How your suit and shirt should fit.

How your suit and shirt should fit

Your appearance; whether sharp and confident, relaxed and cool, or sloppy and juvenile – is often reduced to the fit of your clothing. Finding the right tailor may be crucial, but there is nothing nearly as significant as sharing a critical eye with the fitting-room mirror. Fortunately for most of us, picking the right fit doesn’t require much natural talent. All that’s required is some quality time with apparel and an attention to detail. The following serves as a general fit guide for the novice.



Before we jump in, let us note that clothes best flatter a fit body. When it comes to your appearance, apparel is only part of the equation. It is important to eat well, drink well, and exercise occasionally. Many of us have busy lives and we cannot all be models, but you don’t need six-pack abs to look good. It is much easier for clothing to look great for someone in shape. However, losing weight isn’t the only thing that matters – if you’re lanky and stick-like, start working out. It will help you fill out your clothes. Additionally, before beginning have someone accurately take all of your measurements. These are very useful numbers when shopping for clothing in-store, and they are absolutely crucial when shopping online.

Dress Shirts


The collar should just graze your neck without constricting it. If turning your head causes the collar to turn with it, the collar is too tight. You should be able to comfortably fit two fingers inside of your buttoned collar without it tightening against your skin.

Your cuffs should meet the point where your palm begins (about 2cm up from your wrist bone). It should be tight enough that your thumb notch at your wrist will stop the cuff from moving up your hand. It should be a bit looser than a properly fitting watch, and not go farther up your wrist than that watch.

The shoulder seam should be at your shoulder bone. This is the point on your shoulder that is the greatest distance away from your sternum.

Sleeves should not be so tight that you can see the details of your arms, but they should also not be so loose as to billow. When you bend your arm, your cuff should not move more than an inch up your wrist.

Shirt length should be such that bending and making natural movements does not cause the shirt to become untucked. Additionally, your shirt should remain tucked if you fold your hands behind your head. If this is a problem, the shirt may be too short or the armholes may be too low. Alternatively, armholes should not be tight around the shoulder.

Left: Just right, cuff stops where your palm meets your arm. 
Middle Left: Sleeves are to long and start to cover the hand.

Middle Right: Too large asize causing the shirt to billow and crease.
Right: Shirt is flush to the torso but loose enough not to restrict movement.


About 2 cm of shirt should be revealed by the jacket collar. The shoulder seam should lie on the edge of your shoulder. The aim is to reduce the amount of buckling, as the shoulders should have no apparent wrinkles or divots while the arms are down at the sides.

Similarly to shirts, armholes must be sufficiently high, and alternatively should not be cutting into your armpit. The arms should move somewhat independently of the jacket during normal motions.

While buttoned, the jacket should not pull across the chest (fabric making an ‘X’ shape across your abdomen). Similarly, it should not pull across the shoulders when arms are folded.

Holding your hand flat, you should easily be able to fit it inside the jacket under the lapels.

The jacket’s second button from the bottom should lie just above your belly-button, never below.

With your arms at your sides, the sleeves should cover the wrist bone.

If a jacket doesn’t fit your shape properly, sometimes the bottoms will flare out, a product of the jacket being too slim in the waist, so your hips push out the fabric.

A suit jacket’s length – like a good lawyer – should cover your ass

Left: Tell-tale X shape at button when a blazer is too tight
Middle Left: No folds of fabric bunching at the button; a perfect fit
Middle Right: An unsightly divot at the shoulder of the suit jacket.
Right: The shoulder is smooth with an uninterrupted line.



Most rules are the same as suit jackets, in that shoulder seams should lie at your shoulders (given what you’re wearing underneath).

Keep in mind what you will be wearing under your coat, as the size will need to adjust accordingly.

The coat should not be roomy, but should lie close to your body and accentuate your shape. That being said, it should be in no way taut, and should allow freedom of movement.

Sleeve should go about an inch up your hand from your wrist (an inch longer than a dress shirt sleeve), to ensure that you’re not showing any sleeve from something you’re wearing underneath.

Like a jacket, if a coat doesn’t fit right sometimes the bottoms will flare out like a bell, beware of this. It makes the coat look skirt-like.

Chinos & Dress Trousers


No pants should need a belt to stay on your hips.
The pants in the image are somewhat a slimmer cut. There is nothing wrong with the fit, but some may prefer a more conservative look.

Avoid pleats. They make you look as though you are carrying more weight around your stomach.

The chino should not be tight to the leg, but also should not billow. It should be comfortably close to the leg without causing resistance.You generally want a single break in the pant leg. A break is a crease at the base of the pant leg created when the pant collapses onto the shoe. If you’re going sockless with slim chinos then you probably want no breaks.


Similar to the Chino in fit, dress trousers should not be tight to the leg, nor billowing but, lie comfortably close to the leg without resistance but they will naturally drape more.

Again, avoid pleats as they make you appear heavier.
The trousers should have a single defined crease down the center of each pant leg.

You want to aim for a smaller break, but you still want a break. Some people opt for a cuff that weighs down the pants and has no break, some even use lead sewn into the cuff to achieve this. I believe a small break (as shown) is pleasing to the eye, and Brooks Brothers adhere to this style.



Regarding cut, the jeans should be slim in the thigh and straight or tapered from the knee down. Avoid bootcut.

Go with your waist size and stick with straight leg or slimmer. Size down 1 for a slimmer fit. The jeans will stretch.

When it comes to breaks due to gravity, most people don’t want more than a few, as shown. Some people aim for more breaks, this is called “stacking”. Ultimately the number of breaks is a matter of taste. Depending on the style of the jeans and rigidity of the denim, you can get away with bunching further up the leg. Since jeans are very versatile and can be fit with numerous styles, this varies.

Length can vary if you plan to cuff the jeans. Jean cuff can vary from 3-12cm depending on your style.



The tie should simply sit under your collar, and should not tighten your collar.

Your knot should vary depending on your collar. A wider collar, such as a cutaway, would call for a larger knot such as a full-windsor. A narrow collar, such as a pointed collar, would call for a four-in-hand. Experiment and see what knots look good to you.

While standing straight, the bottom of your tie should just reach the center of your belt



While on your feet, you should not be able to easily fit a finger behind your heel (this varies a bit, but your shoes shouldn’t be roomy).

You should be able to barely graze the front of the shoe with your toes. The front of the shoe should not be pressing on your toes.

The shoe should exert little to no pressure on the sides of your feet. This should be obvious, but walking should be comfortable and take no effort.

With formal shoes choose a round-toe (as pictured) as flat-toed shoes give your foot a clunky appearance.

The Gabardine Suit

For the ultimate in light-colored suit fare, nothing beats the colonial gabardine. Since its introduction in the thirties, the classic gab has consistently ranked right up there on the list of idealized dress suits. Costly to weave, expensive to tailor, sometimes problematic to press. The top-quality gabardine is delicate, luxurious and has limited wearability.

Not a colonial coloured Gabardine, but a very modern shawl collar navy blue Gabardine suit.

Not a colonial coloured Gabardine, but a very modern shawl collar navy blue Gabardine suit.

While not as sumptuous as its wool confrere, the cotton gabardine two-piece offers a soothing alternative to the typically dine suit will wrinkle, but its satiny freshness and cool suppleness offer the humidified epidermis a princely measure of comfort.

1-button contemporary navy blue suit jacket with shawl collar slanted pockets jetted & double breasted waistcoat

What is Gabardine?

Gabardine (or Gaberdine) is a smooth cloth in fine to medium worsted yarns that is so tightly woven it is soil-resistant and almost water-resistant. The twill rib is pronounced due to a weave with more warp threads than weft. It is usually in solid colours. This cloth is a popular suiting for all uses, including formal dress. Gabardine is also used for tailoring coats, raincoats, uniforms and men's shirts.

Racing green Gabardine suit with peak lapels and slanted pockets.

When it comes to worsted wool gabardine, the advantages are that it wears very well. It feels comfortable and it holds shape well. Wrinkles will go away when you hang it. The disadvantages however are that it is a 'dry clean only' suiting. It shows press marks very easy. Cleaners can over press too. You should request careful pressing.

History of Gabardine


The word Gabardine or Gaberdine has been used to refer to a "dress, covering" since the 1590s. It was originally a long, loose cloak or gown worn in the Middle Ages, but later it would signify a rain cloak or protective smock-frock. It has been used to mean "closely woven cloth" since 1904. 

Gabardine was invented in 1879 by Thomas Burberry, founder of the Burberry fashion house in Basingstoke, and patented in 1888. The original fabric was waterproofed, before weaving and was worsted wool or worsted wool and cotton, tightly woven and water-repellant but more comfortable than rubberized fabrics. 

Burberry clothing of gabardine was worn by polar explorers, including Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, in 1911, and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A jacket made of this material was worn by George Mallory on his ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924. 


At De Oost we have tailored several suits with Gabardine suiting fabric. Gabardine is also popular for making a separate pair of trousers. Because the fabric is tightly woven, it is firm, durable and rather lustrous, which makes it a good tough fabric for a sturdy pair of trousers.

Taupe solid Gabardine trousers.

The Effect of a Gabardine Suit

Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy (1983).

Roger Moore as James Bond in Octopussy (1983).

The website discusses several suits worn in the different James Bond movies. It is notable that light brown Gabardine suits were worn in two James Bond movies. On the picture on the left we see Roger Moore as James Bond visiting India in Octopussy in a tan wool Gabardine suit. On the picture underneath we see him wear a light brown Gabardine Suit in For Your Eyes Only. A light-weight gabardine wool suit in light brown is a great suit for spring when it’s fairly warm but too early to take out the summer suits. In For Your Eyes Only, James Bond wears the light brown suit in Corfu to church for his confession to Q. 

Roger Moore as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only (1981).

Roger Moore as James Bond in For Your Eyes Only (1981).

The Striped Suit

Of all men’s suitings, none has ever matched the glamour and popularity of the striped suit. At one time or another in the thirties, the striped suit probably graced every pair of male shoulders, from the humble to the most famous, from the unemployed to the chairman of the board.

Although its stripes had to be positioned perfectly for maximum effect, this pattern’s innate appeal derived from its vertical line. Elongating any physique, the striped worsted quickly established itself as the patriarch of all patterned dress suits.

The variety and scale of classy suiting stripes are endless. They can be in single, double, or triple tracks, against plain or fancy background. Lines can be faint or bold, from subtle shadows to hairlines to pins, up to pencils or chalks, in spacings ranging from narrow to wide. 

History of The Striped Suit

The striped jacket and matching trouser formed their own partnership around the turn of the century when the lounge suit started to replace the black jacket and odd striped trouser for business dress. When the Prince of Wales launched the daytime vogue for shadowy chalk stripes, he elevated the stripe suit to new level of cosmopolitan consciousness.

The montage of striped swells here illustrates the proposition that when executed knowledgeably, the two-color tailored ensemble can add up to more than just a simple two-color look.

Laurence Fellows illustration of a gentleman in classic striped suit.

Laurence Fellows illustration of a gentleman in classic striped suit.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby wearing doublebreasted striped suits with wide lapels.

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby wearing doublebreasted striped suits with wide lapels.

The Striped Suit - Part of the modern business attire

Many modern online style guru's suggest to wait with getting a striped suit if you do not have your collection of basic suits in your wardrobe. The great thing with the solid navy, the solid charcoal, the solid medium grey and the solid light grey is that you could wear those almost every day and change out your shirt, change out your tie, change your pocket square, perhaps even sometimes change your shoe style and you are going to find out that people are not going to notice that you are wearing the same suit. 

A striped suit however, stands out, so people will remember you as 'that man with the striped suit.' Those other suits do not necessarily draw attention to themselves like a striped suit does, because they are simple classics and many people are not going to notice if one day you are wearing a navy and the other you are wearing a charcoal. But a striped suit demands to be noticed.

The Striped Suit: Perfect for Short and Heavy Men

Without question, correctly cut cloths can definitely aid the short, stout man in appearing taller and thinner. Vertical Striped patterns help to elongate the figure, the eye needs to be distracted from the waistline and led north to the shoulders and south below the knees. 

James Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano in the TV-series The Sopranos, wearing a navy blue chalk striped suit.

James Gandolfini, as Tony Soprano in the TV-series The Sopranos, wearing a navy blue chalk striped suit.