan

Frasier, quality clothes and a totally incongruous love of heavy metal… we have a strange amount in common.

In all seriousness though, it’s interesting to watch those early Frasier episodes and look back at what was considered to be stylish at the time; particularly as they made such a big thing about how much money Frasier and Niles spent on clothes etc. I’ve just looked up a quote from the episode where Niles takes delivery of some new shoes, which will no doubt resonate…

Niles: Aren’t they exquisite? Those shoes were individually handmade by an artisan toiling in a hilltop village above Florence. The man is a hero there. It’s an event when he completes a pair of shoes. They ring the cathedral bell and the whole town celebrates.

Roz: Now there’s a town that needs a bowling alley…

Anonymous

There’s always going to be an element of caricature in the wardrobe. I’d be surprised if the show’s creators didn’t amp up the fustiness of the clothing to fit the Cranes’ haughtiness in all things. That’s not to say that the show isn’t emblematic of the general style of the time, just that it’s probably on the extreme end of things. I don’t recall people wearing the sorts of ludicrously oversized clothing the male cast of Friends was dressed in during the early days of that show, but you’d think it was all the rage if you watched that and countless other mid-90s sitcoms and teen dramas.

Anonymous

I am not a fan of short jackets, but this one looks to be a perfect length – it covers the backside without being so long as to swallow the legs. The only thing I might have changed might have been to extend the shoulders a tad – as it is they look a little puny compared to those majestic lapels!

Daniel Ippolito

The previous comment was mine – I forgot to attach my name. I like to “own” my comments, so this was a slipup.

Anonymous

David G is wrong about the length (it’s too long if anything), but right that Charlie’s suit lacks shape and, for me, looks boring.

It’s interesting to compare Charlie’s jacket with those of the two jackets on the tailor’s dummies to the left in the background. These have clearly been cut much shorter and the waists are much trimmer. Are those Henry Poole jackets as well?

I’m very much looking forward to your video on jacket length, Simon.

Frank Shattuck

David, you are confusing fit with style. This suit fits him very well. Length, flair. , overlap, lapels … style.

David G

Thanks Simon, although I am sorry but you really have lost me now.

How can skirt have an angle? And the “snap” has nothing to do with the position of the waist; it is about the way the sides of the jacket, when seen from there front, curve into the waist, under the mid arm, creating a more fitted silhouette.

Look at the shape of the jackets on the dummies, then the one being worn. The dummy will always exaggerate the snap, but it also demonstrates how it can look.

Regards

Tony

Simon, a polite question.

Why are you always so quick to dismiss comments from guests who appear to challenge you? I thought David’s comments about the waist and skirt suggested an experienced eye, yet you seem to undermine his view.

Most of your guests just wildly agree with you; the debate and discuss elements of this blog are of much more interest and value in my view. Saying how lovely your jacket is doesn’t add much value does it?

Peter

Not sure if possible, but you always comment on how hard it is to judge the fit from stand still pictures. Now you have the chance to showcase how great a bespoke jacket can be compared to rtw in the way it moves. Great video. Looking forward to see more.

Gabe

Excellent idea, Peter!

Fatih

Great educational video again and as always presented in a very pleasant style. Are you going to cover proper lapel fit particularly how to avoid nasty breaks on chest level in the lapel flow downwards caused by a prominent/athletic chest. Even Lorenzo didn’t get that right in my last suit.

David G

Thanks Simon

It’s good to be able to exchange ideas and expand a bit on what one’s personal preferences steer us towards. What looks good on some evidently won’t look good on others, and whilst you bring out a number of valuable principles here, (shoulder, neck, pitch etc) the end result of this suit is not something I would have thanked my tailor of 30 years for.

I think the tricky bit here is that these valuable principles don’t recognise proportion; maybe that will come at a later stage.

All the best.

Andrew

Many thanks Simon.

The cut of the jacket is very interesting when compare to the one you had done by Henry Poole. It seems to me this one has a slightly wider lapel with a bit more belly and a lower gorge? Have Henry Poole adapted their house style or is that quite a lot of flexibility in it?
Do you think you could discuss these style variations at some point in a later video?

Matt

Sorry if I’ve missed this above, Simon, but which of your jackets are you wearing in the video? A lovely cloth.

Matt

Brill – thanks!

Daniel Ippolito

The Donegal tweed jacket looks even better in motion!

Anon

Hi Simon,

What shirt and tie are you wearing with it? It does seem to smarten up nicely.

Jason

I recently had a MTM adventure with Anglo-Italian and all in all, it went well.
My normal tailor is A&S and if it was something I was going to wear regularly, I’d have gone there.
In this instance I required a births, deaths and marriages suit and couldn’t justify A&S with my £ per wear criteria.
A-M did a good job. I took a charcoal grey in a 3 seasons weight. The cut is good and the only thing I really notice vis a vis bespoke is the armhole height.
Something which will be forever an issue with MTM.
The service was excellent. All in all a great option for the more frugal flaneur.

Alexander

I think we all agree that fashion trends have made jackets way too tight overall when looking at the high street brands. This tightness has also certainly been overdone around the waist. But nonetheless I think it is very important from a style point of view, that there is a certain amount of tension in the waist which can result in some wrinkling. And I personally dont care for straight clean lines at the waist. Many well dressed man have a certain amount of wrinkling on most of their jackets when they are buttoned (Luca Rubinacci, Lapo Elkann..). I consider this sharp, close to the body cut in this area especially important for a double breasted jacket to look sharp and not boxy. This is way more important than the absence of wrinkling.

Oliver

Another great video Simon.

Will you be doing a similar one on how a shoe should fit?

Frank Shattuck

It’s a nicely fitted coat.
Spring Ram is good cloth.

Antonio

Hi Simon, nothing to do with the topic of this post but would highly appreciate if you could help. Was thinking in having made a 13.5oz double breasted suit from the City of London Holland and Sherry bunch. What do you think? would it be too heavy? Could you point me to other heavier cloths that I could wear all year round without being too much? Thanks in advance for your help.

hugh

Simon,

What about the book your charcoal Ciardi was from?

Triskel

The reason why the overall appearance of this coat, despite all the technically good points, is not wonderful is, it seems to me, the double breasted style. For some reason this is a style which, however skilled the tailor, never seems to work well on thin people. Any views?

Anonymous

Triskel

I made the point earlier in this thread that the reason this jacket seems to fit poorly is that there is no snap in the waist. It just looks like a regular cylinder shape from top to bottom.

Triskel

Thank you, Simon. I hadn’t seen that comparison post and you are, indeed, correct that there is a vast difference between the coats made by the two houses you mention.

Thank you, also, Anonymous. As a fan of a “traditional” English waisted style I agree that the particular problem with the coat shown in the video is that it looks too much like a tube, but even with a more pronounced “snap” to the waist I am still not sure that a thin man can carry off a double breasted suit successfully, whereas a middle to fat man can. I used to think the reason was that I associated double breasted with older wearers, but now I incline to the (admittedly purely subjective) view that it is just more difficult to get this style right on the thin.

Clive

Very helpful as ever. On the back though, I struggle working out how best to handle my hollow back. I definitely don’t want to overly accentuate it but ignoring it can make the back shapeless. I also find sometimes that on a more shaped coat, the vent can push out over my backside unattractively. What advice would you give on optimizing this?

Jim Lottsfeldt

Simon,
It was easier to look at your jacket, rather than the Poole suit, when listening to your descriptions. Because the Donegal had a nice, lighter toned fleck, your jacket’s fabric was easier to read on camera. The dark cloth on your model swallowed the light and may account for some of the earlier comments criticizing its look.

I would encourage you to use fabrics that reflect more light for future videos.

Nico

Aren’t Charlie’s arms noticeably different in length? Or maybe one shoulder rather more sloping than the other? I was focusing on knuckle alignment to judge jacket length and thought that I would think fine alignment with the right but shortish with the left. Maybe something to take notice for jacket length references in subsequent videos.
No offence meant to Charlie, I am not saying it is a challenge of any kind.

Ludvig

Would it look weird if someone wore a waistcoat with a double breasted suit?

Ludvig

If I wore a pair of high-rise trousers there would be five layers covering the naval

DKP

Simon – I know you’ve mentioned before how you like to keep items such as keys, phone, etc in a bag or similar rather than in a pocket but if one is more apt to keep a phone in an interior breast pocket of a jacket, is there anything a tailor can do to minimise its impact on overall appearance & wear, e.g. a pocket within the pocket?

Nico

There usually is a pocket inside the left forepart. Most issues above disappear, use that. Just make sure to ask your tailor for generous width, as default it will not be enough.

Dennis

Is there more detail on the cloth the suit is made of? Looks like a nice color and texture.

Ronnie

Hi Simon,

Does this apply to blazers / sport coats in the exact same way, or would you have subtle differences for those?

Thanks!

Edric

Hi Simon. May I ask why you would prefer jackets to be a tiny bit longer than suits? I was under the impression that jackets should be shorter, since (well at least from my perspective, do correct me if i’m wrong) a jacket and trouser outfit would be more modern and casual compared a full suit, hence a shorter length would be more suitable.

Thanks.

Ronnie

Thanks for your previous answer regarding using the same approach for sport coats / jackets.

I do have one other question though, and that is about the sleeve length. I understand the ‘you always need to show off a bit of cuff from a shirt’ advice, but that does not give me an idea of how long my sport coat sleeves should actually be. Even more so when I have shirts with different sleeve lengths.

Would you say that the sleeve of a sport coat should end right above the top of your wrist bone (or the hinge of your wrist)?

I found this advice in this article: https://blacklapel.com/thecompass/how-long-should-my-suit-jacket-sleeves-be/

But I am curious on your personal approach and preference. Would you care to share this? Also regarding shirt sleeve length (as the two are almost always combined)?

Thanks Simon!

Ronnie

Hi Simon,

Thank you for your clear answer. The key is definitely to be consistent, whatever your preference regarding shirt/jacket and sleeve length might be.

But for me, I currently am at a new beginning of my wardrobe. When I was a bit younger, I had some nice basics but never really gave much thought regarding fit. A couple years went by, I went to the gym and here I am: about to buy my first blazer. Shirts will follow.

I want to be consistent, but I do need a starting point you see. And I thought the top of my wrist bone for a jacket sleeve length is a good one, but was afraid it might be too short. Also: the jacket will be a Suitsupply one. I will definitely ask the tailor there for his advice, but rather get it from someone (you) who has been longer in the game AND is a bit less ‘contemporary’.

I hope you understand my situation, and therefore could provide me with feedback regarding sleeve lengths for shirt/jacket (other than investing in something else than Suitsupply).

Hope to hear,
Ronnie

Ronnie

Hi Simon,

Thanks for your response. Hopping to the tailor today 😀

Richard

Helpful. Any visibility for the release of the fit of trousers?

SN

Hi Simon,

Hope all is well. Forgive me if you’ve already covered this, but I searched and couldn’t find anything on your site about it. I’m getting an MTM suit made and the sleeve width seems obviously large on the fitting jacket. They have the ability (within a range of course) to narrow the sleeve width. Some guidance or general information would be fantastic.

My problem is I’m skinny and have wider shoulders for my height/weight, so a standard 38 jacket has very wide sleeves on me. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Tony

Hi Simon, I’m a big fan and a long time reader of yours. What comment would you give on the fit of my suit? Lapel gap, some X at the button, high gorge, etc. I feel like the lapel/chest gap is very annoying. Thank you.

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Tony

Thank you for your reply! I think next time I will tell the tailor to give more drape in my chest and have a lapel dart (he said my big thick chest makes it hard to let the lapel lay flat). Unbuttoning the jacket also removes the gap, so maybe I will move the waist button down next time. For the first time I did not want to risk it so I went with their default gorge height, but next time will be better!

Cheers.