Sometimes, Always, Never!

iStock_000002247028MediumAs we are seeing a lot of three-piece suits for men this fall, take note of some simple yet useful tips when buying this essential item in any man’s closet, and in particular the jacket.

First Things First: the Shoulders

To ensure a good fit, the jacket shoulder seams should slightly extend beyond your own shoulder to create a smooth line. It should never protrude beyond your own shoulder as this is an indication that the jacket is too big for you, and it should never end before your shoulder, a sign that it is too small.

A Good Fit Around the Collar, Back and Waist

Once you have determined the best fit for your shoulders, you now need to look at the collar and the back of the jacket, i.e. the area in between your shoulder blades. The collar should fit snugly on the shirt collar, with no gaps on the sides or back, and the back of jacket should be smooth with no wrinkles or pulling in sight. The buttons should lie flat on your stomach and waist when done up, again with no pulling or “house coat*” effect, meaning that you lose all shape and form.

If, however, you find yourself in a situation where the shoulders fit well but the back of the jacket shows small signs of pulling or if there is too much material around the waist, see if you can have the jacket let out a little to create a bit more space, or tailored to eliminate the extra material.


Here is a trick to figure out your ideal jacket length: with your arms at your side, curl up your hand around the bottom of the jacket. If the jacket grazes your hand in this curled position, then this is a good length for you. If your hand does not “catch” anything, then you will need the long version of the jacket. Likewise, if when you curl your hand you find yourself scrunching the side of your jacket, then you will most likely need the short version. Bear in mind that jackets can be shortened, however up to one-inch only, otherwise the balance and proportion of the jacket will be off.

When it comes to sleeve length, you should ideally have 1/4 inch of your shirt extend beyond the jacket sleeve.


Your jacket vents should lie flat (as in closed) with no pulling or wrinkling – this is a sign that your jacket is too small. And the vents should not fold over either – too much material, too big.

Buttons: Sometimes, Always, Never!

And most importantly, whether you are a two-button or three-button suit kind of guy, make sure you know the rules of the game when it comes to buttoning up your suit jacket. Here is a little trick: from the top down for a three-button jacket think “Sometimes, Always, Never” – that is the top button should sometimes be done up, the second always, and the last never. It drives me crazy when I see men with the third button done up, with the resulting effect being quite distracting as the jacket is flying open in the wrong spots!


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