WA

Honors Member
Hoping not to come off sounding trite, but the wisdom incorporated in that old saw about "having one's coat tail just brush the tips of their fingers when the arms hang straight down at one's sides and one cups their fingers," has served me well over the period of a lifetime! There is no need to over complicate the wardrobing process! LOL. ;)
Great, unless you have shorter or longer arms.

An old book about adjusting a pattern to short or long is about four inches this way or that way, vertical. Don't know what modern shorts and longs are.
 

ItalianStyle

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
A few observations:

The blog post has a few references like "the picture on the left (right)", but on my tablet those pictures are on top of each other... (I was able to figure it out, though ;))

How about including some 'rule of thumbs' when it comes to the difference between, say, a 38R and a 40S...?
I am sometimes asked which measurements change in the above example - waist/chest, sleeve length, total length...?
 

Searching_Best_Fit

Senior Member
Great suggestion @ItalianStyle! I'll mention it to our writer and see if we can expand on the article in the coming weeks!
Disclaimer: I was torn whether to write this post or not as I admired the author's effort in tackling this subject but there are mistakes and fit issues that were not addressed, or address incorrectly, which will be explained with reasons. However, I hate to see an incorrect article posted on the AAAC article site so please pass this post to the author for further revision.

Warning: wall of text coming..

Some apparent mistakes:

1. In the measuring pictures of regular vs. short, the vertical measurements show the correct way to measure: 38R => 30 inch; 38S => 28.5 inch with 1.5 inch difference in length. However, in the horizontal measurement, the 38R is measured as 31 inch. That picture of 38R on horizontal view is incorrect.

2. As @ItalianStyle said, the paragraph "However, the jacket on the left.." should be written as "However, the 38S jacket would be the better...". That is clear and concise, and no confusion about top/down or left/right pictures.

3. In the article the author implies that the 38S jacket is a better fit because:

"From the front, the jacket cuts him, visually, in half, and elongates his shorter frame."

In fact, if you look at the frontal pictures, one can argue that the 38R jacket has the hem *closer* to the mid point to cut the body (excluding head) in half. The 38S jacket is just too short and not reaching to the mid point.

Just to clarify about this so-called "cut-in-half" rule: when discussing about jacket length, one way that tailors determine the length is to let the subject worn shoes and stand naturally. Then measure from nape (back of neck with a bump) to floor distance. Then cut that distance in half to determine the jacket length.

That is the proper way to determine where the jacket hem should cut in half.

IMO, both jackets (38R/S on this subject) are too shorts and not fitted. If you break out a ruler to measure the distance on the picture, even the 38R jacket is too short for this subject. It seems that vertical distance of jacket just barely reach the top of the shoe, not even to the floor (ignoring picture distortion). That just proves that this 38R jacket is too short for this subject.

Furthermore, if you observe the button stance on the 38R (no need to talk about the 38S as it is too high), it is higher than the ideal location, the narrowest part of the torso. It should be lower by 1 to 1.5 inches. If the jacket is longer, which will lower the button stance and pocket placement, it will sit at a better location for this subject, and that leads me to discuss about the *pooling around the waist of the 38R jacket*.

The pooling around the waist is caused by the narrowest part of the jacket sits at a wider part of the body, not by extra fabric around the seat. From the side view, it seems that this subject has a little bit of upper abdominal fat that sticks out around the waist. The reason that the 38S jacket does not have this pooling is because it buttoned higher than this gut, so the narrowest part of the jacket did not sit around this gut, and therefore no pooling. On the 38R jacket, since the narrowest part of the jacket clinched to the gut and pulls the back to the front, you see the wrinkles on the lower back of the jacket. The author mis-explained this problem with extra fabric around the seat. That is incorrect.

4. The *jacket hem sits with respected to finger joints* rule has been proven unreliable as different people have different arm lengths. However, one can use the simple two rules to determine the proper length:

a. divide the body from nape to floor in half
b. cover his seat to his liking (ideally fully but exception can happen, explained later)

Once this length is determined, than he can observe where the jacket hem sits with respected to *his fingers* at rest, whether it is a thumb's tip, fingers cupping, first joint, or even at wrist (extra long arm). Then this point of reference will work *ONLY FOR HIM*, not for anyone except they have the same proportions of body height and arm length.

That is the proper way to determine the reference point for one's body, not the other way around. Just because the hem sits at the thumb's tip work for you does not mean it is generally true for everyone. One still needs to follow those two rules to determine the proper jacket length.

What if there is a conflict between rule a (cut-in-half) and rule b (cover one's seat)?

IMO, rule a is more important than rule b especially with exceptional body proportion. One can have a tall lean body (think Conan O'Brien) with short torso and long legs. he needs longer jacket to cut his body in half, and that will result in the hem sit way below his seat, which is fine for this body type. furthermore, if he chooses to wear a shorter jacket that just covers his seat, he will show those exceptional long legs all the time, and that creates an illusion of short jacket on him. On the other hand, for a short statue with long torso (short legs), rule a still works because the jacket hem could sit not fully cover his seat, but with a properly fitted trousers with full enough thigh spaces, there is less broken visual transition from jacket to trousers. If he insists on getting the hem to cover his seat in this situation, it will result in too long the jacket and also illustrate his shorter legs, which is no good for his appearance.

In short: check rule A first and see if rule B can be met. Rule A should determine the *longest* jacket length that you can wear. If you are gifted with longer legs, play around with a shorter distance until you reach the place for rule B. For example, if one wears a jacket with BOC (bottom of collar with T seam) length of 31" and the hem meets this ideal point of rule A, this is the maximum length he can wear. However, if he has longer legs, a jacket with 30" from BOC just barely covers his seat, but show more of his legs, this length can be his ideal minimum length. Therefore, any jackets with length in between 30" and 31" will work for him, no matter which chest size. This can range from 38R to 42R depends on cuts or trend/fashion and his built. As long as the chest/shoulder and BOC length fit, the rest will sit closer to the ideal locations.

So, for a quick summary of determine one's ideal jacket length:

1. know your chest size and get a jacket that fits your shoulder (no shoulder divots and lapel bowing). Don't worry about the sleeve length as that can be easily shorten (except for functional button holes one).
2. use rule a and b as your guide line to determine your ideal jacket length
3. measure the jacket length from BOC to hem to determine this ideal jacket length *for you only*
4. observe where this jacket hem sits w.r.t. your hand and use that as a quick guide for you only.

Once you established your own set of guidelines, when putting on a new jacket, you can immediately tell whether that jacket has the right length *for you*. Is it too short, too long, or acceptable. How much shorter/longer is acceptable? That is entirely up to you. Maybe the jacket is too short, but you can now articulate how short to ideal and why you choose to wear it.

----------------------------

Now, speaking of fit, I am questioning whether the size 38 fit this subject or not. Looking at the pictures, one can observe many traits of mis-fits: shoulder divots, tight chest (bowing lapels), high button stances, short jackets, wrinkles around the back and what not. It seems that this subject needs a size 40 jacket, and probably a 40R jacket with longer length. With his sway-back posture, narrower shoulder and a bit barrel torso, a fuller cut 38 or a 40R with wider armhole should fit him better.

Furthermore, his shoulder slope seems steeper as one can observe a somewhat concave curve on that 38S jacket. That suggests that he may not need too much shoulder padding on the jacket. An un-padded or lightly padded jacket should fit him better.

I should stop here now.
 

Hebrew Barrister

Senior Member
Disclaimer: I was torn whether to write this post or not as I admired the author's effort in tackling this subject but there are mistakes and fit issues that were not addressed, or address incorrectly, which will be explained with reasons. However, I hate to see an incorrect article posted on the AAAC article site so please pass this post to the author for further revision.

Warning: wall of text coming..

Some apparent mistakes:

1. In the measuring pictures of regular vs. short, the vertical measurements show the correct way to measure: 38R => 30 inch; 38S => 28.5 inch with 1.5 inch difference in length. However, in the horizontal measurement, the 38R is measured as 31 inch. That picture of 38R on horizontal view is incorrect.

2. As @ItalianStyle said, the paragraph "However, the jacket on the left.." should be written as "However, the 38S jacket would be the better...". That is clear and concise, and no confusion about top/down or left/right pictures.

3. In the article the author implies that the 38S jacket is a better fit because:

"From the front, the jacket cuts him, visually, in half, and elongates his shorter frame."

In fact, if you look at the frontal pictures, one can argue that the 38R jacket has the hem *closer* to the mid point to cut the body (excluding head) in half. The 38S jacket is just too short and not reaching to the mid point.

Just to clarify about this so-called "cut-in-half" rule: when discussing about jacket length, one way that tailors determine the length is to let the subject worn shoes and stand naturally. Then measure from nape (back of neck with a bump) to floor distance. Then cut that distance in half to determine the jacket length.

That is the proper way to determine where the jacket hem should cut in half.

IMO, both jackets (38R/S on this subject) are too shorts and not fitted. If you break out a ruler to measure the distance on the picture, even the 38R jacket is too short for this subject. It seems that vertical distance of jacket just barely reach the top of the shoe, not even to the floor (ignoring picture distortion). That just proves that this 38R jacket is too short for this subject.

Furthermore, if you observe the button stance on the 38R (no need to talk about the 38S as it is too high), it is higher than the ideal location, the narrowest part of the torso. It should be lower by 1 to 1.5 inches. If the jacket is longer, which will lower the button stance and pocket placement, it will sit at a better location for this subject, and that leads me to discuss about the *pooling around the waist of the 38R jacket*.

The pooling around the waist is caused by the narrowest part of the jacket sits at a wider part of the body, not by extra fabric around the seat. From the side view, it seems that this subject has a little bit of upper abdominal fat that sticks out around the waist. The reason that the 38S jacket does not have this pooling is because it buttoned higher than this gut, so the narrowest part of the jacket did not sit around this gut, and therefore no pooling. On the 38R jacket, since the narrowest part of the jacket clinched to the gut and pulls the back to the front, you see the wrinkles on the lower back of the jacket. The author mis-explained this problem with extra fabric around the seat. That is incorrect.

4. The *jacket hem sits with respected to finger joints* rule has been proven unreliable as different people have different arm lengths. However, one can use the simple two rules to determine the proper length:

a. divide the body from nape to floor in half
b. cover his seat to his liking (ideally fully but exception can happen, explained later)

Once this length is determined, than he can observe where the jacket hem sits with respected to *his fingers* at rest, whether it is a thumb's tip, fingers cupping, first joint, or even at wrist (extra long arm). Then this point of reference will work *ONLY FOR HIM*, not for anyone except they have the same proportions of body height and arm length.

That is the proper way to determine the reference point for one's body, not the other way around. Just because the hem sits at the thumb's tip work for you does not mean it is generally true for everyone. One still needs to follow those two rules to determine the proper jacket length.

What if there is a conflict between rule a (cut-in-half) and rule b (cover one's seat)?

IMO, rule a is more important than rule b especially with exceptional body proportion. One can have a tall lean body (think Conan O'Brien) with short torso and long legs. he needs longer jacket to cut his body in half, and that will result in the hem sit way below his seat, which is fine for this body type. furthermore, if he chooses to wear a shorter jacket that just covers his seat, he will show those exceptional long legs all the time, and that creates an illusion of short jacket on him. On the other hand, for a short statue with long torso (short legs), rule a still works because the jacket hem could sit not fully cover his seat, but with a properly fitted trousers with full enough thigh spaces, there is less broken visual transition from jacket to trousers. If he insists on getting the hem to cover his seat in this situation, it will result in too long the jacket and also illustrate his shorter legs, which is no good for his appearance.

In short: check rule A first and see if rule B can be met. Rule A should determine the *longest* jacket length that you can wear. If you are gifted with longer legs, play around with a shorter distance until you reach the place for rule B. For example, if one wears a jacket with BOC (bottom of collar with T seam) length of 31" and the hem meets this ideal point of rule A, this is the maximum length he can wear. However, if he has longer legs, a jacket with 30" from BOC just barely covers his seat, but show more of his legs, this length can be his ideal minimum length. Therefore, any jackets with length in between 30" and 31" will work for him, no matter which chest size. This can range from 38R to 42R depends on cuts or trend/fashion and his built. As long as the chest/shoulder and BOC length fit, the rest will sit closer to the ideal locations.

So, for a quick summary of determine one's ideal jacket length:

1. know your chest size and get a jacket that fits your shoulder (no shoulder divots and lapel bowing). Don't worry about the sleeve length as that can be easily shorten (except for functional button holes one).
2. use rule a and b as your guide line to determine your ideal jacket length
3. measure the jacket length from BOC to hem to determine this ideal jacket length *for you only*
4. observe where this jacket hem sits w.r.t. your hand and use that as a quick guide for you only.

Once you established your own set of guidelines, when putting on a new jacket, you can immediately tell whether that jacket has the right length *for you*. Is it too short, too long, or acceptable. How much shorter/longer is acceptable? That is entirely up to you. Maybe the jacket is too short, but you can now articulate how short to ideal and why you choose to wear it.

----------------------------

Now, speaking of fit, I am questioning whether the size 38 fit this subject or not. Looking at the pictures, one can observe many traits of mis-fits: shoulder divots, tight chest (bowing lapels), high button stances, short jackets, wrinkles around the back and what not. It seems that this subject needs a size 40 jacket, and probably a 40R jacket with longer length. With his sway-back posture, narrower shoulder and a bit barrel torso, a fuller cut 38 or a 40R with wider armhole should fit him better.

Furthermore, his shoulder slope seems steeper as one can observe a somewhat concave curve on that 38S jacket. That suggests that he may not need too much shoulder padding on the jacket. An un-padded or lightly padded jacket should fit him better.

I should stop here now.
Great post. This stuff said, between the two jackets posted, I do think the 38S is more flattering on the subject. It's a bit short, but seems to fit his torso better.
 

Searching_Best_Fit

Senior Member
Great post. This stuff said, between the two jackets posted, I do think the 38S is more flattering on the subject. It's a bit short, but seems to fit his torso better.
Solely based on the look, there is fewer wrinkles for the 38S jacket. So it is easier to be misunderstood that is a better fit because of that reason. However, the truth is that because the jacket is so short that the larger girth at the hip of the jacket is fitted to the larger waist of the body so there is less wrinkles. The end result is less wrinkles, but that is not a correct fit.

For general public who may or may not care about correct fit on menswear, that fit will pass with no issue. For folks who want to know the classic and correct way of fit, that jacket is just too short: not everything is in their correct places.
 

Tony Gorga

Staff Writer for Ask Andy
@Searching_Best_Fit

Thanks so much for the feedback! It helps me to learn and grow both as an author and budding menswear enthusiast. I'm happy to talk with and learn from folks who have been around much longer than I have.

To talk to each of your points:
1. You're absolutely correct on the measurements. A few comments have brought it up, and I'm working on the corrections- just need to find similar lighting.
2. Also correct. We're rewording that too :)

3. Regarding my own measurements and your points on fit.

I stand 5'7.25", which puts me squarely between many Regular and Short jackets, especially with today's chopped tails. That's actually one of the reasons I started buying custom in the first place! But, this article isn't about custom jackets-it's about off-the-rack jacket length. It's also not entirely about precise fit.

i. A great observation on the button stance. I actually correct this on my custom pieces and have the stance a little lower (and a lot lower than the 38S) to maximize a V taper.

ii. Parenting a newborn and recent homeownership have softened me up a little in the last six months, but I still have around an 8 inch (39.5 chest, 31.5-32 inch waist) drop between my chest and waist and outsized triceps and rear deltoid muscles from years of weightlifting. To make a long story (that took years of trial and error to write) short, the wrinkling you see in my shoulders is caused not by the shoulder being too big (like we'd expect) but by slimmer sleeves and higher armholes (usually a good thing!) squeezing my upper arms and pushing that sleeve upwards.

But, this off-the-rack experience was very good for me once I made the move into custom tailoring. I still have a higher (20-21") armhole on my jackets, but extend the shoulder line a quarter of an inch beyond the acromion bone to allow for the fabric to drape around the shoulder. I then have the arms cut quite full on the first pass and slim accordingly to account for the wrinkling you see. I also opt for as little shoulder padding as possible, as I also have a very small head-it makes me look like a linebacker!

iii. It's certainly possible the rear wrinkling is caused by excess fat around my hips. However, the 38R hasn't been tapered at all in the waist, and I'm actually quite comfortable in it.

I'd contend, then, that the camera, while it doesn't lie, is misconstruing a few things about the rear fit. See, the jacket is wool, but it's butterfly lined in the back. I'm also wearing a fuller-cut cotton shirt. What you're seeing is, in my view, the unlined jacket catching on my shirt and, in effect, "riding up" on my hips.

iv. Years of squats have developed a comparatively full posterior that the camera also doesn't quite capture. I actually have a strap built into my custom jackets to compensate for the inevitable flaring that occurs around the vents, and that's worked beautifully.

As a very important sidebar, the flaring and riding up actually may work in my benefit in the length department on the 38R- when it's fully extended and sits the way it should, it's too long.


There are two ways to correct these issues off-the-rack, and both have the same problem and are unreasonably expensive. One, I can get a classic cut that works with my arms and shoulders. But, there will be so much room in the waist that taking the jacket in will result in comically out-of-proportion pockets. This is especially the case on patch pocketed casual jackets. Trust me, I've tried! And that's just the jacket. The pants will often be so roomy that they basically need to be re-cut.

A second option is to size up, and then taper. I tried that too. What would have resulted is, again, basically a suit that would end up being out of proportion.

4. Returning to length. All of my custom ones are cut to a unique length, to within a quarter of an inch, that cuts me and my unusual height in half. But again, this is about the off-the-rack, and what is best for my unusual height. I'd argue the Short remains better of the two for my situation because it better elongates my legs- making me look taller. That's something I believe most of us want!

Thanks again for taking the time to comment. I genuinely appreciate the feedback and will take it to heart in keeping this one of the best forums on the web for men's style and advice.
 

Searching_Best_Fit

Senior Member
Thank you for the reply. I will reply to the points you mentioned if there is a need.

Let me clarify this upfront: when buying tailor clothes, one needs to understand where the key elements should sit w.r.t. his own body. i.e. button stance, jacket length and sleeve length. The most common mistake that people wear mis-fit clothes is because one or more of these elements are placed in the wrong place on their body, and thus creates the wrong look and they cannot determine why it is wrong. When buying bespoke where you can change the pattern to suit your body built, typically these errors can be avoided as the tailor could adjust the wrongs. However, when buying OTR, if you do not know where things should sit w.r.t. your own body, you can buy the wrong clothes even though that you can button it with the minimal wrinkles, it is still a wrong fit to you. As I saw this in one book: even though you can zip it does not mean it fits.

Once you know where and how things should be set to your own body, then you need to analyze how you stand. That is, your posture. Why is your posture important to your fit? Imagine someone ask you to build a clothes cover of a pipe with outside diameter of 40". So you cut the clothes and add some ease so that the clothes will drape over the object. Then, once you are ready to cover the object with the clothes that you built, you realized that the requester forgot to mention one thing: the pipe is curved!! Not straight as you envisioned before!! How the heck can I fit this curved pipe with clothes that is cut for straight pipe?

This is the second most misunderstood aspect about fit with OTR: the clothes is made for a body with a certain dimension in a certain posture in mind. It will fit that body in that posture. However, even if you have the same dimension, if you slouch, puff chest, turn, tore, or twist your body when fitting, the clothes will not fit you. It will create wrinkles. When tailor cut a custom pattern he/she needs to consider how the customer stand and thus adjust the minor details and things so that during the first fitting the jacket should look good enough for minor alteration. This is the essence of buying bespoke clothes. you buy clothes that is designed for your body, both the dimension and how it stands, not just for the dimension only.

Now, allow me to use one of your picture to high-light the fit issues that I see.

tony_38R-side-view.jpg



Check the light blue line that I drew quickly. This is the body outline I guess from this picture. You can verify that yourself if I made any mistake, but generally this is how you stand. As highlighted, you have forward shoulder (red), gut out to front with pronounced curved lower back (sway-back). The front panel is lower than the back (forward imbalance), illustrated by the pink line. The orange line shows a somewhat anterior tilted pelvis by observing the back and how the vent flares out. This can also be confirmed when you take off the jacket and observe your belts as the loop is tilted forward. Your pelvis tilted forward like a bucket. The red line shows your deltoid and shoulder bones sit forward pushing the front of the armhole. The deltoid muscle is pulling the armhole in anterior/posterior direction thus creates that pivot.

This jacket on you is just a classic fit problem: even though it zips doesn't mean it fits.

If you then look back at the 38S side view picture, you can see that these problem are still there, but because of the too-high of the button stance, these problems are somewhat hidden, but not disappeared.

As you mentioned, sizing up is an option, but it does not solve the posture problem. It can only hide it to its best ability. With your 39.5" chest (assuming pit-to-pit, or maybe over the fullest part of chest and back), you should definitely get a 40R jacket. As a 38 jacket is cut with (38" + 3"-6" ease = 41" to 44" pit-to-pit), you can fit that to your 39.5" chest, but it is very close fitting there, and anything curvy or twisty below will cause fit problem, as explained in aforementioned straight pipe/curve pipe example. With a 40R jacket (3 to 4.5" ease at pit-to-pit), the chest will fit loose, but the waist will be larger as well and thus hide your sway-back posture better. The armhole is larger and further outward, thus your own anterior deltoid won't push to the front more, and maybe not creating the divots. In fact, I would not even to suggest to taper as your posture is not that straight tapering the waist just creates more problems down the road.

To solve your fitting issue on that 38R jacket, you can either size up to cover the curvy torso, or straight up your posture by fixing the forward shoulder and anterior pelvis tilt. There are many on-line videos telling you how to fix those. Once you can stand straight shoulder down, these fitting issues will disappear without any alteration. Since you have done weight training, you should know that a good posture is the most important thing. One can build all the muscle he wants, but if he does not stand straight, that is no use.

A muscular figure is hard to fit OTR as there could be muscle grown in some area where normal person would not get. A boulder like deltoid is harder to fit because of larger than normal armhole size required. A forward shoulder with large deltoid is even harder because the armhole may or may not first fit second sit at a good location to fit the body. To fit anyone in the shoulder, the armholes of the jacket must be large enough and in a good location to fit the body. Any posture variation could cause problem on fit.

In summary, if you stand like a mannequin with straight posture and lean-enough physique, OTR clothes will fit you according to your dimension nicely. The job to determine the right *jacket length* is then very simple as described before. However, if you stand curved, having a belly, one shoulder lower than the other, and with other posture-related issues, finding the *correct* or *good-enough* jacket length becomes secondary because there are intrinsic posture/built related issues that need to be resolved first.

---------------------------------

One last thing:

See, the jacket is wool, but it's butterfly lined in the back. I'm also wearing a fuller-cut cotton shirt. What you're seeing is, in my view, the unlined jacket catching on my shirt and, in effect, "riding up" on my hips.
Even though the jacket is unlined at the back, I am not sure that it can be caught up by the shirt at the back.
 
G

Guest-306088

Guest
So these discussions are very interesting. I have looked with dismay these last 2 seasons or so at the odd looking jackets that many gentlemen are wearing. First they all seem too short, too tight and too loud.

The shortness of the jackets remind me more of ladies' jackets which seem to sit just on the hips and right at the opening of the rear trouser pockets. The style looks absurd, especially on heavier men and older men.

There is the "milano" cut at Brooks Brothers and then there is a cut that is just too slim such that the lapels of the jackets are puckered when its owner puts a wallet in the interior pocket. I can't imagine that anyone thinks that this looks good. (I'll deal with the "loudness" of the plaids and the brightness of the blue in another post)

One thing that many people may be noticing is that as they are getting older, they're shrinking a little.

I'm 60 (as of tomorrow, actually) and I'm about 1 inch shorter than I was when I was 30. Posture is fine. But, I'm a long time long distance runner and there is a compression of the disks in the back that is, sadly, inevitable but accelerated slightly by the pounding that running brings on.

I have for a the longest time sat between a short and a regular length jacket with most of the ready-to-wear makers and have stubbornly stayed with the regular because my torso is a bit longer relative to my overall height.

But that little bit of aging has me re-thinking......any thoughts about this?
 
Last edited by a moderator:

iam.mike

Partner / Administrator
Staff member
I'm 60 (as of tomorrow, actually)
Happy early birthday. 60 is the new 50 :)

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