How Your Suit Should Fit: A Visual Guide

How a Suit Should Fit

The Tie Bar Blank Label Allen Edmonds Indochino

How Your Suit Should Fit – Essentials


Be conscious of the ties you'll be wearing with your suit. Lapel width should correspond to tie width.


To avoid a boxy silhouette your suit should dart in at the waist. Even on a pre-darted suit, you should have your jacket tailored to fit your body. The thinnest point should be around the jacket's main button.

Sleeve Length:

The back of the sleeve should just meet the bump on the pinky side of your hand, and should allow 1/2″ of shirt cuff to show.


Flat front shown here, but if you opt for pleats, you must wear your pants on your waist, not on your hips, otherwise you risk bulging.


A classic look and a matter of preference. Cuffs look great with pleats. No cuff shown above.


When you try a jacket on, you are really checking to see if it fits in the shoulders. It is one of the few alterations that is too expensive to be worth it. The seam should rest naturally on your shoulder. Lean against a wall: if your jacket touches first, it's too big.


If your armholes are too low, your whole suit will move when you stick your arm out. Opt for the modern, less boxy high armhole cut.


If your buttons look like they're pulling, the jacket is too small. If you pull the bottom of the V straight out, it shouldn't come out more than about 2 inches. If it does, it's too big.

Jacket Length:

With your arms at your side, curl your fingers up. Your jacket should be resting in your hand. A suit jacket should cover most of your pants zipper and all of your butt.

Pant Leg:

Suit pants will rarely fit off the rack. They're cut long, intended to be tailored. Opt for a modern, straighter cut that will create a sleek silhouette, instead of a frumpy, baggy one.


Where the pants fold when they meet your shoe is called the “break.” The pants should have one break at the bottom, and the leg should stop halfway down your shoe. This is known as a “medium break.” While a personal preference, short is high fashion, and is hard to pull off, and too much break can look baggy.

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.

  • Dennis

    I just picked up a light grey suit, when I was trying my jacket on I heard a guy say “I like my the sleeves of my jacket to hang to my knuckles.” I’m in Florida and every time I say I want my cuff to show people look at me crazy!

  • Andrew

    Hey Dennis, that’s nuts! Even if someone liked a baggier fit, I don’t know why anyone would want it that long.

  • Ryan

    Great visual! Any thoughts on how low or high the rise of the pants should be?

  • Andrew

    Hey Ryan, Thanks glad you like it! That’s a great question. The rise should be determined by the cut of the pants. For example, pants with pleats should sit higher than a modern, lower cut pant you might see at a place like Express. Suit pants aren’t like jeans, they need to be worn at the intended height to look great. One way you can tell is by making sure there isn’t a lot of sag in the crotch, if it seems like the crotch on the pants goes down past where it needs to, the pants were likely cut to sit higher than they’re sitting. Conversely if you’re getting bunching in the pockets, the pants are probably sitting too high.

    Your tailor can also help you position them correctly as he’s marking you up. As noted in the guide, all suits should be tailored. If you’re buying off the rack, finding one that fits like the suit above is like winning the lottery, it can happen, but it’s by chance.

  • http://N/A Scott


    As a heavier guy, I find that the dart doesn’t really work for me. Any suggestions on the fit around the midsection for bigger guys?

    Also, I’ve found that the leaning shoulder test for the suit coat is difficult to gauge at times. Is there another way to see if it fits correctly?



  • Andrew

    Hey Scott,

    A suit can be be tailored so that it has shape and still provides the necessary room. Some folks recommend bigger guys, specifically ones whose midsection is bigger than their chest, to opt for the classic American “sack” style. This is a fuller, straighter cut, but should still be tailored for the owner’s body. (“Sack” in this case doesn’t refer to the suit looking like a sack, but rather the method of construction.)

    For the shoulders, visually, your arm shouldn’t be defined in the sleeves in which case it is too small. Also, if your shoulder muscles extend beyond the shoulder of the jacket, it’s too small. If the shoulder sags, or if the arm jets back in towards your arm the jacket is too big. The goal is to create a straight line, straight down from your shoulder.

    There’s an old adage to keep sizing down until it’s too small and then go up one size.

    Good luck!

  • Erik

    Collar gap looks bad guys. One of the hardest things to tailor and one of the easiest ways to throw off a good suit. Not to be a dick, but you guys really should have caught that.

  • Andrew

    Erik, while collar gap is important (I should have included it) what I believe you’re speaking of in the picture is just shadow. As the gent in the photo, I promise there’s no collar gap on that jacket in person. 🙂

  • anotherjames

    Haha! Yeah, looks like a shadow. But yes, collar gap adds to the hand-me-down look of any suit. But if the shoulders fit correctly, then it ought to take care of itself.

  • Austin

    Hahahaha is he seriously wearing a grey suit with brown shoes!?

    Burgundy, my friend, burgundy.

  • Andrew

    Austin, “Is he”? No but I am, friend. And if you’re not, you’re holding yourself back.

    See for yourself

  • Joe

    Collar gap?

  • Austin

    Yes, Andrew, I’ll trust the article about pairing brown with grey that also states “You can’t go wrong with a black suit!”

  • Andrew

    I wrote that one too, glad you agree with me! 🙂

  • MaxMan

    Nice artice Andrew. I would also add to the cuff, ” if you are wearing heavier wools, tweeds, etc., you should opt for a cuff IMHO becasue it will help with the drape of the pant and with a substantial material like the tweed it looks so much more better”. But i do understand this is a beginners guide, and as such its still great.

    While i do agree that with you that grey goes with brown, something about your particular outfit does cater to Austin’s point. It would certainly look nicer if perhaps a different tie was utilized in this picture. That darker tie IMO should be accesorized with a darker shoe…but to each thier own, and your look still outweighs any commoner…

  • Dan

    The comments about the shoes and ties, might be “correct” but is way outside the scope of this article, and Primer in general, really. I think if 90% of guys dressed like the picture above, they would be much better dressed than they used to be.

  • Andrew

    I would actually tend to agree with Dan. We’re trying to make everyday guys think about their style a little differently and give them some options and inspiration to up their game. There will always be sartorialists far more knowledgeable than I who will have a snide comment about something that doesn’t fit right or the color is wrong or whatever. But that’s not what I’m trying to do, I’m not really talking to them directly. And I agree, if most guys wore the above outfit vs the baggy suit they used to wear and their Target loafers, they’ll be getting nothing but compliments.

    I definitely always appreciate extra tips and advice, anything that can help a reader reach his goals, but they’re most helpful when the intent is taken into consideration.


    This is awesome! What a great visual guide. I’ve been wanting to get hubs a suit, but had not idea how to go about it, and what was “right”.

    Thanks so much! You’re the best!

  • Ed McFarland

    How about the which works better for the look, suspenders or a belt?

  • Steven

    Ed, Don’t wear a belt with a suit. It breaks up the line of the suit. Wear braces (suspenders) if you need them, but that should only be necessary if you have a larger waist.

  • Jinx

    Blue tie? BLACK SHOES!

    Those “brown” shoes are JARRING to the eye, especially on your boats, Andrew! You want your shoes to help camoflage the negative aspects. Unless you are sending a message about the hidden bits….

    • bryclops

      I could not disagree more with everything you’ve said, particularly your authoritative tone. His feet look proportional to me, the shoes look fine with the light/medium grey suit, and if you’ve heard somebody spout the rule that a blue tie requires black shoes, know that modern custom flies in the face of any such nonsense (

  • Andrew


    Thanks for the comment. Brown shoes and blue ties are a classic prep look. I’ve never heard that rule, and would disagree. (Obviously by my choice for the get up in the photo haha.)

    Don’t hold yourself too rigidly to things like that. Every time I wear this combination I get compliments from men and women alike. However it may not be for you, in which case I’m sure you’ll look great in your black shoes too! 🙂

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  • Max

    About the guy who wanted his sleeves to hang to his knuckles: I bet he spent most of his time wearing his father’s suits, especially as a kid.

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  • Josh


    The problem I have with suits it the pulling in the back. I have a wide body with a skinny middle and broad shoulders. How much can it pull in the back to avoid $75 a suit to have just the shoulders altered?

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  • Jake

    hey andrew, If i’m getting my jacket sleeves tailored to a button cuff, how can i account for a french cuff shirt? if i shorten the sleeves to the right length, the french cuffs always seem to pop out way further then …

  • Jake


    • Andrew


      If your cuffs are pulling out too much, you can leave the jacket longer. It’s also possible the sleeves on your shirt are too long. French cuffs with a slim-sleeved suit can be tricky just because they take up more room, and there are more things to get stuck on, or anchored outside the jacket sleeve.

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  • David

    One quick question. How should the lapel sit on the chest? It seems as though there is some puffing out (so to speak) on many of my suits (mostly cut pretty slim). Thanks!

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