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1st time suit buyer needs help please with jacket size

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Nice forum, 1st post: I'll be graduating at the end of this year and I'm looking to wear a nice traditional, black suit for the job interview. Everything is going okay except for the jacket size, here's my problem: I bought one of those soft tape measures and measured around my chest, under my arms and I'm about 38", over the shoulders 44" take away 6" is 38", also my waist size is 33" add 6" is 39" so I think add about an inch for comfort so let's call it 39" so I went on to try several different jacket sizes by myself to get a feel: the 38 Jacket was almost too tight to button and I could feel it grabbing me under the arms the 40 was still tight to button and I could feel it grabbing me under the arms the 42 was comfortable around the chest to button, but I noticed this uncomfortable feeling again under the arms at 46 I finally felt comfortable under the arms (when I say under the arms, I mean I could lift my arms above my head, raise them, run around and feel like the whole jacket isn't riding up my body.....this is what I would assume I would need in a jacket) but a 46 is too big of course! here's another thing: only the 38 is the right sleeve length.....anything bigger touches my palms when my arms are at my side (I'm skinny, only 145 pounds, 5' 10" so I'm only looking at regular length jackets, my sleeve length is 32" which is why I think only the 38 jacket is right when it comes to the sleeve length, waist size is 33" and inseam is 30") my neck measured at 16" but I figured to be comfortable I bought a 17-17.5 shirt......but i'm worried it looks a little too loose around the neck when i wear it I felt completely uncomfortable under the arms in anything smaller then a 46, the 38 is the only one with the right sleeve length but literally will break when i button it (to give you some perspective I normally wear a XL or bigger in a t-shirt to be comfortable) i don't want to get laughed at during the job interview, please help!
post #2 of 12
I'm not touching the "traditional black suit" - see other threads for more information.

1) Don't worry about sleeve length, as long as the sleeve buttons are non-functional (ie you can't button/unbutton them), the sleeve length can be tailored easily to the right length. Do worry about the overall length of the jacket itself - this cannot be tailored easily. With your arms resting by your side, I like a jacket to end around mid-thumb. Some small variation either way still looks fine.

2) I think you need some in-store advice. It's tricky to sense what you're describing from the verbal description. Deliberataly oversimplifying somewhat (before the fans of various more specialised styles start complaining): a jacket should fit neatly around shoulders with minimal overhang and there should be a smooth, unrippled line from shoulder downwards when your arms rest naturally. You should be able to button the chest comfortably. Don't worry if there's too much looseness around your waist - that can also be tailored away. Most armholes on ready-to-wear (RTW) garments tend to be fairly low so you shouldn't have too much trouble there once you get a chest and shoulder size that fits comfortably.

What you're really discovering for the first time is that most RTW garments fit few people. You have a two options - EITHER compare lots and lots of RTW brands to fit one that suits your physique fairly well - there's likely to be one out there - in the most important areas (shoulder, chest, jacket length) and then spend some extra money getting it tailored to fit better OR go to made-to-measure and get a suit tailored to fit you properly from the get-go.

Happy hunting, either way!
post #3 of 12
sounds to me like you've never worn a suit before in your life and you just need to get used to wearing a suit. Go to a menswear store and find an experienced salesperson who can help you with size and fit. Also, skip black for an interview suit and go with charcoal and navy (I would recommend navy, but charcoal is acceptable as well). There's no way that a guy whose chest measurement under the arms is 38" should be wearing a size 46 suit unless he has somekind of serious deformity.
post #4 of 12
First off, a black suit is not appropriate for a job interview. Charcoal and navy would be better choices.

For the sizing problems, your best bet is to go in-store and have a sales person help you. He/she will also recommend a place where you can have the suit altered to better fit you.
post #5 of 12
for your first suit buy dark grey. if your chest size is 38 and your pants are 33, a 38 or 40 (depending on the make and model) should fit you just fine. there is no reason to go bigger than that. don't concern yourself with sleeve length. everyone has to alter that after they buy the suit. also, don't trust the salespeople at the stores. they usually don't know what they're talking about. seek out a friend or relative who knows how to dress.
post #6 of 12
Originally Posted by matadorpoeta
also, don't trust the salespeople at the stores. they usually don't know what they're talking about. seek out a friend or relative who knows how to dress.

In most cases a friend or relative who knows how to dress is a lot more difficult to find than an experienced and capable salesperson. Just look at how the salesperson himself is dressed to make your judgment. In fact, friends or relatives might be the worst people to go to.
post #7 of 12
like everyone here say, get either grey or navy suit.

in terms of jacket fit, stick with the size that gives you the best fit around the chest area.
post #8 of 12
At 5'10" and 145 lbs, I'm convinced you would fit a 38 or 40. Most likely, the 38 fits your shoulders properly - you might need a bigger cut around the waist - if so, try a different brand. Most guys your size wear a size 40, but most guys usually wear their suits too big across the shoulders.

It sounds to me you're just fixated on a baggy fit for "comfort". There is no way you should be wearing a size 17-17.5 shirt. A properly fitting suit does not mean you can lift your arms above your head, run around, etc. without riding up. A baggy fit is not a good thing when it comes to suits, especially for a skinny guy like you. What you're describing isn't just's cartoonish. i.e. XL t-shirts on a guy your size is baggy - L is a normal fit. Just get used to non-baggy sizes for dress clothes.

I would suggest looking at some pictures of suit ads, or some of the suit pictures on this board to get an idea of how proper fitting suits look like. I think you'd agree they're generally pretty fitted. With a proper fitting suit, you're going to feel the fabric around you. It shouldn't feel tight when you're standing still with your arms by your side, but it will definitely move with you.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure the proper sized suit jacket will feel tight to you at first simply because you're not used to it. I used to wear baggy clothes too - I wore larger sizes at 16 than I do now at 22.

And for colour, solid charcoal is the best choice, followed by navy.
post #9 of 12
The chests and shoulders of all my suits lift off my body when I raise my arms. I'm pretty sure this happens to everyone whose armholes aren't perfectly sized and positioned (read: bespoke/custom). I don't find this bothers me much, though it sure would if I conducted an orchestra.

Here are a couple of fitting notes I've found helpful. Sometimes an experienced suit or shirt fitter will suggest deviating from one of these to accomodate a specific feature of your body, a rounded back, long arms or short legs, for example.

I have a 16" neck. I wear a shirt neck size of 16 or 16.5, depending on the brand.

A correctly sized shirt should have the armhole seam resting on your shoulder bone or slightly further out, but not a whole inch past your shoulder bone. Your shirt sleeves should be long enough so they don't ride up your arm when you hold your arms straight out in front of you. The shirt cuff will reach the base of your palm.

The jacket shoulder seam should lie on your shoulder bone or up to an inch past it on either side, depending on the suit style. The less padding in the jacket shoulder, the closer to the shoulder bone the jacket can be fitted. Some here will comment that there are soft shouldered jackets where the armhole seam is a solid inch past the shoulder bone, but these are less common than the standard american shoulders of Brooks Brothers, Hickey Freeman, Polo, etc.

The jacket should be long enough to cover your ass completely. It should hang to reach the point where the curve of your ass reaches your leg. The jacket may extend up to 1 inch beyond this. Consider a Short size if the jacket extends more than an inch beyond the curvature of your ass. I wear a couple of Shorts in some brands, regular in others, and I'm 5'10".

Jacket sleeve length is easily altered. Most choose to allow 1/4"-3/8" of shirt sleeve to show under the jacket sleeve when your arms are resting at your side.Your suit sleeves will ride up a bit to show more shirt cuff in certain positions, like sitting at a desk, so consider showing only 1/4" of shirt sleeve with arms at rest.

The suit will need to be altered for the sleeve length and trouser length. One trouser length rule is that the hem should hit the third lace up from the toe of your shoes, or be slightly longer. If there are horizontal ripples of fabric behind the collar of your jacket, the collar should be lowered. This is a common alteration, and should cost less than $40.

Good luck!
post #10 of 12
The jacket length and fit around the shoulders and chest are non-negotiables. Fit at the armholes sounds like your biggest problem. As long as you can raise your arms somewhat to start with, that can be modified by a good tailor. In fact, even if you think it fits well, go to a good tailor. He or she is likely to notice details that were missed, especially around the upper back. After any changes, you'll simply have to get used to proper fit.
post #11 of 12
You should feel some pinching under the arms. I weight alittle more than you...155 and wear a 38 or 39 regular.
post #12 of 12
Sometimes style and comfort don't go together, unless you're wearing a zoot suit. Your clothes should be snug, especially since you're rather skinny.
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