What’s the key to good style? Ask a bunch of guys and they’ll all have different answers. Your best friend Joe says that if you wanna be cool you’ve gotta be the first on the block to score the new Air Jordans. Your boss says it’s all about the freshly starched pants. Your creepy neighbor tells you that bedazzled dragon shirts really impress the ladies. But these people are all wrong. They’re wrong not because of their style preferences, but because – like most men – they’re overlooking the single most important fashion tip of them all: clothes should fit.
Why Fit Matters
Ever notice how celebrities can wear an outfit and look impeccable? When normals try to pull off the same thing, they sometimes look sloppy, if not ridiculous. The secret’s in the fit. You may see a well-dressed celebrity, but what you don’t see are the heavy clamps holding a suit jacket in place for a photo shoot or the new hemlines that make a pair of jeans end where they should. Clothes that fit can make you look more professional, more stylish and even more sexy. Fashion fads and designer labels are temporary phenomena. But fit? Fit never dies.
Common Fit Problems
There’s a sort of selective blindness that causes many men to walk through life in ill-fitting clothing, and they have no idea that they’re doing this whole “dressing thing” wrong. The guy with the pants hanging out at thigh-level? He’s making a conscious choice, and whether you like that trend or not, consciousness is style. That dude at the bar in the rumpled suit, on the other hand, is unconscious in probably at least two ways. A lot of guys find themselves drunk in bars from time to time, and a lot of guys think they’re wearing perfectly suitable professional attire when it’s just not true.
To make sure you aren’t one of those men, learn what to look for. Head to your closet and put on your best suit. Then check to see if you’re meeting these standards:
- Suit jacket sleeves should hang out at the wrist bone, exposing about half an inch of the shirt underneath.
- Pants should end one or two centimeters above the sole of your shoe.
- Jacket shoulders shouldn’t droop or alter the natural shape of your arm.
- When your jacket is buttoned and your hands are at your sides, the fabric should fall flat against your body instead of bulging out at the lapel or billowing at the waist.
- Pants should be snug enough to stay put without a belt but not so tight that you’re forced to take shallow breaths.
- When you’re standing straight, pant legs and shirt sleeves should never bulge or wrinkle.
So how did you do? If you’re standing at your bedroom mirror openly weeping at what you now clearly see is a bad suit, don’t despair. Instead, pull yourself together and use these tips to work the problem.
The Secret to Fit
Okay, now it’s time to get out of that bulky horror-show and into something stylish. The first thing you can do is to accept the frame you were given instead of fooling around with ten pounds of unnecessary fabric in an attempt to create a convincing optical illusion. The next thing is to ditch the “good enough” mentality, if you suffer from it. Purchasing clothes that fit in some places but not others is a risky business, so if you’re going to do it, you’ll need to make friends with a tailor. Look for a good fit in the places that are the hardest to alter. Jacket shoulders are tricky, for example. Fixing sleeve length, however, is usually a breeze.
Of course, the single best way to optimize your fit is to have your clothes built for you. It may not be a smart choice for your T-shirts and gym shorts, but when it comes to creating a sharp business suit, a custom suit is a lot more affordable than you’d think. Customized menswear fashion sites like Trio Tailoring and Indochino let you create perfectly tailored suits, and the deals are good right now. If you want great results without wasting hours of your time in department stores, that’s how you do it.
You know, poor posture can make you look shorter, fatter, lazier or sadder, but when you straighten up and walk with your head high, your entire appearance changes. When you wear clothes that fit, the effect is the same. You don’t have to stop being you. You don’t have to spring for designer labels or passing fads. Fit isn’t about that. It’s about showing yourself in the best light possible. And isn’t that what we all want from fashion?
Alayna Frankenberry is a freelancer whose writing can be found on PR Daily, GalTime, and Broke Professionals. Her fashion knowledge can be found on the backs of all of her dapper male friends who were smart enough to take her advice.