According to professional tennis player Arthur Ashe, “Clothes and manners do not make the man; but when he is made, they greatly improve his appearance.” That may be so, but it’s not quite as true when a man’s clothes are ill-fitting. Despite the fact that 66% of men say they feel more confident when they wear suits, there are a number of fit offenses men commit when they buy and wear one. If you want to avoid being hauled off to fashion jail, make sure you steer clear of these crimes.
- Wearing pants of the incorrect length
For many professionals, dress pants can be tricky. Trousers should be neither too long nor too short. Most men should have dress pants with a medium break, meaning that the fabric crease (near the top of your shoes) should exist but the pants should have no extra rumples around the bottom. Very few gentlemen can get away with short dress pants that show a lot of sock, and no one looks put-together with a baggy trouser.
- Neglecting to tailor your suit jacket
A telltale sign of poor fit? A jacket that’s too big. There are two key places to pay attention to here: the shoulders and the sleeves. Make sure that your suit jacket rests snugly against your shoulders, rather than having a lot of extra fabric poof. While it’s possible to tailor a jacket that’s too big in the shoulders, this alteration can be problematic. In most cases, it’s best to buy tailored suits from the start. The length of your jacket sleeves will make all the difference, too. Your sleeves should end a half-inch above your shirt sleeve. While you can tailor a sleeve that’s too long, you may be out of luck if it’s too short.
- Buying shirts that are too roomy
Men often have a tendency to buy button-down shirts that are simply too big for their frame. While tucking in your shirt can hide some of the extra fabric, you’ll likely still end up looking a bit sloppy. Use the one-finger rule to decide whether there’s too much room in the collar — if you can fit more than one finger between the collar and your neck, you need a smaller size. Slim-cut shirts can make slender men look a lot more professional. Size down if your shirt bunches up even when you tuck it in to your dress pants.
- Being boring in black
One of the great things about custom suits for men is that you’ll have the opportunity to embrace all sorts of colors and styles. So why would you ever opt for a basic black suit? In fact, unless you’re going to a wedding or a funeral, a black suit is usually inappropriate. For a regular day at the office, a navy, gray, or brown suit will be a much better choice. And don’t be afraid to embrace patterns and colors! You don’t want to look too outlandish in a professional setting, of course, but you don’t always have to stick to neutrals.
- Forgetting about the details
Anyone can buy a nice suit, but style is all about the details. For instance, focus on your tie, your shirt collar, and your suit vents. Your tie should never peek out from underneath your shirt collar (if it does, the collar is too small or your tie is too big). Don’t let your undershirt show underneath your dress shirt, either. And for goodness sake, remember to remove the brand label and cut the threads to open the back jacket vent and your pockets! Nothing screams “newbie with no fashion sense” than this lack of attention to details.
The reality is that these fashion crimes are all too common because they’re easy to commit. If you don’t have the proper knowledge, you might never even know you’re wearing your suit incorrectly. But now that you know, you’ll make sure you’re an innocent party — and a sharp dresser.