HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SUIT FOR YOUR BODY TYPE
Author: Nick Carvell, GQ Contributing Fashion Editor
Just as the knights in Medieval times wore suits of armour to both impress suitors and protect themselves from stray lances or arrows that happened across their paths, so the modern suit helps guys today feel powerful. Sure, it can't repel a huge wooden stick during a jousting tournament, but the confidence boost a man should get from wearing one is the kind of psychological protection we need to survive everything from a cut-throat workplace to the nerves of a first date. Slipping on a suit should make you feel as invincible as those knights back in the 1500s.
The reason for this is that the right suit should accentuate everything you love about your physique and skim over all the things you don't. Sloping shoulders can be sharpened, big thighs can be balanced out, slim chests can be broadened – all through a combination of picking the best style for your shape and skillful tailoring. However, key to getting this right is starting with the correct canvas because what works for one man won't work for another. Whatever your size or shape, our foolproof guide will help you find the suit to suit.
Oh, and obviously there will be variables from guy to guy with the below: you might be short and muscular or tall and slim. So if in doubt, flag down someone, say a friend or one of the sales associates in store, to help you figure it out – it always pays to get a second opinion.
Some men feel affronted to admit they're short, which leads to them persevering in buying regular-sized fits which will swamp their bodies with fabric and emphasises the very stature they're trying to deny. They make short fits for a reason, so embrace them – they will fit you better and make you look taller.
Also look out for single-button jackets if you can (these will elongate your torso) and peak lapel jackets (which will draw the eye up your body, again making you appear taller), as well as flat-fronted trousers that you should get your tailor to crop a little higher on the ankle – these will elongate your legs, and nothing shortens a man of any height quicker than a pooling trouser hem languishing over your shoes.
One final tip: a suit is better than separates as the continuous colour or pattern will, again, help to visually trick the eye into adding a couple of inches.
BEST FIT: Slim or skinny depending on your physique, as these more tailored shapes will get you looking sleeker and instantly taller.
Having worked with a man who's 6'7”, I have heard many stories about how hard it is to find clothes that fit properly – however, trust me, the right suit is out there. For taller men, the main goal with your tailoring is to break up quite a bit of material, which can add bulk to your torso. In essence, you are flipping all the advice I've just given to shorter men.
One of the main things to avoid is the shirt flash: where your jacket is too short and your trousers too low, meaning your shirt shows beneath your bottom jacket button. This is fixed by making sure you pick a jacket that sits slightly lower over your hips. Also a wider lapel will help reduce an expanse of fabric at the chest.
Perhaps the easiest hack for taller guys is to get a turn-up added to your trousers of up-to two inches, as this will break up the long vertical line of your body.
BEST FIT: a slim fit will reduce the amount of excess material you're wearing, keeping your look streamlined.
Looking good in a vest and running leggings doesn't necessarily translate into looking good in a suit. If you're a regular gym-goer, the first thing to do is get out of that stretch-lycra mindset – skintight suits never look good.
Chances are you have broad shoulders, a small waist and large thighs, so you need a suit that is trim yet provides room for muscular limbs – a tricky pitch for off-the-rack suiting.
The best idea is to go for a regular fit, then get it tailored to fit right. Once your shoulders and chest are comfortable, a tailor can pull in the waist and when it comes to trousers, get a pair that accommodates your thighs and a tailor can pull in the waistband so they don't slip.
The key is to add balance to your legs if you have larger thighs and smaller calves, so avoid a severe taper on your trousers and opt for something a little more relaxed instead.
BEST FIT: A regular cut, tailored to emphasise the best bits of your gym-born body.
Similar to the tall guy, a slim man can use a suit to add bulk in all the right places. Key to this is getting the jacket right. By all means, go for a skinny fit that hugs your frame, but look out for wider lapels that'll broaden your chest and strong padded shoulders that will give the appearance of a gym-honed physique.
For the same reason, look out for double-breasted suits as well as trousers with pleats, both of which will add the heft of a week of HIIT sessions without having to set foot inside a gym.
The best thing about a slim torso is that you can go for big, bold patterns or textured fabrics with your suits as they will also add mass to your frame – think windowpane checks for summer or patterned tweed during the winter.
BEST FIT: a skinny fit with sharp shoulders will give you a V-shaped torso without leaving you swamped in excess fabric.