Men's Styling Tips

How A Suit Should Fit (Why You Look Bad In A Suit)

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Last Updated on March 7, 2023 by Morah Rose

A properly fitting suit plays a great role in your overall look.

But how should a suit fit?

The following is what we are going to be discussing in this article:

  • Why you look bad in a suit
  • How a jacket, pants, and dress shirt should fit.
  • How the jacket suit should fit on the shoulders, collar, armholes, and jacket sleeves.
  • How to know if a jacket suit is big or small for you?
  • What’s the right jacket suit length? 
  • What’s the right length fit for your trousers?
  • What’s the right width fit for your pants?

Why you look bad in a suit

Most of the time, men don’t look good in suits because of the following two reasons:

  • Not wearing the right suit for their body type

Your body type affects how well a specific suit fits you.

I’d recommend you check out this article to learn how to choose a suit for your body type (men’s suit guide).

See also: How to measure a suit size (body & garment measurements).

  • Not wearing a properly fitting suit

75% of the time, how the suit fits you affects your overall appearance. You might be wearing an expensive suit but if it doesn’t fit you right, you will definitely not look good in it.

What are the general signs of a poorly fitting suit?

A poorly fitting suit normally has lines or wrinkles on the areas where it doesn’t fit you right. Reading on to find more information on suit-fitting.

How a jacket should fit 

When it comes to jacket fit, the following are 7 key areas you will need to pay attention to when shopping for a suit:

  • The shoulders.
  • Collar and lapels.
  • Jacket back.
  • Armholes.
  • Jacket closure.
  • Jacket length. 
  • Sleeve length.

1. Jacket shoulder

When shopping for a suit, shoulder measurements are important because if the shoulder doesn’t fit you right, this may ruin your overall look.

Additionally, shoulder alteration is usually more costly than other parts of the jacket/suit.

Take Away
Make sure the shoulders fit perfectly before purchasing a suit because this is the most critical area in a jacket.

How should a jacket fit you on the shoulders?

A properly fitting jacket should not have creasing or dimpling at the shoulders when worn.


Additionally, the seam should not extend past the shoulders or be closer to your neck because that will make the jacket look big and small.

Common things that affect how the jacket fits on your shoulders

  1. Your type of shoulders

Men have three different types of shoulders and this affects how they look in a suit. (see the image below)

For instance, if you have sloped shoulders where one side is inches lower than the other, you may need to have a good tailor add some extra padding on the lower side of your shoulders.

  1. Your body type

Your body type will affect how a suit fits you, especially if you are planning to buy an off-the-rack suit.

For instance, most men who find it hard to get a good-fitting jacket are those who are more masculine (wider chest and shoulders), those who carry weight on their upper body, and also those who have a very rounded back. 

Therefore, I recommend knowing your body type to have a better idea of what to look for when fitting a jacket. 

See also:

Best Places To Find Cheap/Affordable Men’s Suits.

Read This Before Buying A Cheap Suit (Buying A Suit On A Budget).

2. Jacket closure

A good-fitting jacket closure should feel comfortable when buttoning.

Additionally, there should not be any visible fabric bunching around the buttons and across the body when the jacket is buttoned.

3. Jacket back

The jacket’s back should not have lines. It should just hang neatly.

However, you may notice very few lines underneath the armpits.

That doesn’t mean that it’s not fitting right. It is due to movement. Just make sure you can move your upper body without feeling restricted.

A poorly fitting jacket will have the following shortcomings when worn:

  • You will see lines underneath the collar, which is right at the top of your back going all the way down.

If you notice any wrinkles or lines that start from the seam going down to the center of the back, this means that the jacket is too tight.

  • If you see a collar roll at the back of the jacket

NOTE: Collar roll is the bunching up of fabric below the collar. 

Most of the time, the collar roll is usually due to square shoulders. I’d recommend you try out a different brand.

4. Armholes

A good-fitting jacket should have armholes that are tight at the armpits but have little space at the front and back without feeling too tight or looking too big.

Additionally, the jacket should not move up with you when you lift your arms up.

5. Jacket sleeves

For a good-fitting jacket, make sure there are no wrinkles on the sleeves.

If there are wrinkles on the sleeves that means that the sleeve pitch is wrong.

What’s the right sleeve length?

Well, there’s no general rule on where the sleeve length should end because different men have their own preferences, depending on how much shirt cuff they like to show when wearing the jacket.

Generally, the jacket should end just right about your wristbone as seen in the image below.

That’s because if the jacket is too high, the sleeves are going to look too short. And if it is too long, the sleeve will look too wide.

See also:

How To Look Expensive On A Budget (Men Styling Hacks).

How To Dress Like An Italian Man In Summer (How To Dress Sharp).

6. Collar and lapels of the suit

  • Collar 

A good-fitting jacket should have the collar fit snugly across the neck. It should fit well against the neck even when you’re moving or lifting your hands. 

This means that it should not have a gap at the top when you lift your hands. Additionally, it should not feel like it is too tight or too loose.

  • Lapel

The lapels of a good-fitting jacket should lay flat on your chest.

A collar gap and a lapel that does not lay flat on your chest would mean that:

a). The jacket is poorly made.
b). Your specific posture does not match that specific brand.
c). Or the jacket doesn’t fit.

7. Jacket length 

As much as it is very important to get the jacket length right, this topic is quite subjective.

There’s no general rule for the jacket length. But, if you are new to suits, I’d recommend starting off with a jacket length that ends at your thumb knuckles.

Additionally, it should cover your butt and coordinate the quarters of the jacket with the rise of your pants for a good length.

What’s the right jacket suit length 

It depends on your personal preferences and body type.

For example, some jackets will be longer in the front than at the back while some will be equal in length from front to back.

If you have a round back then a good jacket length would be one that is slightly longer at the back compared to the front.

What’s a too short or too long jacket suit?

That depends on two things: what look you want to achieve when wearing your suit and your body type.

But generally, your height and pants should help you figure out the right length of a jacket suit.

That’s because wearing a too-long jacket will make you look like you’re too short and with a longer torso. A short jacket, on the other hand, will make you look like you have longer legs and a short torso.

The jacket is equally proportional to your height and pants when its length from the back of the neck to the bottom is equal to the length between the bottom of the jacket to the bottom of your pants.

See also: Best Jeans/Denim For Your Body Type (Men’s Guide).

How to know if a jacket suit is big for you

  • It will have puddles on the shoulders and huge dents right underneath the top of the padding and your actual arm.
  • It has huge armholes, and as mentioned earlier, you will know this when you lift your hands up and see the entire jacket going up with you.
  • You will notice that the jacket has vertical lines at the front of your chest.

How to know if a jacket suit is small for you

  • The collar of the jacket will feel too tight around your neck area.
  • You will feel constricted at the back or feel too tight on your shoulders when you move your arms naturally (forward and upwards).
  • If the lapels fold up off your chest the jacket is too tight/small for you.
  • Too small armholes, which means you will get to see wrinkles on the sleeve head and feel constricted when you move your arms forward.
  • When the upper sleeves feel too tight when you move your arms. 
  • When you see x wrinkles, especially around the buttoning that means the jacket is too tight.
  • If you will see the fabric at the buttons bunching up, meaning the jacket is small for you.

How the trousers/dress pants should fit

The following are two key things that you should check when it comes to pants fit:

  • Length of the trousers.
  • Width of the trousers.

So, what’s the right length fit for your trousers?

The ideal pants length is also very subjective and will greatly depend on your personal style, preferences, and body type.

But generally, this is what you should know when it comes to too short or long trousers:

  • If a lot of the ankles and socks can be seen then it’s too short unless you are going for that look purposefully (fashion trends).
  • If there’s a lot of fabric around your ankles, the pants are too long.

What’s the right width fit for your pants?

To choose the right width for your pants, you need to really pay close attention to your body type.

For example:

  • If you are taller and slimmer, your pant leg should be narrower.
  • If you have broader shoulders or are generally a broader guy, your pant leg should be wider.

How well-fitting pants should look in a suit

Well-fitting pants will definitely flatter your overall look in a suit.

The following tips will help you know how well-fitting trousers/pants should look like:

  • The trousers should not be too tight or baggy

This means that it should have the right circumference around the bum, waist, knee, thighs, and ankle areas.

  • It should not have wrinkles or lines, especially around the waist and the seat areas when worn 

These lines/wrinkles may be vertical, horizontal, diagonal, or x lines or ripples.

  • The trousers should not have a crease in the knee area that hangs slightly to the sides (either outside or inside). 

If it does then that’s not a well-fitting trouser. For good-fitting trousers, the crease should hang straight center and in the front of the trousers.

  • You should not have a “muffin top” look. 

This is when the waistband is too tight and your belly fat hangs over.

  • When sitting, you should not see a lot of material around your thighs.
  • It should not have materials floating around or bunching around the top of the shoes. 

If this happens, then it means that the pants are either too long or too wide.

How the shirt should fit

The following tips will help you figure out if your shirt fits properly:

  1. A good-fitting shirt is one that you can comfortably stick your index finger between your neck and the collar while the top button is buttoned.

The collar should not be too tight or too loose. Otherwise, it will be uncomfortable and will give you a sloppy look.

  1. The dress shirt should end exactly at your shoulder bone

This means that the seam should hit just before your shoulders.

If you notice that the seam is closer to your neck, that will make the shirt look too small for you. If the seam seems to be extending to where your shoulders start or go beyond that, then the shirt is too big for you.

  1. You should not see any pulling of the fabric by the buttons or feel constricted when you move your upper body when the shirt is buttoned.
  1. There shouldn’t be a lot of fabric bunching up on the sides.
  1. A proper sleeve length of the shirt should hit right above your palm

If it’s higher than your wrist bone then that’s too short.

How much of your shirt cuff should show under your jacket sleeve?

For a safe look, the shirt should show just half an inch to one inch of shirt cuff.

Tie length

A too-short tie will give you a funny look while a too-long one looks sloppy.

What’s the correct tie length?

A correct tie length is one that the tip extends just past the top of your waistband or belt buckle. 

You should also note that if the tie pokes out underneath the buttoning point of the jacket then the fit is definitely off.