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Collective tips on suits for short guys (like me)

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone on this board and over at Ask Andy's, I've managed to gather the following helpful recommendations on suits for us height-disadvantaged people. Special thanks goes to Spalla, for his extremely insightful recommendations on European tailoring. The jacket: - The waist button should be high, a little above where the ribcage ends. That is, if you'd like to enhance your leg height. Flusser recommends that the waist button be positioned so that the torso and legs are both at their maximum length, but hell if I know where that is. - The jacket should be on the short side, just enough to cover your seat. - The sleeves should taper to your wrists. - The pockets shouldn't be too high. - The armholes should be as high as possible. The point of these last two recommendations is the make the line between the armpit and the pocket as long as possible, giving the impression of height. - I haven't heard much about shoulder pads, but I think the consensus is: go for the thin ones. Ok, one thing eludes me: How do I properly position the breast pocket? I see pictures with it high, I see pictures with it low. Where is the recommended position for the breast pocket for a short person? And as for trouser help, I don't have any, because some people like pleats and others don't, and some people like cuffs and some don't. I personally don't mind high-rise trousers without cuffs, and at the most a single pleat, with a light break, but that's just me. Any thoughts/suggestions? I'm really angsting over the breast pocket issue. I spend too much time thinking about stuff like this.
post #2 of 15
Thread Starter 
Come on, dudes. You guys are more knowledgeable than I am about stuff like this. I'd like to hear what you all have to say, what you think could be added, and so on.
post #3 of 15
Sorry, mate, can't help you too much about suits. But, cuffs will make you appear even shorter. But, I think cuffs are expected for dress pants. Shoulder pads really depend on your build. If you're really skinny and square shouldered, thicker shoulder pads should help. I wouln't worry too much about being short unless you're shorter than the girl.
post #4 of 15
Alias, If I were you, I wouldn't worry about altering clothes to make myself look taller. The alterations might make you look off-balanced, and in my opinion, it's gonna play against you more than in your favour: except on pictures (or in movies if you act), people you meet know how tall you are. Whatever you do with clothes won't change your height.. Well okay, high-heel shoes would, but I assume that you are not wearing those. I find that the key to look good is to choose a style that makes me look well-balanced. This being said, there are not too many things that can be played with. The jacket has to be relatively tight or the shoulders and the hips or it will look terrible. There's not much choice there. Concerning the position of the buttons on the jacket and the position of the pockets: what I recommend is to take a picture of yourself from the front and scan it. Based on the latter, you could use some vector-drawing software to make a schematic of the picture and then play with the position of everything until the whole looks well balanced. This takes much less time and money than actually trying out different styles at your tailor shop until it feels right ;-) Concerning the armholes: I'm not sure if getting them as high as possible is the way to go. The problem with high armholes is that the seam joining the sleeve to the front of the jacket lies at an angle that deviates more from the vertical. Personally, I'm picky about the angle of this seam, which I want to be a smooth continuation of the line of the jacket at the waist. Once I'm satisfied with the depth of the jacket sleeve at the shoulder (from the side view), I have the armhole positioned such that there's no line discontinuity in the arm pit region (in my case, the bottom of the armhole usually lies a couple of cms below my armpits). This picture is a good example of what I mean: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news....15h.jpg Chirac's armholes are positioned lower than Bush, and I find his jacket to look much better from the front than Bush's. The high position of Bush's jacket armholes introduces a sharp discontinuity between the line of the jacket at the waist and the seam on the shoulder. It makes the jacket look less natural in my opinion. Plus, it makes Bush look more "bulky" than he is due to the seam on the shoulder being "less vertical". Blair's jacket is better, but again, there's a little bit of a discontinuity in the armhole area. Finally, about the pants: My legs are a bit short compared to my torso, and I find that pleatless pants give me a better balance: Flat-front pants make my legs appear slimmer and longer. Also, I prefer pants with a very small break, cuffless, and with a small difference between the thigh size and the hem size, to emphasize the vertical line at the front. If my legs were very long compared to my torso, then I would probably choose my pants as pleated with a larger break. Hope this helps, bern
post #5 of 15
RE: Breast pocket positioning - I think for short people, the higher, the better (within reason, of course). If the breast pocket is very low, it can look like you've taken a bigger, longer jacket and hacked some length off the bottom, leaving everything at 'tall man' proportion. For us short guys, it's imperative we avoid the "I'm wearing my dad's old jacket' look.   Also, in the same vein - medium-to-narrow shoulders, and a high positioning of the collar notch.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
NickM: Yeah, my suits have high notches, and the breast pocket cuts just above my nipple (he said nipple, huh huh huh.) Bush's shoulder pads are huge in that photo. Is he trying to bring back the linebacker look? I also wish I had more pictures of Edward, Duke of Windsor. I hear he was also 5' 4". Thanks for the suggestions, bern. I've looked at my suits and I think they look well balanced, with everything in proportion (although I do like my jackets on the short side.) And about that vector program thing... I actually sketch designs into notebook paper when I'm bored with nothing else to do.   Yeah, looking at my suits I think they're pretty well-proportioned. Maybe when I managed to find my digital camera, I'll post some pictures of me wearing it (sans my horrible mug, of course.) Hey bern, when were you planning on getting to the Zenith vs. Hahn's review?
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Bush's shoulder pads are huge in that photo. Is he trying to bring back the linebacker look? Yeah, looking at my suits I think they're pretty well-proportioned. Maybe when I managed to find my digital camera, I'll post some pictures of me wearing it (sans my horrible mug, of course.) Hey bern, when were you planning on getting to the Zenith vs. Hahn's review?
The review will be soon... Not sure exactly when, but in a matter of weeks, not months. I'm busy like a bee these days: had to attend a France/Korea workshop this week and have to attend a conference next week. As a side note, a few profs from Paris came to the workshop, and all had horrible, but horrible looking suits. One even had a suit made of some MC Hammer-type fabric. But anyway... When I'll be through with these meetings, I'll start writing the review and taking pictures. It's gonna be interesting, as both Zenith and Hahn are imperfect but in different areas. Ah, if only the two could combine somehow while keeping the Hahn's price tag ;-) bern
post #8 of 15
Quote:
If I were you, I wouldn't worry about altering clothes to make myself look taller. The alterations might make you look off-balanced, and in my opinion, it's gonna play against you more than in your favour:
i would have to disagree.  although you later mention proportion, there are certainly proportional and well-balanced things that can be done to attenuate one's height.  a good tailor should be able to assist in this regard although it never hurts to know yourself. i'm short but fairly muscularly built.  as such, i try to avoid looking overly wide or bulky in addition to not looking real short.  i especially agree with alias's comments on jacket length and button placement.   the only thing i would add is that the trousers can have a pretty significant effect as well.  i find that wearing them at my natural waist provides a longer vertical line.  also, a slight taper in the leg seems to work well for me.  i stick with pleated pants because my hips, quads, etc are too big to fit nicely into flat-front trousers.  obviously, some of these things are specific to my body type, but they may work for you as well. regards, dan
post #9 of 15
Alias, you are right--looking at pictures of the Duke of Windsor would be instructive. There are quite a few in Flusser's Dressing the Man. Last summer when I visited the Kiton factory they had several items from the Duke's wardrobe (which they had purchased at auction) on display. They told me that they had to make special "dummy/models" to display the Duke's wardrobe because he was so small. At 5'8", I have the same concerns that you do. Two quick points. First, I disagree with Bern's statement about high armholes. His problem with Bush's suit is not really that the armhole is high, but that it is padded and the shoulder extends beyond the natural shoulder, creating what Bern refers to as a seam angle that "deviates more from the vertical." Check out the typical Neopolitan jacket--very high armhole, and the seam is on an almost vertical angle. As an added bonus, also very comfortable. Second, I think that even us short guys need cuffs on suit pants. They give weight to the bottom of the pant and give it a better drape, which creates a better line. If the break is a small one, I don't think the cuff detracts from the vertical line of the pant. A dress pant without a cuff appears to me to be almost a gimmick, a relic of the 70's, something that calls attention to itself. But that's just my opinion.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
First, I disagree with Bern's statement about high armholes.  His problem with Bush's suit is not really that the  armhole is high, but that it is padded and the shoulder extends beyond the natural shoulder, creating what Bern refers to as a seam angle that "deviates more from the vertical."  Check out the typical Neopolitan jacket--very high armhole, and the seam is on an almost vertical angle.  As an added bonus, also very comfortable.
Hm, I do have a ready-made suit that has rather high armholes and on which the "line" separating the sleeve from the chest is more "vertical". For that suit, in the armpit area, you can't see the seam from the front: rather, the "line" is created by some excess fabric in the chest area which overlaps the seam. In the picture I posted above, Chirac's suit has a bit of excess fabric in the chest area, which seems to overlap the seam in the armpit region, and helps create a smoother line joining the waist and the seam on the shoulder. But, personally, I don't like excess fabric in the chest area: I want it to lay flat on my chest to avoid vertical ondulations (similar to those that can be seen on Chirac's jacket). In that case, the seam in the armpit region is visible, and I don't see any way other than playing with the size of the jacket armhole and the depth of the shoulder to ensure a continuity between the line of the jacket at the waist and the seam on the shoulder. [but I might be missing something: there might be another way to accomplish this: if you could post a picture with a closeup of your shoulder/chest, I might learn something] Regarding Bush's suit: whether the shoulders are too wide/padded or not was not the point I wanted to make. The point was, if the armhole size would be bigger, the line made of the seam joining the sleeve and the front of the jacket would be more "vertical". bern
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Regarding Bush's suit: whether the shoulders are too wide/padded or not was not the point I wanted to make. The point was, if the armhole size would be bigger, the line made of the seam joining the sleeve and the front of the jacket would be more "vertical".
Yeah, that's true. But still, I like high armholes because they allow me freedom of movement (so when I lift my arms up my jacket doesn't balloon like an opened umbrella; this feature comes in handy when gesticulating during speeches.) I also like my waist very trim, and slim in the chest area. Plus, my shoulder width is 18.25", mandated so by myself because anything narrower makes my head look huge. Because of all this, my shoulder-sleeve seams aren't so vertical. My sleeves hang from the shoulders, as opposed to curving outwards at the triceps, but nothing like what Dubya is pulling. I looked at some Duke of Windsor pictures in the aforementioned Dressing the Man, and I find his breast pockets cut rather low in most.
post #12 of 15
First of all, it is not 'short', it is vertically challenged. ...Alias, my advice is not to worry about looking taller, instead focus on finding tall women to dance with. ...when you are slow dancing with your face surrounded by boobs those tall guys will be very jealous.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
...Alias, my advice is not to worry about looking taller, instead focus on finding tall women to dance with.   ...when you are slow dancing with your face surrounded by boobs those tall guys will be very jealous.
I like this point of view.
post #14 of 15
Bern, I still haven't learned how to scan or post pictures (although my 9-year old daughter probably knows how), but if you can take a field trip to a store that carries Attolini or Kiton, you can see what I mean by a Neopolitan jacket (try one on while you're at it; you'll love the comfort of the higher armhole). There are also some good pictures in Roetzel's "Gentlemen, a Timeless Fashion." A lower armhole will extend the length of the seam connecting the arm to the jacket, because there is a longer point of contact. But I don't think it adds to the illusion of verticality, and it comes at a great cost, particularly if you don't want extra fabric in the chest area. I'm not a tailor, but I only know of two ways to give you freedom of movement in the jacket--the use of extra fabric (as in the scholte/blade suit) or a high armhole. You'll feel like you are in a straight jacket if you wear a close fitting jacket with a low armhole (or, having experienced the alternative, that's how I'd feel).
post #15 of 15
Quote:
...when you are slow dancing with your face surrounded by boobs those tall guys will be very jealous.
Reminds me of the scene in Police Academy III when the Japanese cadet whispers gratefully "I love America". Hey, the Asian guy thread is making it's ugly way here.
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