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Top 10 Signs You’re in a Poor Fitting Suit

I’ve come across a few online lists pointing out the do’s and don’ts of suit etiquette. From what I’ve seen, they outline a very generic right and wrong, black and white opinion on where men’s fashion is at currently. They seem to speak to a suit buying customer who’s in the market for their first garment. Suit 101, entry level stuff, i.e. Buzzfeed’s recent post. A few of their opinions are spot on, but there are not nearly enough points on the importance of fit, and especially what makes a bad fit.

These are The Helm’s Top Ten Signs You’re in a Poor Fitting Suit.

10. Jacket shoulder sag/bite 

There are a couple of MAJOR signs that the suit you’re currently wearing needs to see the donation bin - one of these signs is shoulder sag, and the other is bite. Both are bad, but sag is the greater of the two evils. These debacles occur when the jacket’s shoulder width doesn’t match the shoulders of the wearer.

When the shoulders are too tight, you get a divot towards the back of the sleeve head – known as bite. When the shoulders are too wide you end up with shoulder sag – the '90s Chicago banker look (see below). A jacket should fall clean off your shoulder, with a slight amount of shoulder coming out beyond the armhole. 

9. The jacket's front button stance is too high/pops

Button stance has been a long debated topic in the menswear scene. Most of today’s ready-to-wear jackets have a mid-to-high button stance, especially from contemporary Italian clothing manufacturers. The higher the button stance, the shorter your torso will look when the jacket is done up. This can be a good or bad thing depending on a guy’s body shape. The higher button stance can look quite casual and trendy when worn properly, but when it’s too tight the result is terrible – especially if the wearer’s sporting a bit of a belly. The button stance traditionally hovers 2-3 fingers above the belly button and pulls ever so slightly when done up (depending on the look the wearer is going for).

2nd photo in point 7 represents an incorrectly high button stance.


 8. The jacket's chest breaks/gapes

THE CHEST OF THE COAT SHOULD ALWAYS FOLLOW THE SHAPE OF THE WEARER’S CHEST!! A gapping coat chest is not a good look and neither is chest break. Both are caused when the chest of the jacket is either too high, too small, or the shoulders don’t sit right. If either of these are evident when trying ready-to-wear (RTW) garments, you should really consider custom options to correct the problem.

7. The jacket looks like a dress or shows too much seat and crotch

We get it – short jackets are trendy. But one shouldn’t take this too far. Your jacket should cover 80% of your ass and junk. This is the rule. If trendy is not your thing, and you’re still wearing jackets down to your fingertips, you need to correct that situation as well! Generally, current fashion dictates the bottom edge of a jacket should end between the two knuckles on your thumb. This rule can be pushed a little bit when wearing a casual sport coat – they tend to be a little shorter.

6. The pant has a saggy seat

Tailors exist. There is no need for this.


5. The pant pockets pop like elephant ears

This is a tough one, and not easily solved like #6. The pockets on a trouser should lay flat and clean against the side of a man’s hip. If they pop, your pants don’t fit like they should! Popping pockets occur when the seat is too tight or the stride doesn’t offer enough thigh room. The tighter the fit, the bigger the pop. This is an important fit issue to watch for. And again, if you’re not having luck with RTW you should consider custom.

4. The jacket collar is sporting a roll behind the neck! 

Collar roll. The worst!  But again, this is something that a good tailor can correct. Collar roll happens for two reasons - either the posture of the wearer is upright and erect or the person has high shoulders. These evils can easily be dealt with by any saintly tailor.  



3. The pants have a '90s Chicago banker look

A friend of mine was just in Chicago on vacation, and snapped a photo of some business guy having drinks in the financial district. Not to rip on Americans for their poor fashion sense, but the guy in the photo looked comical. The guy's suit looked to be circa 1994: super long jacket and trousers. DON’T GET CAUGHT LOOKING LIKE A 90’s CHICAGO BANKER!!! Your trousers should fit clean through the thigh and somewhat narrow at the bottom – relative to your build. They should also fall clean against your shoe, with a slight break in the front. Trousers should never ever break at the back of the shoe.

2. The jacket sleeves are covering your knuckles

Another easy fix. The sleeve should rest roughly at the small dimple on your wrist (where hand meets wrist above the thumb). If all of your jackets are tailored to this point, and your shirts fit properly, you’ll always show the proper amount of shirt cuff.



1. The dreaded collar gap!

THIS IS THE #1 CARDINAL SIN IN TAILORED CLOTHING!! The collar should always lay clean and tight against the back of a man’s neck. Collar gape is a telltale sign that a guy is in the wrong jacket. Sometimes it’s a sizing issue and sometimes it’s a balance issue. Whatever the case, make sure it doesn’t happen to you!


These are the TOP things to look for when buying fine tailored clothing. By following these ten guidelines you’re bound to sharp in your suit. If any of these rules apply to a suit you are currently wearing, please contact The Helm ASAP.

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