history of bespoke tailoring

The History of Bespoke Tailoring: Now and Then

The majority of today’s men wear ready-to-wear or made-to-measure clothes produced in factories. Only a very small minority of gentleman dress in bespoke clothes made by tailors, but 200 years ago every garment was made by hand. This article explains how clothes handmade by tailors have evolved from being an everyday product available in various price and quality categories to something exclusive and expensive. Read more

Duffle Coat Guide

Duffle Coat History, Details & Buying Guide

In the new year, we are continuing our overcoat series with an in-depth look at the hard-wearing Duffle coat. We’ll outline its history, details, how to wear it,  and how to buy the best Duffle coat for you.

Vintage Duffle Coat

Vintage Duffle Coat

Duffle Coat History

Just like the trenchcoat, there are manifold variations of the duffle coat today, and while all are perfectly fine to wear, it is interesting to know the origins of the garment and how it obtained the characteristic hood and toggle buttons. Notably, the duffle coat remains the only coat in a classic gentleman’s wardrobe today that has a hood. Although similar hoods were long used in menswear dating back to early Christian monk’s habits, the hooded duffle coat as we know it today dates back to the 19th century.

The Royal Navy During The Second World War

The Royal Navy During The Second World War

Belgian Origins of the Term ‘Duffel’

Duffle Coats abord HMS Iron Duke 1919

Duffle Coats abord HMS Iron Duke 1919

The most common myth about the origins of the Duffle is that the coat is of Belgian heritage. The Belgian town of Duffel in the province of Antwerp was known as a clothmaking town in the 15th century that exported its cloth all over Europe. The “duffel” fabric itself was a black, rough woolen fabric, and the duffle coat was in fact named after it. However, the duffle coat itself was never produced in the namesake city, nor was it made from Duffel fabric.

Anglo-Saxon Heritage

Generals Bubbles Barker & Monty in huge Duffle Coat

Generals Bubbles Barker & Monty in huge Duffle Coat

Many claim that the English borrowed the Belgian term to create the duffle coat as we know it today, and while it is correct that the English military and especially Sir Bernard “Monty” Montgomery and Sir David Stirling, founder of the SAS, popularized this garment during WWII, the British origins of this toggle closure overcoat can be traced back to 1887.  At the time, John Partridge, a British purveyor of outerwear, began to design and offer the duffle coat for sale. The look back then was quite different from today, though it already featured the characteristic wooden toggles. The coat was shorter and cut very roomy with a slightly angled toggle front closure, which looks similar to vintage motorcycle jackets.

Polish Frock Coat at around 1850 - predecessor of the duffle coat with toggles & hood

Polish Frock Coat at around 1850 – predecessor of the duffle coat with toggles & hood

A few years later, the Royal British Navy was searching for a hard-wearing, sailor-proof coat, and so the British Admiralty commissioned the duffle coat, which turned out to be a great success and was after that worn on military ships around the world.

Polish Ancestors

Even though John Partridge designed the British duffle coat, he clearly was inspired by the Polish “frock” coat. It was first introduced around 1820 and gained some popularity in continental Europe in the 1850’s. Just like the modern duffle coat, it was tailored with a hood and a horizontal toggle closure. Of course, back then pockets were not part of a coat and was worn more closely fitted than the bulky cut of the British Navy, but nevertheless, there is a great resemblance. Toggle closures have rarely been used in menswear for the last 200 years.

The Peak

Jean Cocteau in short, white duffle coat with Coco Chanel & Miss Weiseveiller in Veneto Street, Rome 1958

Jean Cocteau in short, white duffle coat with Coco Chanel & Miss Weiseveiller in Veneto Street, Rome 1958

The duffle coat probably reached peak popularity during the 1950’s – 1960’s for several reasons. First of all, Field Marshal Montgomery had helped to create an iconic look during World War II, which is why the duffle is to this day also known as a Monty in the UK. As such, it does not surprise that he was even made into a wax figure –  wearing the Monty coat, of course. Also, Colonel David Sterling liked his coat so much that he even wore it in the desert! After the war, the military released surplus duffle coats to the public, and artists, students, and intellectuals wore them. Jean Cocteau popularized his very own version in white. As a consequence, mothers would dress their children in them, raincoats adapted the duffle cut and the Dutch men’s fashion publication SIR published an article titled “The Monty-Coat Forever”.

Sir David Stirling, founder of the SAS with Duffle Coat in the Desert

Sir David Stirling, founder of the SAS with Duffle Coat in the Desert

Farid Chenoune, author of the book Men’s Fashion History, claims it was often worn with former naval sweaters, a college scarf, and corduroy trousers, but based on the many pictures I have seen from that period, I can say that it was worn with all kinds of garments, suits, and even tuxedos!

After the coat had reached the peak of its popularity, it never came close to the same level of success again. You will still see duffle coats on the street today, even though these models are often fashion interpretations of the original, far from the real thing.

Hemp Rope & Wooden Toggles

Hemp Rope & Wooden Toggles

Duffle Coat Details & Characteristics

Since the 20th  century, a duffle coat is made of a heavy, coarse woolen fabric. It features a roomy box-cut with a hood, a square shoulder yoke, and large patch pockets with hemp rope and wooden toggle closures.

The Fabric

The Original

Huge Duffle coat worn elegantly

Huge Duffle coat worn elegantly

As mentioned above, this coat got its name, though indirectly, from the Belgian city of Duffel and the rough and heavy linen and woolen cloth produced there. As a side note, this is also the fabric used for the original duffle bag. Although the coat bears its name, is was never actually used for the duffle coat production. Instead, a similarly heavy 34 oz per yard (1050 grams per meter) of double-faced, boiled woolen cloth with a twill structure (similar to Serge) was used. As of 1900, the British Admiralty demanded that all fabric including the wool had to be British, and so only domestic cloth was used. The original color for military duffle coats was camel beige, but in the early 20th century, khaki and brown versions were used. However, the navy was not used until the thirties.  In the fifties, navy blue and other colors became more popular with the public, and today you can find them in almost any color including red, racing green, olive green, gray, fawn, yellow, white…

If you look at the picture of Monty, you can see that the coat has a thick nap similar to the Casentino cloth. I think this was simply an effect that came with the age of the woolen fabric since new duffle coats did seem to have it.

Loden

Early Ad by Gloverall

Early Ad by Gloverall

In 1950, the Englishman Harold Morris and his wife Freda, who were already in the glove and overall business for blue collar workers, bought some surplus duffle coat fabric from the Navy along with some duffle coats and recreated them for workers. However, when the demand plummeted, they refocused on the consumer market with great success and became well known as the brand Gloverall – an amalgamation of gloves and overall. Instead of the original fabric, they used a 34 oz Tyrolean Loden fabric. Loden is a great fabric for outdoor use because its woven base is felted afterward, providing the cloth with a water repellent finish that is very hard wearing.

Other Fabrics

With elevated popularity in the fifties and sixties, different fabrics were used for duffle coats. At that time, synthetic fibers were state of the art and so you’d find Nylon wool and loden blends in addition to more traditional camel hair, tweedgabardine and even popeline for summer.

Details

The Cut

David van Epps, in a duffel coat, with members of the 894 Royal Naval Air Squadron. He and other Americans chose to fight for Britain before the U.S. entered World War II.

David van Epps, in a duffel coat, with members of the 894 Royal Naval Air Squadron. He and other Americans chose to fight for Britain before the U.S. entered World War II.

In the early days of the naval duffle coat, the garment was rather spartan. If you look at the old pictures, you can see how overwhelming these coats were in size. Especially the smaller sailors look a bit lost in such a huge garment. At the time of its introduction, the crew still had to climb rigging, and so they needed to be able to move in their coats, hence the wide cut. However, at the same time, it was difficult to keep the body warm with so many open holes and so some sailors would tie the duffle coat to their body with a rope or add cord to the inside of their hood allowing them to achieve a tight fit around their face.

After the Admirals in charge had received some feedback about the coat, some design changes were made. The duffle was cut more narrowly with a straight seam down the front with a generous overlap. Shoulders were reinforced with another layer of cloth and studs were attached to the hood, allowing sailors to adjust better it. Overall, it looked much more like it does today.

Regarding coat length, the original duffle coats were rather short, just about as long as a peacoat. During WWII, the length increased to about knee length or above and today you will find most coats to be somewhere in between.

Cord & Toggle

Leather & Horn Toggles

Leather & Horn Toggles

The toggles are probably the duffle coat’s most characteristic feature. Originally, hemp cord was used in combination with wooden toggles. Gloverall substituted them with more refined looking horn toggles and leather ties in 1954, and today most toggles are made out of plastic. In the beginning, the Royal Navy seems to have favored three toggles, but later they included a fourth. Purists may want to go with four but at the end of the day, it does not matter.

You often read that toggles are easier to close with gloves than buttons. In my experience, the opposite is true, and the toggles are there for a distinctive look.

Collar Strap

Collar Strap

Collar Bar

Similarly to the trench coat, the duffle coat has a bar underneath the collar, which is closed with two buttons so your neck can be better protected from the elements.

Shoulder Pads

The shoulders feature a double layer of cloth which serves to both help repel water better and prevent premature wear of the shoulder areas due to carrying items on one’s shoulder.

Patch Pockets & Wrist Tighteners on Monty Coat

Patch Pockets & Wrist Tighteners on Monty Coat

Patch Pockets

A duffle coat features two prominent patch pockets on the outside. I have seen some with flaps though the original naval duffle coat is likely the one without flaps.

Sunspel-Gloverall Duffle coat

Sunspel-Gloverall Duffle coat

Lining

The old duffles did not have a lining but in 1954, Gloverall added a checked lining to their coats and lately it seems like some companies even use – charmingly – a Union Jack for a lining. Purists should do it like Monty and skip the lining. Interestingly, the original Monty coat featured thigh straps on the inside of the coat that allowed you to fasten the coat to your legs.

When to Wear & How to Combine a Duffle Coat

Modern day duffle coat in camel

Modern day Duffle coat in camel

F.E. Castleberry in red Gloverall duffle coat

F.E. Castleberry in red Gloverall duffle coat

Traditionally, the duffle coat was worn on top of uniforms and even today, it is worn a bit more roomy that other overcoats. Although it was combined in the fifties with a variety of suits and sport coat outfits, it is decidedly more suited to casual outfits in tweed, thornproof, Saxony, etc., rather than superfine worsteds. Needless to say, never wear it with a tuxedo unless, like Jean Cocteau, you consider this coat to be your universal overcoat.

It also pairs well with jeans, chinos and corduroys as well as tennis sweaters or other heavy knit wear. Regarding footwear, boots or brogues are better than plain toe oxfords and many people even combine it with sneakers. If you decide to buy a duffle coat in an intense color such as red or yellow, try to tone down the rest of your outfit since you are already making a bold statement. Overall, I would recommend it for all things casual and consider it improper with anything business or evening related.

Where & How to Buy Duffle Coats?

Original Montgomery Duffel Coat

Original Montgomery Duffle Coat

Over its existence, millions of duffle coats have been produced, and there are still plenty of manufacturers who offer duffle coats or their particular spin on it.  For you, that means a wide range of choices is available between vintage, new, and bespoke. However, at the same time, this means that there is a lot to choose from and in the following section I will try to help find the duffle coat that is right for you.

Used & Vintage Duffle Coats

One if the first civilian duffles made by Gloverall in the early 1950's. It is a made form Loden wool fabric with rope and wood toggles.

One if the first civilian duffles made by Gloverall in the early 1950’s. It is a made from Loden wool fabric with rope and wood toggles.

True WWII duffle coats in great condition are difficult to find. They pop up every once in a while on eBay for about £10 – 100, but shipping from the UK is quite expensive. Of course, you may also be lucky to find a great duffle coat at a local store like vintage menswear in London, but this will be the exception to the rule. Thankfully, the wider cut will make shopping online less risky regarding sizing. Also, you can try vintage websites, such as this one, this one or that one. However, always bear in mind that the smallest size they used to make them in was a size 1, and I have seen a 6’2″ man weighing 250 lb. look like he has to grow into it. So only go for WWII coats it if you really want the real thing. Otherwise it will just be way too big on you.

New Duffle Coats

Modern Monty Coat

Modern Monty Coat

When it comes to new duffle coats, you have an almost endless choice of suppliers but none of them truly provides the real thing. Likely the closest imitation regarding fabric and details comes from Gloverall – called Monty, it currently costs £325.  They claim it is original, but just the fact that they use a 90% wool and 10% PA blend proves that it is far from authentic. The fabric comes from Italy and is not 34oz heavy as it used to be. The company likes to market their Monty as the “original” duffle coat despite the fact that the company was not founded until 1951, long after the inception of the naval duffle coat. If you can overlook this marketing transgression, and live with 10% nylon, it is the closest thing to the original, and it comes in sizes that fit better than the real coats.

Another supplier that claims to make original coats is Original Montgomery, which once again shows what an impact the Field Marshal had in Britain. According to their website, they have been producing duffle coats for the British Admiralty since the 1890’s, and still produce their signature product in England. Their product is less expensive – about £170 – and in return you get 30% polyester. That alone would be a reason for me not to buy it, but if you are on a budget, it may fit the bill.

Varsity Duffle Coat

Varsity Duffle Coat

Another manufacturer that provides 100% Loden duffle coats is Schneiders Salzburg from Austria. In the US, they are not readily available, but in Europe they are widely available in haberdasheries. If you want a duffle coat with flap, LL Bean offers an 18oz version in wool and if you live in Germany, you should consider Ladage & Oelke in Hamburg, who have been offering this classic in various colors for years.

If you do not concerned with absolute authenticity, there are a number of manufacturers that offers adapted designs of the duffle coat. They include Harnold Brook, which in fact used to make the real deal once upon a time but it seems like they were taken over by an Italian company recently. Japanese companies like Headporter Plus offer their version. A more fashion forward house, Comme des Garcons, is currently selling a Varsity duffle coat by Junya Watanabe for about €1000. Personally, I would stick with a more classic cut in a vivid color such as green, red or yellow, but each to his own.

Bespoke

Bespoke Duffle Coat in Red by Richard Anderson

Bespoke Duffle Coat in Red by Richard Anderson

Last but not least, you always have the option to go bespoke. Although every bespoke tailor should be able to make you one, many may not be familiar with the specific details and due to the lack of time for research, they may decline the project. Even on Savile Row, duffle coats are not the standard but it seems like Richard Anderson has developed a custom program for duffle coats made from a 21 oz wool melton cloth in various colors. Of course, a bespoke garment will be considerably more expensive than a standard duffle coat off the rack, but the fit should also be superior and you can build your very own garment in the fabric of your choice – maybe you can find a special 34oz Loden fabric or even a real Duffel – wouldn’t that be something? Like many things in classic fashion, a garment such as the duffle coat, if you can forsee wearing it for many years, would be worth the investment.

If you have other sources for duffle coats, please contact me and I will add them to the article. What duffle coats do you own, and what colors are your favorite?

15 must have items

15 Must-Have Items Every Gentleman Should Own

As scouts, we should “be prepared” for some situations, good or bad. Here we list fifteen items that every gentleman should have around, from occasional to frequent-usage; nothing too unusual. Some are unavoidable, and many Internet lists mention them, but some are decidedly intriguing.

Read more

how a suit should fit

How A Suit Should Fit

You can hear it every time a suit is discussed – what matters most is the fit. The problem is, apart from shoulder width, sleeve and pants length the details are not really discussed. Therefore, we thought it was time to create a comprehensive Guide on How A Suit Should Fit.


Unfortunately, it is impossible to properly describe the fit of a suit without a moving picture. Therefore, it is essential to watch the videos, even if you normally prefer to read. Don’t miss out on the second video here.

 

Why Should You Care About Fit? Comfort & Looks!

First of all, a well-fitting suit is almost as comfortable as wearing a sweater and sweatpants. Second of all, it makes you really stand out from the crowd and people will look at you and think you’re really dapper but they can’t pinpoint that it’s a fit of your suit.

Why Does A Properly Fitting Suit Make You Look Better? Symmetry!

The answer is actually quite simple; a suit hides everything that’s asymmetrical about your body and hides all the flaws, at the same time highlighting features such as your shoulders and your chest, giving you a natural v-shape that’s very flattering and attractive. So if you feel more comfortable, it has an impact on the way you look, the way you stand, and the way you walk. Everything says I’m more confident and that little extra notch will help you to land that job or get that respect that you deserve.

So What’s The Big Problem? 99% Of All Suits Don’t Fit

When I’m on the street, I see 99% of the men wearing suits that fit not so well or terribly ill and even sometimes when people tell me “Oh I found a suit that fits like a glove”, chances are their standards are not high enough so they just are satisfied with something that is not really a proper fit.

What Exactly Is A Suit? Matching Pants & Jacket

A suit means it is a matching garment of jacket and pants made of the same cloth. You can add a vest, you don’t have to, if you do it’s called a three-piece suit; if not, it’s called a two-piece suit. It’s double-breasted or single-breasted, doesn’t matter. The term suit comes from the French “suivre” which means to follow. That means the jackets follows the trousers or the pants follow the jacket.

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing suits

Sven Raphael Schneider wearing suits

So the pictures you can see above are suits; matching pants and jacket. What you can see here, is a combination, for example with a blazer or a sport coat or a tweed jacket.

Aspects Of A Well-Fitting Suit Jacket

collar shoud fit snuggly around your neck

collar shoud fit snuggly around your neck

Collar

The first thing you can look at when you buy a suit or have a suit made is the collar of the suit. It should fit snugly against your neck without being overly tight and it should never stand away or gap. If you have a round shoulder the way I do, chances that your jackets gap more easily are much higher than if you have a straight posture. Because of that, you always have to go to the alterations tailor or talk to your made to measure provider or tailor and make sure you get a proper fit.

The problem is when you stand, most jackets look good, the issue starts when you start moving when you lift your arms and you still want that jacket collar to sit tight against your shirt collar. So your natural movements, sit down, move your arms, drink something from a bottle, maybe eat, and if it stays in the back and it stays by your shirt tips, you know you’ve got a well-fitting collar. Even if you have an ill-fitting collar, the good news is it can be fixed by an alteration tailor so just pay attention to that. It’s not an easy fix but it can be done.

shoulder should be slightly hanging over to give you a broader look

shoulder should be slightly hanging over to give you a broader look

Shoulder

Ideally, you want the shoulder seam on top to be just slightly extended from the bone on your shoulder. Unlike a dress shirt which ends exactly at the bone, you want it to be slightly hanging over to give you a broader look and enable a range of movement because when you have multiple layers of fabric, the outer layer always has to be a little longer to be comfortable, you want the top part  at your shoulder to be smooth and not puddling.

poor fitting shoulder

poor fitting shoulder

If you encounter a jacket that has puddles, it’s too big, you should leave it behind because changing it is almost impossible. You also have a poorly fitting shoulder if you see huge dents right underneath the top of the padding and your actual arm. It makes you look more like a football player and you should always leave those suits behind.

On the other hand, if your shoulder is too tight, you’ll have a hard time moving forward and moving your arms naturally because it constricts you in the back. If you’re unsure, you can always measure your shoulder width from bone to bone and at about half an inch or a centimeter to get the right shoulder width that you should have in a suit.

Armholes

Most armholes in suits are too big because suits are industrially made and they want to have a one size that fits it all, the problem is if you have huge arm holes, it may seem like it’s more comfortable but it actually isn’t because as soon as you move, your entire jacket moves with you and constricts you. On the other hand, if you have a tight armhole that ends just below your armpit, you can easily move and comfortably wave for a cab and look dapper all day without feeling constricted. If you have an armhole that is too small, you’ll see wrinkles on the sleeve head and it also constricts you when you reach forward because you reach a point here that just makes it impossible to reach forward.

too tight armholes

too tight armholes

If you go bespoke or made me to measure, you can sometimes ask to give you a little more space in the front the arm hole, in the back, and have it very tight on your armpit; that way you get the range of movement, you get a nice look, the fabric drapes well and it almost feels like a sweater.

bone to bone measurment

bone to bone measurement

Chest

When it comes to a good fit of the chest it’s always easy to see because some chests are fuller and they have more fabric that drapes well and for that, it’s called Drape. On the other hand, you can have a very lean trim cut chest that is sometimes more popular with slim fit suits but it will never have that same amount of drape. The advantage of folds is that it makes your chest look bigger and it gives you that V shape that’s very attractive to the opposite sex.

In the 1930s, you had drape cut that was very extreme. I think the suit I’m wearing is a little more constricted but you can still see I have excess fabric and it provides a nice silhouette of my body. When your chest width is too tight and you move around, you can see your lapel break a little bit simply because there’s not enough room, also you likely see vertical pleats in the front and in the back.

Ideally, you should always measure your chest at the widest point. In Europe, a size 50 means you double it by 2 which means it’s a hundred centimeters. If you measure 100 centimeters, you probably have a size 50, should be right for you. If you’re in the US and you’re a size 42 regular, for example, it means the chest should be 42 regular.

Now that being said, manufacturers have different ideas of how a suit should fit and sometimes I found old English suits in a size 42 which were way too baggy on me versus other suits are 44 and they’re way too tight. So don’t just rely on the actual number but measure the jacket, measure your chest, and ideally try it on.

side vents

side vents

Vents

Today, most jackets have side vents, they are the most flattering. Ideally, you want high long vents that end exactly where your jacket pocket ends. The last hundred years, center vents have been in and out of fashion but originally, they were meant for horseback riding so unless you wear a jacket on the back of a horse, skip it.

In the 20s and 30s, you would often see ventless jackets and it’s still popular for evening wear because it gives you the ultimate clean line, however, if you sit a lot or if you sometimes put your hands in your pocket, side vents are much more flattering. Personally, I have a big bump and because of that, it’s very easy for vents to gap but you should avoid that. If you have a big bum, you should pay particular attention to keeping your vents closed and I know that because I have one. If you go ventless and it’s too tight, you can actually feel it it’s constricting you and chances are, you will see some wrinkles above your bum.

proper jacket length

proper jacket length

Length

It’s very important to get it right in the first place because even though you can physically change the length of the jacket, it will always look off if you do so. The proportions will simply not work and the location of your pockets will seem off as well as the buttoning point and therefore if you encounter something that is too short or too long simply leave it behind.

incorrect length of a jacket

incorrect length of a jacket

What Exactly Is Too Short Or Too Long?

Most tailors will have jackets that are slightly longer in the front than they are in the back because it provides a flattering silhouette. Sometimes they also do it very flat and that’s something you usually only find at bespoke because even made-to-measure can’t adjust the patterns to that.  Also, if you have a round back, for example, the way I do, you need to have extra length in the back to get the right proportion. Traditionally, the proper jacket length always meant that at least your bum was covered.

In recent years, especially with younger men, jacket lengths have become a lot shorter and sometimes you can find older gentleman complaining about that and they say it looks like you got a jacket from your younger brother.

bum covered jacket length

bum covered jacket length

The proper way to look at jacket length is into an optical relation to your entire height and to your pants. So ideally, if you stand and you look at the profile from the side the length from the back of your neck to the bottom of your jacket should be exactly the same length as from the bottom of your jacket to the bottom of your pants. Obviously, you need someone to help you with that because you can’t measure it yourself but if you get those proportions exactly one-to-one, you will always look very well dressed and dapper and timeless.

The problem with going with the jacket is too long means that your torso appears longer and your legs shorter which makes it look goofy. Same thing the other way around, if you have very long legs and a short torso, it just seems off. The great thing about a tailored suit is that it can hide certain flaws. Personally, I have a long torso and short legs but using the suit and using those one-to-one proportions, I can look exactly the same as someone who has long legs and a short torso or someone who has regular long legs and a regular long torso.

Sleeves

A sleeve should always hang very nicely without any wrinkles. If you see all the wrinkles chances are the sleeve pitch is wrong which means the way and the angle the sleeve was set in, that can be fixed by a tailor but they have to be quite skilled. Of course, the sleeve length is often a subject of long discussions, and there are all kinds of opinions and if you want to learn more about them please check out our sleeve length video where I explain everything you need to know about sleeve length of a jacket.

extra fabric on the sleeve for better range of movement

extra fabric on the sleeve for better range of movement

One thing that’s often not talked about when it comes to sleeves is the upper sleeve. If you want to have a great movement and a comfortable jacket, you need some extra fabric on the top of your sleeve simply to reach forward, otherwise, if it’s too tight, it may look great when your arms hang down but as soon as you move, you’re constricted in that area. It’s a fault  I see a lot in ready-to-wear jackets to this day, especially now that slim fit suits are trendy. Going made-to-measure or bespoke has a great advantage that you can specify those things and a small armhole in combination with a wider upper sleeve will provide you a much more comfortable jacket that looks the part.

Suit Fitting Secrets Nobody Talks About

Let us move on to the more advanced aspects of a well-fitting suit.

perfect back

perfect back

Back

While most people look at the front, a back can really tell you if a jacket fits perfectly or not. First, the top of your back right underneath the collar; you shouldn’t have any lines that are horizontal or vertical. Same thing all the way down. The only area where you can have a few wrinkles is around your armpit underneath the shoulders simply because you need that for the range movement, otherwise, if you see a suit from the back and it’s very clean and hangs very neat and the vents don’t gap, I can bet you that the rest of the suit will fit well because something like that will never fit like that off the rack. You’ll always have to have either some alterations or it’s a made to measure or bespoke garment.

back must have no wrinkles

the back must have no wrinkles

At this day and age, many men have sloped shoulders and in my case, my right shoulder is more sloped than the other. So if I take a ready-to-wear garment, I can always see wrinkles directly underneath my armpit simply because my shoulder hangs lower by about 2 inches or 5 centimeters and I can also see concentric wrinkles under my right shoulder. That’s something I can only fix by either changing the entire jacket or I can add in a little bit of padding on one side which then gives you the issue that you may see a little gap on the sleeve, otherwise, you have to go with a customized pattern that will deviate the flaws of your body and make you look dapper.

flattering v shape front

flattering v shape front

Front

We move to the front of the jacket. You ideally want to see an hourglass shape or a v-shape on top and then a skirt that drapes slightly out in the bottom, it’s very flattering. In the US, there used to be a sack suit style but that’s not really flattering because it makes you actually look like a potato sack. If you see X wrinkles, that means your jacket is too tight especially around the buttoning point. If you see vertical wrinkles in the front on your chest, that means it’s too big.

x wrinkles signify a too tight jacket

x wrinkles signify a too tight jacket

balance

balance

Balance

One thing that’s often never talked about is balance and by that, I mean the length and the proportions of the front and the back when looked at from the side. As I mentioned before, most of the time, the back is shorter than the front and getting it completely level is very hard to achieve and usually only something you find with bespoke tailors.

Front quarters impact the entire look of your jacket

Front quarters impact the entire look of your jacket

Quarters

One thing that has a huge impact on the way your jacket looks are the front quarters and how they’re cut. Traditionally, the quarters are much more closed which in my opinion, provides an old man look versus if you have more open rounded quarters that are cut up slightly, It provides a certain dynamic. Now, if you open your quarters too much, you may actually end up seeing the tip of your tie or maybe even your dress shirt from underneath the buttoning point which is a bad look. So you always have to coordinate the quarters with the rise of your pants. If you have more open quarters, you want higher rise pants. If you have a lower and more close quarters, it doesn’t matter.

Definitely a fashion faux pas - your tie should never peek out from under your jacket

Definitely a fashion faux pas – your tie should never peek out from under your jacket

you must be able to pull the front of your jacket for a bit when buttoned

you must be able to pull the front of your jacket for a bit when buttoned

Buttoning Point

If your tie pokes out from underneath the buttoning point, the fit is off. In most cases, the buttoning point should be around your natural waist which is usually the belly button were slightly above the buttoning point can have a huge impact on how you’re perceived visually. Let’s say you’re a shorter guy, you can slightly elevate that buttoning point because it will give you the appearance of having slightly longer legs. The same is true for my body type; I have a long torso and relatively short legs, so I bring up the buttoning point ever so slightly, that way I look pretty proportional I get that one to one aspect ratio in my length and I’m just dapper and people would never assume that I have shorter legs than another man of my height. It works the same the other way around, if you have long legs in a short torso and you want to balance it, you can bring the buttoning point a little lower.

Now, don’t go too extreme because otherwise, you easily look like a guy in the 90s when they had very wide jackets with lots of excess fabric and a very low buttoning point. Also, when your jacket is buttoned, you want to be able to pull it a little bit and have about two inches of five centimeters of room. Sometimes it can be a little less but you don’t want it to be too tight otherwise it’s uncomfortable; and if it’s too wide, you get puddling creases. Note, when you wear a three-piece suit, you should wear your jacket unbuttoned versus if you have a two-piece suit it should be buttoned. Of course, we could talk about buttoning points but it’s gonna be a subject of another video so stay tuned.

pants

How dress pants should look

Dress Pants

As you know the jacket is only one part of the suit, so let’s talk about the trousers or dress pants. They should never be too tight nor too baggy. They must have the proper inseam length which means a slight break or no break.

Pants must have the right circumference around your waist, bum, thigh, knee, and ankle. You always want clean lines and no wrinkles although it’s very difficult to achieve, your pleats should never gap and I believe that a higher rise trouser has it’s unnatural ways which is slightly lower above, is much more flattering, and comfortable to wear especially with the suit. If you’re either not in perfect shape, or your clothes are not tailored, you probably will need either a belt or suspenders. I think suspenders are better for suits because they’re more comfortable unless you mind that weight in your shoulders, otherwise, they will keep your pants at the same height all day long versus with a belt chances are your pants will slide down a little. Now, what does it mean not too long or just right? We already created an in-depth guide about how pants should fit and that applies for all suit pants and dress pants as well.

When wearing suits, suspenders are more flattering compared to belts

When wearing suits, suspenders are more flattering compared to belts

CONCLUSION

Now that you know all the important aspects of how a suit should fit, it’s important to keep in mind that a heavier fabric drapes always better than a similar cut or the same kind of a suit in a thinner fabric. It’s just the added weight shows wrinkles less and it hides more tailoring flaws or flaws of your body versus a very thin fabric, highlights every issue there is in your body and the tailoring. So, if you really want to test the tailor and see how good they are, go with a very lightweight thin fabric.