1. The right trouser length

Trouser length is important when perfecting men’s ready to wear, made to measure and bespoke suits, so aim for an inch of break for a classic look. Ideally, the trouser edge should just skim the tops of your shoes. Trends are constantly changing, and narrower trousers worn shorter, are not unusual , this is often referred to as zero break. It’s important that your tailor or favourite store understands the current trends as well as the classic timeless more established ways and firstly listens to your brief and delivers what it is you want.

There is more to this than meets the eye. For instance, if a customer would like turn ups or P.T.U’s (permanent turn ups) as they are referred to which, requires shortening by 2”or 3” from the bottom of the trouser, the width measurement, will not fit the wider leg measurement higher up. Once turned up….stick with me here…to do this properly the leg also needs to be narrowed to allow a smooth wrinkle free PTU.

On the bespoke side we are still asked for kick flares (a narrower knee measure giving an optical illusion of a slight flare) often chosen by someone who prefers to wear a heel of higher height. We all have an ‘ Achilles heel’ wether it be baldness, a forward stomach, short legs in ratio to a long body or the other way around, or both (vertically compromised) or A fitting is the kinder way of putting it. All of the above, we can help with…except baldness…but watch this space as my step daughter Is training to be a hair transplant technician.

It’s important that your tailor knows how to help correct and disguise these ‘Achilles heels’….I view it that the better we can make you look in a suit, the more people you will refer to us.

2. Perfect shoulders

You should be able to move your arms freely in a ready to wear (RTW) made to measure (MTM) or bespoke suit, so if it feels tight around the shoulders it might be too small. On the other hand, seams that extend past your shoulders indicate the jacket is too big. To get the fit right, the jacket should feel like its hugging your shoulders. Unfortunately most peoples shoulders aren’t perfect, and there should be some compromising between great fitting shoulders and some degree of comfort.

The common shoulder figurations are sloping, normal or square (high) with a drop shoulder, (one lower than the other) thrown in just to complicate things…add to this ‘ forward pointing shoulders’ and rugby injuries and you need a tailor/advisor who’s being doing it long enough to give a clean as normal appearance as possible, whilst still keeping the shoulder comfortable.

3. Be mindful of a collar gap

A jacket collar should be fitted close to your neck, otherwise it will sit apart from the collar of your shirt, revealing a noticeable gap. It should also not sit too high covering the back of the shirt collar. There are all sorts of figuration problems that cause this, such as head forward, sway figure etc. These can usually be rectified by our bespoke tailoring services in Harrogate and London.

4. Button rules

If your suit has two buttons, the top one should not sit below your navel. For suits with three buttons, the middle button should not fall below your navel.
Our house style is for single breasted with two buttons on a two and a half stance, meaning that the top button is set half way between the traditional top button and where the third would be if it were there. This enables us to give a comfortable fit with an hourglass shape, following the lines of proportion…artists often talk about perspective, you will often hear us talk about proportion….. it’s our job to disguise a stomach and give an optical illusion of waist definition, even when there isn’t much!

5. Correct fitting around the waist

The best made RTW , MTM and bespoke suits fit comfortably around the waist, so that you can move easily without feeling swamped in your jacket, or struggling to breathe because it’s too tight. Ideally, you should have a gap of 1 1/2 inches between your shirt and jacket, when the top button is done up.

However, this goes out of the window when a client wants a shorter fitted look with natural shoulders and a super slim silhouette. We will make this for a chap with an athletic body, who is in shape….however, we will ‘guide’ older less athletic clients away from this ……for obvious reasons.

6. Avoid lengthy sleeves

If your jacket sleeve skims your knuckles, it’s too long and requires taking up. There should be up to half an inch gap between your jacket and shirt sleeve. Military and ex military personnel are used to longer sleeves with uniforms and sometimes because of this struggle with a sleeve of correct length in civilian wear. Alternatively sleeves that are too short look equally as bad, your tailor should not only offer to correct short and overlong sleeves, but know how to do this properly.

Sleeves should not be shortened from the shoulder unless absolutely necessary as in the case of a surgeons cuff (working button holes), as if the coat has a check or stripe the pattern matching of the check/stripe will be thrown out and no longer match (assuming that it’s been cut properly and matched in the first place)

In simple terms, the sleeves should be stripped of buttons and shams (mock button holes) on RTW. The sleeve length altered accordingly i.e. shortened or lengthened and the shams, the original number 1/2/3/ or 4 replaced as though the sleeves had never been touched.

Also if sleeves have to be shortened considerably, just as trousers widths when making PTU’s the sleeve may have to narrowed accordingly to effect this re-tailoring.

We do not charge for this on our RTW suits as it is our policy that the suit goes out looking as good as possible. The only exception to this is at sale times when margins are either non existent or drastically reduced.

7. Jacket length

Firstly all tailors will refer to ‘jackets’ as coats….an old boy once corrected me saying …”young man. Potatoes wear jackets and gentleman wear coats”

As well as getting the length of the coat sleeves spot on, the overall length of the coat needs to be considered, too. Stand with your arms out to your sides with the coat on. The bottom of the coat should lie evenly with your knuckles and cover your seat.

Once again shorter styles are still around, and the balance and proportion of the coat against its desired length is paramount…ie wear the pockets are placed, the button stance etc.

I’ve met many tailors who were technical geniuses but didn’t have, what I refer to as the ‘eye’. Proportion, proportion proportion….got it?

One of my biggest influences as a young man, when I came into the trade at 16 years of age, was Mr Douglas Hayward or Dougie Hayward as he was often known.

Hayward’s operated from Mount Street in Mayfair and I remember him saying “people buy my taste and style”…undoubtedly he could make a beautiful suit. He had ‘ the eye’ as well as the technical skill, making suits for many stars and films from the Italian job and for countless celebrities.

Sir Michael Caine has an extensive Hayward wardrobe as did Dougie’s tennis partner and friend the late Sir Roger Moore, another man of great style.

He also said that the older he got, he just wanted to make a two button suit in navy or grey, valuing understatement and letting the beautiful cut of the suit speak for itself.

If it’s cut right and the tailor/cutter/fitter understand proportion, then you can by optical illusion take up to two stones off a man’s weight without any dieting!

I make myself experiment with colour and fabric for Rhodes-Wood and I have some different takes on garments with a fresh feel in work….even if I do continue to wear navy and grey two button suits.

R.I.P. Mr Hayward and thank you for the advice.

For your perfectly tailored suit, contact our Harrogate shop on 01423 505878 to make an appointment.