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Nothing in men’s style matters as much as fit. A suit made by artisans from the world’s finest wool will look worse than one from the high street if the legs are too long or the jacket’s too tight to button up. “Bad fit doesn’t just mean you have to keep pulling your trousers up,” says Thread stylist Freddie Kemp. “It’s also unflattering. It creates an odd, awkward silhouette that never looks good.”

A lot of men mistake ‘fit’ for ‘size’. “But they’re different things,” says Freddie. “It’s more about how well something conforms to your body. A ‘large’ sweatshirt, for example, is cut differently by every brand. One version might fit because it’s similar to your shape, while another – which is technically the same size – could be too big in the arms but too small in the chest.”

To tell whether an item will fit like a glove, or like a sack, you first need to be familiar with your own shape. “Your body changes as you get older,” says Freddie. “Is your chest the same? Your waist? Grab a tape measure – it’s a five-minute check that can make a huge difference.” Then quiz your stylist; they’re intimate with the fits of every brand, so will be able to tell you which are right for you – and which aren’t.

But the most important thing is knowing what great fit actually looks like. “A lot of guys have an image in their head, but it’s not quite right,” says Freddie. Clothes look best when they echo the shape of the body underneath. When there’s too much fabric – or not enough – an outfit looks like it’s fighting the man inside, rather than flattering him.

“You shouldn’t compromise,” says Freddie. “Great fit makes everything look better, so don’t just put up with stuff that isn’t quite right. Try on different brands and styles to figure out what suits your body best. Your limbs are different to everyone else’s and you’ll have specific things you want to mask or accentuate.” Let the guide below be your cheat sheet to perfect fit, every time.

The perfect blazer fit

How a blazer should fit

Photographed: Paul Smith blazer (£530); Paul Smith jumper (£150); MVP shirt (£26); Paul Smith chinos (£125)

Key areas

  1. Shoulder: the fabric should sit flat on your shoulder and be flush with your arm – without bulging – where it meets your shoulder. If it droops, size down.
  2. Chest: when you close the jacket, you should be able to slot two fingers between your shirt and blazer. If you can’t, it’s too small; if you can add a third, it’s too big.
  3. Cuffs: just below your wrist bone is about right, to leave a half-inch of shirt cuff showing.
  4. Waist: even if you don’t think you have a waist, a good-fitting jacket will give the impression you do by nipping in just below your belly button and flaring out around your hips. Look for daylight between your torso and arms.
  5. Hem: about halfway down your buttocks is good. Shorter guys should go for something more cropped, to lengthen their legs; taller guys can do the opposite.

Freddie says: “If you can fold your arms comfortably, that’s a good sign that your blazer fits. The shoulders are the most important thing; everything else can be tailored. And it should be – a jacket will rarely fit perfectly first time because men’s bodies are so different. It won’t cost much, but will make your jacket look exponentially better.”

What can be tailored? Almost everything apart from the shoulders, but the most important ones are sleeve length, hem length and waist suppression.

The perfect shirt fit

How a shirt should fit

Photographed: Reiss shirt (£95); Jigsaw trousers (£130); Jigsaw tie (£50)

Key areas

  1. Neck: if you can fit two fingers in while it’s buttoned up, your shirt fits. Any more and you should size down.
  2. Shoulder: as with a blazer, you’re looking for flat fabric along your shoulder and for the sleeve to be kissing the skin on your upper arm. Overhang, or straining fabric, means the fit is wrong.
  3. Chest: a smart shirt should sit flat on your chest, without bagginess or wrinkles from straining fabric. A casual shirt can be an inch or so looser.
  4. Waist: Ideally it should taper from your shoulders to your waist. If you’re slimmer, look for ‘tailored’ fits or darts, otherwise the excess fabric can billow. Smart shirts should also be long enough to tuck in; extra fabric at the rear will hold the shirt in place against your buttocks and stops it coming untucked.
  5. Cuffs: hitting at the the top of your thumb is about right. If the fabric accordions up your arm, the sleeve is too long.

Freddie says: “Guys often wear shirts that are too small, which can knock you out of proportion. Like with a blazer, you should have enough room to move around. Try lifting or folding your arms – if it’s not baggy, or constrictive, it probably fits.”

What can be tailored? The body can be nipped in if it’s too roomy around your waist and you can have the sleeve length adjusted.


How an overcoat should fit

Photographed: Reiss overcoat (£325); Reiss suit (£475); Reiss shirt (£95); T.M Lewin tie (£39.95)

Key areas

  1. Shoulders: Overcoats have more structure, so should sit higher on your shoulder and away from your arm to make room for the jacket underneath.
  2. Chest: There should be a couple of inches of space to fit layers, whether that’s a blazer or a sweatshirt.
  3. Cuffs: They should be longer than your blazer, reaching to around your thumb knuckle. That means your jacket and shirt are protected from the elements.
  4. Hem: A coat should be long enough to cover the jacket underneath. Around mid-thigh is the most flattering for most guys.

Freddie says: “Don’t be tempted to size up. If you wear a 42” chest blazer, you want a 42” overcoat; brands will build in the extra room for layers. Ideally it should work with just a t-shirt underneath too. If it’s too big, you need to wear a lot of layers underneath, so it’s only useful when the weather’s really cold.”

What can be tailored? The sleeves and the hem, but it will be a bit more expensive.


How jeans should fit

Photographed: Edwin jeans (£100); MVP t-shirt (£12)Oliver Sweeney belt (£99); Grenson boots (£245)

Key areas

  1. Waist: They should sit comfortably on your hips without a belt. That way, wearing one is a choice, not a necessity.
  2. Thighs: Skinny jeans can be skin-tight, but anything else should have at least an inch of room if you pinch the fabric.
  3. Ankle: Kissing the top of your shoe looks good for most guys. As a rule, they should sit slightly higher than your formal trousers. A bit of space at the ankle is always better than puddling fabric.

Freddie says: “If you can’t move in your jeans, they don’t fit. Often the hardest thing is getting something that fits in the thigh and the waist. A lot of guys will size up, when really you need a different fit: if a skinny is too tight around your legs, a slim fit is better than a skinny that’s baggy around your waist.”

What can be tailored: The hems and the waist.