Regardless if you are going for sophisticated and confident, comfortable and casual, or disheveled and youthful, your look, your appearance, your individual style is ultimately dependent on fit. If embarking on a shopping spree without a trusted friend, salesperson or a personal stylist, a full-length mirror and a discerning eye can be just as valuable. The upside is that it doesn’t take a supernatural talent, a particular style gene, or a superhero power. All it takes is investing some quality time with your clothes and paying attention to the details. It is not hard to become proficient once you understand the basics.
It is important to note clothes best flatter a fit body. Let’s be honest, when it comes to your appearance, apparel is only part of the equation. It is essential to exercise, eat appropriately, drink plenty of water, and drink alcohol in moderation. We are not all models, but six-pack abs help. Clothes look better on fit people; however, losing weight isn’t the only thing that matters. It has been quoted, “You can never be too rich or too thin,” but that is not entirely accurate. A well-proportioned physic makes selecting clothes a lot easier. These days, however, many retailers size their lines for all body shapes and sizes and thank goodness, made-to-measure is making a comeback. Fast fashion and disposable clothes are very last decade. Shop quality, and you will feel confident freely grabbing anything from your closet. If you know your size, body type and what works and what doesn’t, you will always be ready for an unplanned shopping spree at the store, and you will be duly prepared to shop confidently online when you receive an email or mobile notification of a flash sale.
Concentrating on finding better fitting clothes, we will begin with dress shirts. The collar should just touch your neck without restriction. If turning your head results in your collar to move as well, the collar is too snug. Two fingers placed comfortably inside your buttoned collar should not pull your collar to the point where you can no longer breathe.
The shoulder seam should meet the edge of your shoulder bone, the part of your shoulder that is the furthest distance away from your sternum. The body should be slim enough that your shirt does not pull more than two to three inches of fabric when you pull the shirt lightly away from your chest or your stomach. If, however, the buttons on the front placket are pulling the shirt that is a warning sign the shirt is too tight.
Sleeve length is critical; cuffs should meet the point where your palm meets your wrist, one inch below your wrist bone. The base of your thumbs should stop the cuff from moving up your hand. The cuff should be a bit looser than a properly fitting watch and never pull farther up your wrist than your watch. When bending your arm, your cuff should not move more than an inch up your wrist.
The upper arm of the shirt should be snug, but not be too tight revealing the definition of you arms, despite all the hours of training in the gym. Correspondingly, armholes should not be tight around the shoulder. A billowing sleeve or an oversized armhole is worse and will give the appearance that you have stick-thin arms, despite all the hours of lifting in the gym.
The shirt length should be long enough so that natural motion will not untuck the shirt. Dress shirts designed to tuck into your pants will have shirttails, more casual shirts designed to be untucked have flat or curved bottoms. If wearing a tucked shirt, it should remain tucked if you fold your hands behind your head. If this is not the case, the shirt is too short, or the armholes may be too large. The untucked shirt should be long enough that normal motion does not reveal your skin or undershirt. Untucked shirts should not hang lower than the bottom of your pant zipper.
When wearing a tie, it should sit under your collar, and should never be so tight to constrict your collar. The knot should vary depending on your type of collar. A wider collar, such as a spread, would call for a larger knot like as a Full Windsor. A Half Windsor knot goes better with a straight collar. Experiment to see what looks good to you. Personally, I like a Half Windsor; the Full Windsor looks dated and that you are trying too hard. While standing straight, the bottom tip of your tie should reach the top of your belt.
Blazers and suit jackets should reveal about one inch of the shirt collar. Similar to a properly fitted dress shirt, the shoulder seam on a jacket or blazer should meet the edge of the shoulder. The objective is to reduce the bunching; there should be no visible wrinkles while the arms rest easily at the sides. The sleeves should cover the wrist bone. Armholes must be sufficiently high, but not be cutting into your armpit. The arm sleeves should flow independently of the jacket with natural movement. Pulling across the chest when buttoned is a sure sign the jacket is too tight. Similarly, in the back, a jacket should not pull across the shoulders or upper back when folding your arms.
Lapel widths and style change the look; a notched lapel is less formal, but less gangster. A peak lapel looks great on a tuxedo jacket or a double-breasted jacket but can make a less formal jacket look clownish. The number of buttons is also relevant. Three button jackets are better for taller slimmer torsos, two-button or even one-button jackets are better for shorter torsos. The lower button should sit above your belly button. If the button falls below your belly button, it is too low. If a jacket waist is too tight, it will cause the bottom to flare out. The suit jacket length should cover your butt.
As for outerwear, most rules are the same as suit jackets; shoulder seams should lie on your shoulders. Do not forget; you will be wearing something under your coat, so size matters. Outerwear should be fitted and lie close to your body accentuating your shape. The sleeve should sit about an inch up your hand from your wrist, to guarantee you are not showing any sleeve from a shirt or jacket under your coat. Like a blazer, if outerwear waist doesn’t fit right the bottom could swing out like a bell.
Working our way down the body, we arrive at the pants. The first rule, no pants, shorts, jeans, or trousers should require a belt to stay on your hips. The second rule is to avoid pleats. Pleated pants make you look heavier than flat front pants, and they give the appearance, you are carrying extra weight around your stomach. Regardless if it is a casual or dress pant, a flat front pant provides the cleanest look. Casual pants can be tight, but do not overdo it; save it for the skinny jeans. Reversely, oversized casual pants should never billow; they should fit comfortably close without restricting movement. When wearing a dress or casual pant you want a single break. A break is a crease at the bottom of the pant leg created when the hem falls on the top of the shoe. If you are not wearing socks with slim chinos, then you do not want a break. Dress pants also should not be too tight or billowing but lie comfortably close to the thigh without resistance, note they will naturally drape more. A slim dress pant works well if you are slim, but be careful they do not restrict your movement; a split seam will stop you from moving anywhere except home to change. Again, when selecting a dress pant, avoid pleats; they make you look heavier. Trousers should have a single defined crease down the center of each pant leg. Dress pants look best with a break, but a smaller break. Cuffed pants can help assure you have the right size break.
Jeans are in an entirely different category. Regarding cut, jeans should be slim in the thigh and straight or tapered from the knee down. Avoid boot cut, bell-bottom or oversized baggy jeans, unless you are going to a costume party, as these are all very last century. Denim sizes can vary dramatically depending on the designer or label. There are a lot of tools to help; most stores provide denim fit guides. A sound methodology is to find a pair of jeans you like and use them as a base when comparing other choices. It is best to start with your waist size and stick with straight leg or slimmer. In the not so distant past, we use to have to select one size down for a slimmer fit and hope the jeans will stretch. Nowadays you can just choose a slimmer fit; the last thing you want is not to be able to fasten your jeans. When it comes to breaks, it is a matter of style, and depending on the style, treatment, color and feel of the denim, you can get away with a lot. Jeans are very versatile and can fit with numerous styles. Length can also vary, and the cuff can change the entire look. Cuffs can range from one to five inches depending on your style.
Last, but hardly least, shoes. Shoes say a lot, but the fit is more for comfort. The style of shoe will either make or break your look, but comfort is important too, or you will never be able to wear your shoes. When your shoes are on, you should not be able to slide a finger behind your heel into the shoe; this is not a steadfast rule, but your shoes should not be too large. You should be able to touch the front of the shoe with your toes. A closed shoe should not press on your toes. There should be no stiffness on the sides of your feet. Walking should be comfortable with little effort.
The occasion will determine the type of shoe, but a casual shoe with a suit, or dress shoe with jeans can add another dimension to your look ultimately altering the break in your pants and the style and fit of your shirt and jacket.