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How to Properly Fit a Suit Jacket or Sport Coat

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It bears repeating: Fit is the most important thing when it comes to tailored clothing. A man will make a poor impression in even the most expensive suit if it doesn’t fit properly, while a man dressed in a modestly priced suit — but one that fits him perfectly — can look like a million bucks.

It’s precisely because we know how important fit is to looking and feeling your best that we based our company slogan on it. And it’s also why you can exchange any item at no charge until you find the fit that’s best for you. Learn more about finding your perfect suit with less hassle, in our suit purchasing guide.

Still, you can’t expect something off-the-rack to fit perfectly, which is why the best-dressed men always have a tailor at close hand to make adjustments.

So when shopping for suits, sport coats and blazers at Paul Fredrick, what should you expect to fit right out of the package, and what can be adjusted for a more custom fit?

It’s actually pretty simple.

The most critical fit point of a suit jacket is the shoulder area, by which we mean the side points of the shoulders and the shoulder blade area across the back. Jacket sleeves should fall in a straight line down the sides of the shoulders. If there’s puckering or dimpling, with a jacket’s shoulders sticking out an inch on each side, then the jacket is too big and you need to go down a size.

The other critical fit point is the back of the neck area. You want a jacket to hug the back of your neck, not gape out an inch or two. It should also lie flat across the shoulder blade area with no horizontal ripples.

Do everything possible to ensure you get the best fit possible in these areas. Adjustments can be made, but they are a costly and major overhaul. Moreover, they should only be done by a master tailor, not an alterations generalist at your neighborhood dry cleaner. The shoulder area is a jacket’s fulcrum, the point from which it hangs on the body, and it must be in balance. Improper alterations here can create more problems than they solve: You may get the back to lie flat, but now the chest puckers out.

The only two alterations that can really be done without upsetting a jacket’s structure are fortunately easy and relatively inexpensive. You can have your sleeves shortened to show shirt cuff (just make sure the tailor re-sews the buttons under the lining, not through the lining, a shortcut that can create puckering in the sleeve area), and you can have the waist taken in for a more sophisticated and tailored look. About an inch on each side is the maximum you can come in without changing the alignment of a jacket.

Of course, if you’ve got a slim waist you want to show off, why not just opt for our slim fit suit separates or slim fit blazer?
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