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.

A button up shirt too tight and too long


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.

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

Nicholas Taverna

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.