Does this jacket fit me? Let’s train our eyes

Dear reader,


We were born with ready-to-wear. And it will follow us to the grave — certainly.

Bespoke used to be the norm. Now, it’s unaffordable for 99.7% of people.

Why can’t we wealthy Europeans afford to have a fellow National cut and see a made-to-measure garment for us?

We mean, our grand-parents could afford it. But we no longer can.

Tailors aren’t the exception. In France, we can barely afford to have any Frenchman work for us on a regular basis.

French cleaner? Forget about it.

French plumber? Brace yourself for the bill.

Despite our fingerprint-recognizing smartphones, high tech electric cars and heat-moulded ski boots… our purchasing power has decreased. The official purchasing power index should count the number of hours we can afford to have our neighbour work for us.

We suppose we can blame the tax and regulations.

Today, if you want to look good, you’re expected to know how a jacket should fit.

Did we forget to mention? It’s impossible to trust the shop assistants these days. Shop owners can’t afford more than under-qualified shop assistants.

This would have seemed unthinkable to our grand-parents. « Tailoring, plumbing, interior decoration? Just let the professionals take care of it. »

Today, that’s impossible. Most people can’t afford a qualified craftsman. So we have to learn everything ourselves : tailoring, gardening, plumbing.

So let’s get cracking. We have a lot of catching up to do!

First detail to spot: is the armpit small enough?

Huge armpits are the #1 problem with jackets. It’s easy to judge: try the jacket on. Try to lift your arm sideways. If your movement is strongly restricted, the jacket is ill-fitted. This is expensive to fix with alterations, so just walk away.

Be mindful that a jacket will never give you the freedom of movement of a t-shirt. But, wearing a jacket, you will be in situations where you’ll have to give someone a hug. So just make sure that the jacket doesn’t get too much in the way.

If the armpit of your jacket follows the circumference of your shoulder nicely, now look at the length of the jacket.

Getting the length just right

Jacket length is often a matter of fashion. But you shouldn’t get carried away by trends. Otherwise you’ll regret your purchase down the road.

Ideally, a jacket should cover your butt entirely, and stop right where your thighs begin.

Longer than this, and you look like a boy who borrowed his father’s suit.

If the jacket stops where your butt begins, you’ll look too young, and like a fashion victim. And that’s counter productive…

… Because most of the time, we wear a jacket because we mean business. We want to be taken seriously. And jacket length isn’t something you can easily alter…

Sure enough, it’s acceptable for women to wear shorter jackets. But men should avoid it.

In our experience, you’ll usually find jackets that are too short. Blame it on the fashion. Sure, it might be hard to find a jacket that’s long enough… but let the jacket cover at least half of your butt.

With the armpit and length out of the way, we can cover the arms.

Pay attention to arm width

Most jackets will have arms that are too wide.

Again, this makes you look like a child in adult clothes.

The jacket shouldn’t hug your arms. It should just look proportioned (for lack of a better description).

Again, you should get it right because it’s difficult to alter.

Look at the shoulder width and the shoulder padding style

The shoulder width comes only now, because it’s something that you certainly already pay attention to. Plus shop assistants are usually trained to advise you well on this.

The ideal jacket should not fall over your shoulder. It shouldn’t either hug your shoulder so much that your muscle protrudes through the material.

The topic of the shoulder pad is often overlooked. Same as before, it’s tough to alter.

Shoulder pads can be structured (bulkier) or soft (more discreet). Italian tailors favour soft shoulder pads.

In our opinion, structured shoulder pads are often sloppier. Most of the time, they make you look amateurish. This is why we advise against them. Just lift weights if you’re ashamed of your frame.

Let the jacket collar hug your neck

This one is tricky to notice because it’s behind your back.

So, the collar of your jacket should be stuck against your shirt collar. There shouldn’t be any gap. Same, when you lift up your arms, there shouldn’t be a huge gap behind your neck.

The other problem might be that the neck of your jacket is too tight. You should feel that it’s pushing against your neck. But the other way to notice it is how the material falls in between your shoulders. If it’s making waves, it means the jacket is too small.

Most people get the fit around the belly why (and how to avoid any mistakes)

We know you will have paid attention to how the jacket lies around your waist and around your back.

But most people make this mistake : They try the jacket on and they immediately button it. This increases the chances of buying a jacket that’s slightly too big.

Yes, it will look just right buttoned-up. But how often do you wear it buttoned-up?

Hardly ever.

Whenever you’re seated, you will unbutton it — that’s etiquette.

Whenever you’re dancing, you will unbutton it to allow for more freedom of movement.

So don’t be afraid to buy a jacket that’s a bit tight when buttoned-up.

Ignore the shop assistant who might button the jacket right away for you. Leave it open. Check how it looks and how it makes you feel. That’s what matters.

Make sure altering the sleeve length won’t be an issue

The ideal sleeve length should be to the round bone on your wrists. No further.

Though your shirt should extend further: down to where your forearm meets your hand.

If it’s not right, you can fix it later. Sleeve length is the easiest alteration on a jacket.

However… adding or removing a lot of fabric will offset the button placement on the sleeve. This can end up looking funny.

Cheap jackets will have fake buttonholes, so it’s easy to move the button along. But when your button holes are functional, moving them requires shortening the whole sleeve at the shoulder end. Bear that in mind.

With all these details, you’re ready to go and buy a ready-to-wear jacket that is as close to perfection as possible.

And if you’re buying made-to-measure, you’ll also be able to check that your tailor is doing the right job for you.



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Jamie Larson