How Should a Suit Fit?

But for real, how should a suit fit? Check out our examples of too big, too tight, and just right fits, and learn what to look for when you try on a suit.

Photography by @brogenjessup.

When you try on a suit or tuxedo, your confidence level skyrockets. You see fireworks, you hear Souza—all in all, it’s pretty good. But it’s also easy to get caught up and ignore how a suit should fit. It’s time to stop settling for “good enough”—you deserve better, and we can show you how to get it.

Learning how a suit should fit is all about knowing where to look. Whether you’re having trouble dialing in your suit pant length, or don’t know where to start with your suit jacket fit, we’ll show (and tell) you what to look for, when it’s bad, and when it’s perfect.

Table of Contents

How should a dress shirt fit?
Dress Shirt Neck Fit & Sizing
Shirt Waist Fit
Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

How should dress pants fit?
Suit Pant Waist
Suit Pant Seat (aka That Booty)
Suit Pant Length & Inseam

How should a suit jacket fit?
Suit Jacket Chest & Shoulder Fit
Suit Jacket Length
Suit Sleeve Length

How Should a Dress Shirt Fit?

The dress shirt fit has a lot of moving pieces—the neck, the body, the sleeves and cuffs. Getting them to work together is a balancing act, but it’s worth the effort.

Dress Shirt Neck Fit & Sizing

Your dress shirt neck is the most important part of ensuring your shirt fits—the neck size impacts all of the proportions of a dress shirt. (Reminder: the neck size is the first number on the shirt tag.)

dress shirt neck fit
For the perfect fit, one to two fingers should fit between your neck and collar.

When you button up the collar of a dress shirt, one or two fingers should fit comfortably between your neck and the collar. The collar shouldn’t be so tight that it’s a struggle to fasten the top shirt button. On the other hand, go too loose with your neck sizing and the collar will hang off your neck like a horseshoe ringer, causing your collar and neckwear to sag.

If your shirt neck is too tight, and the body also fits too tight (more on that below), you’ll definitely need to go up either a half or a full neck size. If the collar is just slightly tight but the rest of the shirt fits you well, you might just add a collar extender to your shirt—a simple, discreet way to create room in the neck while maintaining the overall fit. Put on your tie and nobody will know.

Shirt Waist Fit & Shirt Body

The most common fit problem with a dress shirt is when you have a lot of extra shirt fabric billowing out of your pants—a telltale sign your dress shirt is too big in the waist. Likewise, you don’t want to feel trapped in this shirt, like the buttons might pop if you inhale deeply (namaste). If you’ve got room to move without the waistline fabric billow, you’ve got it right.

dress shirt waist fit
Too big, perfect, too tight.

So if you’ve already got the neck size right, how can you improve the fit of the body and waist? A simple fix would be trying a slim fit shirt for less fabric, or one with more generous body sizing—typically “regular” or “classic” fit—for a little more wiggle room.

Another common problem: you’re just too jacked. If you have a pronounced, V-shaped torso, it’s common to find that slim fit shirts can’t contain your frame up top, but classic or regular fit shirts are baggy in the midsection. You’re likely a candidate for a custom-made shirt, or at the very least, you should get comfortable talking to a tailor—learn how here.

Dress Shirt Sleeve Length

When you check the fit, be sure to keep your arms down at your sides for accuracy. The right dress shirt sleeve length should hit right at your wrist—just covering the little nubby wrist bone above your hand. Too much shirt cuff looks sloppy, like a kid wearing an adult robe. Showing no cuff at all, while acceptable, will totally hide your cufflinks. Shame.

dress shirt sleeve length
Too long, perfect, too short.

When paired with the proper suit jacket fit, a small amount of shirt cuff should peek out from under your suit jacket sleeve (about ¼” to ½” of shirt cuff is ideal.) Behold: a tiny blank canvas for silk knots or a set of cufflinks to shine.

Learn more about dress shirt sleeve sizes here.

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How Should Dress Pants Fit?

Resist the urge to compare dress pants to your favorite pair of jeans—they aren’t meant to fit the same way—and pay special attention to the length.

Suit Pant Waist

If you think you know how your suit pant waist should fit… you probably know. Dress pants and suit pants are designed to sit up a little higher on the waist than casual pants or denim, and they often fit a little more snug for their waist size. When checking the waist fit, it’s a good idea to wear a dress shirt that fits you well.

If the waist is too loose, try a belt. Suspenders will give you that anti-gravity pants vibe, accomplishing the same thing, but don’t wear suspenders and a belt. If this is a tuxedo, it won’t come with belt loops—more likely, you’ll find waist adjusters built in to the pants, or again, wear suspenders if that’s you. If the waist is too tight, you’ll need a larger size.

Suit Pant Seat (aka That Booty)

Generally, we should all be able to tell you have a complete set of glutes, but we shouldn’t be able to positively I.D. your buns in a lineup based on this single encounter. The CliffsNotes version of “dat ass,” if you will.

Unlike a slim pair of casual pants or denim, the suit pant seat, thighs, and hips should not bunch up, or cause the fabric to pull. If you have bulging pant pockets (not a euphemism) or the classic wedgie, the seat is definitely too tight. The best test of the seat fit? Do a little dance to make sure you have room to operate when the beat drops. We are serious—so serious that we put it in the video above, and you just know that wasn’t cheap.

Solution: If you’re in a slim fit pant, switch to a classic or regular version to get more room in the seat and thigh of the dress pants.

Suit Pant Length & Inseam

Sometimes suit pants will come without a designated inseam length, with the expectation you’ll have them tailored to the perfect suit pant length. If your pant size has a second number, that’s the inseam length—literally the length of the inner seam of your pant legs. (Whoa.)

This is where your personal preference comes into play. Some people, particularly those with a very traditional style, prefer a big “break” (break is the way the fabric rests and folds on the top of the shoe). Some break is fine, but if you want a modern look, wear your pants with no break. For a “no break” look, the fabric should just touch the top of your shoe without folding.

dress pant length inseam
Too long, perfect break, too short.

Some things aren’t really up for debate: having multiple folds of extra pant fabric sitting on your shoes is not a good look.

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How Should a Suit Jacket Fit?

You’re on the home stretch, but for many, getting the suit jacket dialed in is the biggest challenge. Be sure to wear a dress shirt that fits as you try on suit jackets—you’d be surprised how different a jacket can feel with an extra millimeter of fabric in the mix. The advice below also applies to fitting sport coats and blazers.

Suit Jacket Chest & Shoulder Fit

It’s more difficult to describe a good fit than a bad one, so let’s focus on the signs of a jacket that’s not working. For context, the suit jacket sizing includes a number for chest size (usually even numbers between 34-58, though some brands offer odd sizing as well), and a letter or two describing the jacket length. For now, we’ll talk about the fit of the chest sizing.

suit jacket fit
Too big, perfect, too tight.

The lapels of your jacket are supposed to lie flat against your chest, even on a slim fit suit. If they billow out awkwardly when the top suit button is fastened, your jacket is too tight and you’ll probably need a larger chest size. Next check the suit jacket shoulder—it should end naturally at the point where your shoulder becomes your arm. If the shoulders of the jacket hang out past your actual shoulders, or the shape of your chest or waist is completely hidden, your jacket is too big—try a smaller chest size.

Suit Jacket Length

Jacket length sizes come in extra short (XS), short (S), regular (R), long (L), and extra long (XL), and this size will determine how long the jacket body and sleeves run. These lengths aren’t always consistent from brand to brand, so you might be a short in one and a regular in another. You should also keep in mind that sleeve length can often be adjusted, while the body of the jacket is much more difficult (and expensive) to alter. For more on suit sizes, check out our guide here.

suit jacket length
Too long, perfect, too short.

The body of the jacket should end around the middle of your seat (booty, buns hun, bottom). If the jacket hangs down past your seat, robbing admirers of a fleeting glimpse of that rump roast, it’s too long. You’ll need a shorter jacket length. But remember, we said fleeting glimpse—not a peach emoji burned into their retinas for all time. If your entire backside is on display, you need a longer length jacket.

Suit Sleeve Length

The sleeves are pretty easy for a tailor to adjust if need be, so once you’ve found the right jacket body length, check the sleeves. They should end at your nubby wrist bone.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this section, you should try on suit jackets with a dress shirt that fits you well. If your jacket sleeves are the right length, you should see ¼” to ½” of shirt cuff peeking out under the jacket sleeve. If the shirt cuff is completely covered, the suit jacket sleeve is a little too long. If you can see the whole cuff, the jacket sleeves are too short.

suit jacket sleeve length
The perfect suit jacket sleeve length.

Whether too short or too long in the sleeve, if the rest of the jacket fits well, head to a tailor and have them adjust the sleeves to the perfect length for your arms. If you’re renting a suit or tuxedo, check to make sure which alterations are allowed.

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Find Your Fit, Your Way

If you know what to look for, there’s no reason to settle for a bad suit fit. But enough with the hypotheticals—it’s time to try one on. We know how important getting the perfect fit is, so we offer three ways to find your sizes.

Looking for a full style consultation? Visit one of our showrooms to see our collection and find your fit. Have your eye on a particular suit or tux, and like to DIY? Get a free home try-on delivered to your door. Want the full rundown on suit sizing? Check out our guide to suit sizes, or simply answer a few simple questions to find your sizes now.