This is by no means an exhaustive post. Still, I thought it might be helpful to address some of the most common questions about custom suit fit. Sometimes there is room for preference based on comfort and what “looks” right to a client’s eye. But many people, especially when ordering a suit for the first time, just want to know the rules. So in this post, I’ll cover some basics. Let me know if you have other specific questions related to custom suit fit!
#1: I think I want some shirt cuff to show, right? How much is normal?
Showing a quarter-inch to half-inch of shirt cuff is the norm for a suit jacket. This is one of those visual details that makes the fit look just right instead of almost-there.
But this isn’t a make-or-break rule for all jackets in all circumstances. Some clients just don’t like this look, and that is okay. In that case, I will make the jacket sleeves a quarter-to-half-inch longer. Also, if a jacket will be worn more casually – let’s say with a t-shirt instead of a long-sleeved dress shirt – I’m more likely to err on the longer side. But the half-inch of cuff is especially classy for showing off a monogram (pictured here) and/or cuff links.
#2: I’ve heard of half break and full break, but don’t know what this means. How long should my pants be?
The break refers to the dip toward the bottoms of your pant legs, where the fabric gathers a bit as it falls against your shoes. When there’s no pant break, your pants will look too short (unless you’re purposely going for a fashion-forward short-pant look). Most off-the-rack pants will probably have a full break, which means more fabric around the tops of your shoes. The ideal custom pants silhouette is a half-break, which looks like this.
Elegant, right? In the front, the pant cuff gently flares out to fall around the top of the shoe. The length in the back is nowhere near the sole of the shoe. In this particular case, we chose the “military cuff” option, meaning that the back of the pants are ever-so-slightly longer than the front.You can see the length difference if you follow the lowest horizontal purple line. This is an optional touch, but it eases potential worries about the pants looking too short in the back.
For a more traditional look, you might opt for a full break. This would add no more than three-quarters to a full inch more in length.
#3: What’s the rule for how long my jacket should be?
Here’s the rule that works most of the time: with your arms are relaxed at your sides, the bottom edge of the jacket should line up the point where your fingers begin and the main part of your hand ends. So you can easily bend your fingers to grasp the bottom of the jacket without bunching it. The only problem with this rule is that it depends on your body proportions. If your arms are disproportionately short or long, it doesn’t work. So the rule I prefer is that the bottom of the jacket should roughly line up with the crotch of your pants, or barely above. From the back view, this means the jacket will cover your rear end. Casual jackets can be a little shorter and still look fine. Here’s the ideal look for a formal suit:
#4: What’s the rule for buttoning my jacket?
Okay, I cheated a bit with this one…because I wish this were a question I heard more often. I’ve been surprised to find how many people don’t know this, although it’s not exactly an intuitive thing. You should never button the bottom button of your jacket. This means that for a two-button jacket, you should only button the top button. This is the point at which the jacket is tailored to be buttoned. The bottom button is basically decorative.
For a three-button jacket, the rule is (from top to bottom) “sometimes, always, never.” In the photo below, the groom could have also left the top button unbuttoned. The true “stomach” dimension of the jacket lines up with the middle button. But the bottom button is left unbuttoned.
That’s all for now. I hope this has been helpful. If you have any other questions, please drop them in the comments below, or send me a message to schedule a fitting and leave your custom suit fit to me!