The Philosophy of a Good Fit

A carefully gathered getup is worthless if the elements don’t fit. When wanting to look your best, fit is king. In our new series we explore the methods of ensuring all your clothes, from your suit to your belt fit your body.


The most important aspect of clothing is certainly how it fits the body. It doesn’t matter if the label of that excellent $3000 suit says “Isaia” when it looks as if you borrowed it from your father’s closet. Quality of materials, thickness, texture, and even the color of a garment pale in comparison to a garment’s fit.


Regardless of your body type, fit is always of supreme importance. Some people think that if you are heavy then you should just avoid tight clothing, but you also need to keep in mind that unnecessarily large clothing is unflattering. For those of you that are overweight or not particularly athletic, the fit of clothing is important so as not to make you appear heavier than you are. If you are thin, you can use fit, layering and drape to achieve a particular style. Even if you are of average weight, you can use your clothing to make you appear slimmer, larger or stronger. In all of these cases, you want to avoid clothing that is too tight or too loose; too long or too short. A proper fit enhances all body types.

The fit of your clothing is also important in emphasizing certain aspects of your body. You might want to emphasize the length of your legs or the width of your chest. Additionally, you can use the fit of your clothing to draw the eye upwards toward your face, or to emphasize a particular garment.

If you are of normal height or taller you can use fit to emphasize certain aspects of your body, such as the ‘V’ shape of the stereotypically masculine chest. Even if you have an abnormal body type, like a long torso or long legs, the way your clothing is placed can make your legs appear longer or shorter. Examples include using a boot-tuck to effectively shorten your legs, or using a V-neck shirt to elongate your stature. Even if you are short, you can use your clothing to make you appear taller. For instance, you can get pants with a longer rise, and use cropped jackets.

However, how does one determine a good fit?

Aspects of a good fit

The most important aspects of fit concern the proximity of the garment to the body, the comfort of the garment, and the placement of features such as seams and cuffs.


The word that best describes the desirable fit is “slim”. No matter whether you are short, tall, thin or thick; you will want a slim look. Slim here does not mean tight or skinny, it means wearing garments that lay close to your figure. You don’t want to emphasize your body’s every curve and bump, but you also want to avoid looking like a sheet-draped beanbag. The articles should stay close to your natural shape. Although your outfit should stay close to your figure, there should be room enough that normal movement is easy. There is no reason that well-fitting clothing should make your daily life difficult.


In addition to slimness, an important aspect of fit concerns where the garment lies on the body, especially pertaining to seams, buttons, and other details. We can criticize if a garment is too long or too short in places independent of slimness. For instance, a garment may fit snugly, but if the sleeves are too long then it still does not fit well.


Additionally, after you ensure that a garment is slim and properly placed, it must be comfortable. If the garment is sufficiently slim and well-measured then it is certainly more likely to be comfortable, but one should note the significance of fabric in motion. Just because something looks good in a mirror or a picture doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be functional or comfortable in day to day life. Make sure that normal activities aren’t constrained, and that you have good range of motion.

If you keep these tenets in mind, you will be well on your way to developing a great wardrobe. Of course, it is important to keep in mind that although fit is imperative, it is not the only factor when choosing clothing. While browsing, make sure you also consider texture, patterns, color, construction and fabric quality.

Additionally, don’t stress or overwhelm yourself! Your outfit doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect, and sometimes a perfect outfit can actually be a bit boring. Feel free to add some character to your outfits; your clothes should not only fit your body, they should also fit your personality and your style.

Stay tuned for the rest of our series on fit, where we examine the tenets of proper fit for jackets, pants, shirts, and accessories!


Nicholas Taverna is a style enthusiast, a writer, and a Financial Planner with Royal Alliance Associates. He works out of his office in Port Jefferson, New York and Brooklyn, New York. In his spare time, he also dabbles in tennis and gourmet cooking.

  • http://www.itsamiracletheyaintdeadyet.com Kenneth

    great piece — but what about guys with more muscle than the average guy? i can’t afford a custom suit, but suits for guys with broad shoulders and big backs/chests are designed for guys who have big stomachs too. i don’t. and don’t get me started on pants, whether they be jeans, shorts or dress pants, they are always a little larger in the waist to fit over my legs.

    • Mike

      All suits should be altered when purchased, it can be done affordably

    • Mike W

      Agreed. It’s one thing to get a suit tailored, but I don’t have the funds to pay for every other shirt / jeans / shorts etc to be custom made.

      Buying clothes off the rack is getting harder and harder as I find my shirt size may be anything from M to XXXL; even if I buy something that doesn’t strain against my chest, I’m amazed when a XXXL short has sleeves designed for someone with noodle-arms.

      Likewise buying jeans shouldn’t mean I have to go up to a ridiculously high waistsize just to get my legs into them.

      • harry

        Mike – I dont know I managed to get a fantastically priced blazer that fit perfectly off the rack. Just takes patience and an open mind about what designer it is, I tried on atleast two dozen to find one that fit and was a style I could match.

        • Mike W

          I’m sorry I gave the impression that I was not making any effort at all….

          I could give a flying f*** about which designer it is, but I think most of the name designers seem to think men have the physique of an anorexic twink now.

  • Brandon M

    My problem with “slim fit” shirts is that when I sit down, my belly decides to test the tensile strength of the buttons and looks awful. However, classic fit tends to billow. I cannot win.

  • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

    Kenneth and Brandon, You both face a common problem: The one size fits most…doesn’t. Your options are to 1) Find a retailer who makes a size that does fit and go to town 2) Find a size that fits in several important areas and then have it tailored for the others 3) Buy MTM or custom.

    There are other options like the military tuck, which we’ll be cover in a future edition of the series, but that won’t help overly-billowy shirts.

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  • David

    I agree that it is too high, and too tight.
    As to too long, yes but it is close to correct.
    I disagree that it is too long, just learn how to tuck in your shirt!

  • http://www.itsamiracletheyaintdeadyet.com Kenneth

    brandon — for billowy, try dress shirts made by Paul Frederick. the shirts are longer (by about 2.5″) which prevents the billowing in the back.

  • Jano

    I think the length is fine if you are tucking the shirt in. The stomach area looks a ‘tad’ tight, but not far off.

  • Nick

    Brandon, I have a similar problem with my larger belly yet normal chest. With dress shirts, Van Heusen has always been great for me. They’re clothing is aimed at older businessmen, so the styling and fit is a bit more conservative than other places.

  • Andrew James

    You most certainly forgot to provide advice about crotch height. You may even know a term for size in that area on pants and shorts that I don’t.

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  • Tj

    Great site! Well written articles that are clear and unambiguous . I also love the illustrations however you didnt show an example pic of a good fit!

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  • jen

    Great post! Fit is so important and something that so many find so difficult to master. The more posts like this one the better. Great information laid out in an easy to read manner

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  • Roger

    it”s called RISE

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  • http://hqraja.com/ Haroon Q. Raja

    Looking forward to the rest of this piece.

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