Step 4: Make it Fit
No matter how much it costs, a suit is only as good as its tailoring. Fit is everything. Once you’ve decided you want a two-button, single-breasted suit with a notch lapel, a double vent, and flap pockets (nice choosin’—it sounds like a winner), you’re ready to focus all your attention here. It doesn’t matter if your suit costs $500 or $5,000; if the thing fits like a garbage bag, it won’t look good. If you hang your arms loose at your sides, your fingers should be able to easily cup the bottom hem of your suit jacket. Any shorter and you’ll look like a doll. Longer and you’ll look like an undertaker. Here's how the rest should fit:
Your Shoulders: A tailor can't fix a bunk, saggy shoulder, so make sure the seam ends right at the outside of yours. You want military precision here. Also: Most guys overestimate their jacket size. Think you're a 42? Try a 40. Still got room to move? Try on a 38. When you put on a size that’s definitely too small, go back up a step. That’s your suit jacket.
Your Chest: With the jacket buttoned, the lapels should lie flat on your chest. If they bow out, you need a different size or a different brand. The modern Harioms way is to keep the lapels moderately narrow. We like a slim tie, slim lapels, and a small-collar dress shirt, so everything is in sync. For the record, the rule of thumb on lapel size goes like this: Big, wide lapels are for alpha men and skinny lapels are for slick rock-’n’-rollers. Generally speaking, the rest of us should fall somewhere in between.
Around Your Torso: With the jacket buttoned, slide your thumb between the button and your gut. If your thumb is snug, good. If it's a little loose, you’ll need to have your tailor take the jacket in a bit in the back.
Your Arms: They should hug your actual arms, closely following your natural lines, and stop in time to show a half-inch of shirt cuff. But don't worry too much about the length or width while you’re at the store: Any decent tailor can sort out both the length and any excess bagginess. Just make sure you have your tailor take a careful look once you’ve bought the suit. Most guys—and many tailors—don’t consider whether they should have the arms of a suit slimmed down. They almost always should.
Your Pants: Fasten your pants at your natural waist (about an inch below your navel). Too loose? You know what to do: Talk to your tailor. One more oft-misunderstood/neglected step: If there’s too much fabric through the leg (i.e., if you can grab a fistful), ask a tailor to taper your pants. It’ll create a cleaner, slimmer line like those you see in the pages of our fine magazine. These days, we want our suit pants to fit like our jeans, and the key to that look is a tapered leg.
Your Pant Hems Most suits will come with long, unfinished hems. Get them tailored to hover just above your shoes, or right on top of your shoes—no longer. And don’t be afraid to ask if the store will do it gratis.