1. The Shoulder Into Wall Trick
What it does: Prevents someone from buying a suit jacket or blazer that’s too big
How to do it: Put on the suit jacket, blazer, or sportcoat. With the outside of your shoulder facing a wall, sloooowly lean into the wall. If the shoulder pad strikes first then scrunches up before your shoulder gets there, it’s too big. You risk looking like the jacket is wearing you instead of vice versa. Try a size down. You want a jacket where your shoulder, and the pad (hopefully a slim, minimal pad), strike the wall at almost the exact same time. The less pad overhang the better. Shoulders are key.
Holding up the wall? Nope. Finding shoulders that fit.
2. The Hug Test
What it does: Keeps your torso comfortable and your seams from bursting
How to do it: For shirts, suit jackets, blazers, etc… put the garment on and take a look in the mirror. Fits great, right? Right. Now pretend you’re going to hug someone. If it feels like you’re going to burst a seam and go all hulk-smash, then it’s not a good fit. Try a size up, or, a different brand. Some shirts come with back pleats that help ease movement. Look for those. This is especially useful when you’re getting a jacket pinned up tailoring. Have your tailor pin up the jacket where they’d like to take in the fabric. Do the hug test. If those pins feel like they’re going to rip the fabric, then ease up. And no, don’t try and hug your tailor. That might make things awkward. The air is fine.
3. Curled Fingers for jacket length
What it does: Helps you figure out what jacket length is best for you.
How to do it: With the suit jacket, blazer, or sportcoat on, let your arms hang relaxed at your sides. Curl your fingers as if you were about to grab the handles of a wheel barrow. Your jacket tail should come to rest right in that crevice your fingers have made. If it’s all bunched up, the jacket’s too long. If it’s dangling an inch or so short, it’s too short. Some guys go by the “it should cover your entire rear” rule. But if you have a long torso, you might end up swimming in your jacket. Yet if you have super long arms, the curled fingers method might result in a jacket that’s too long as well. Try both methods and pick whichever works best for you.
The Curled finger method.
4. The fingers for collar size trick
What it does: Prevents strangulation and/or looking like Tony Romo.
How to do it: Button the shirt all the way up and stick a finger or two between your neck and the collar. There’s some debate on this. Some sources claim if you can comfortably fit more than one finger in-between the collar and your neck, it’s too big. Others say two fingers but no more. The goal is to have no noticeable gaps when buttoned, all while not suffocating.
5. Armhole / Handshake test.
What it does: Helps you find a jacket that won’t fight you while you’re wearing it.
How to do it: Plenty of affordable blazers and suit jackets come with absurdly large armholes. Like, flying squirrel large. The lower the armhole dips down on the jacket, the more likely it is to shift and move, as your arms pulls at the body of the jacket. Stand in front of a mirror with the jacket on. Pretend like you’re about to shake someone’s hand. If the jacket raises up and bucks like a marionette with its strings being pulled, then you might want to find a brand with higher arm holes.
- Wear what you’re going to wear an item with when shopping or getting it tailored.
Looking for a topcoat or trench? Wear a blazer and collared shirt to the store. Getting dress pants hemmed up? Wear a pair of dress shoes, not sneakers, when you head to the tailor. Layers add bulk. Different shoes have different sole heights. Wear dress socks when shopping for dress shoes. Also, it never hurts to wear something that already fits great when you’re out looking for a similar addition.
- Don’t forget about your pants.
A lot of these tricks have to do with the upper body. And maybe we can blame the fact that as men, most of us don’t have a full length mirror in our place. But many a guy has purchased a great suit, got the waist brought in and the arms narrowed, only to leave the pants as they were, and the risk is it could look unbalanced. Most wouldn’t notice, but it is sort of like not combing the hair on the back of your head.
What else? Got any other parlor tricks for finding a great fit? Leave them all below.