Video: How long should a jacket be?

Monday, March 30th 2020
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This is the second in a series of videos in which we're looking at how a jacket should fit. The first one, here, was a summary of the basics on fit.

In this second one, we look at the length of a jacket.

This is the kind of thing that can seem like a relatively small aspect of a suit, but I find has a fundamental effect on the overall style. It is also one a lot of modern jackets get wrong, producing unflattering tailoring.

In all three videos, Charlie from Henry Poole has kindly offered to be our guinea pig, in his Henry Poole bespoke suit - made up in Spring Ram cloth from Harrison’s
In this, the second video, we will look specifically at how long a jacket should be.

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



The points made in the video, in summary, are:

  • There are generally three ways to consider how long a jacket should be.
  • First, half the length from the collar to the floor, so roughly half of the suit is jacket, half trouser.
  • However, that tends towards the long side for most jackets today. (Like lapels or tie widths, length varies over the years, but fortunately in decades not months).
  • Charlie's measurement is 64 inches, so a 32-inch jacket, but his is actually 31.
  • The second measurement is that the jacket should end at the second joint of your thumb.
  • Or, the same thing, that you should be able to curl your fingers underneath the hem of the jacket.
  • This is an easy one for a customer to remember and consider when they look at length in a mirror - but it does obviously depend on relative arm length
  • The third, that the jacket should cover the seat. This is probably the most fundamental one.
  • Few tailors would disagree that it’s elegant to cover your bum with the jacket, and it’s something a lot of modern brands get wrong, and is rather unflattering at the back
  • One reason it's flattering is that if the jacket covers the seat, the legs run up into the bottom of the coat, looking like they never end
  • All three ways are useful. But just as important is style.
  • A jacket will look more casual if it’s shorter, and more formal if it’s longer
  • Partly for that reason, a shorter jacket will often look better as a separate, rather than part of a suit
  • In the end, you should consider all these things and make up your own mind.
  • I tend to have sports jackets and suit jackets roughly the same length, but vary with style of the maker. For example, I have most Italian and French jackets cut shorter. But the rule I always abide by is that the seat should be covered
  • You can compare these local styles by looking at the Guide to Tailor Styles, where I give the measurements on every bespoke tailor I’ve used

The first video on suit fit can be seen here.

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