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On Jacket Length

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

Wow, how often does this come up and how useless are answers to it, at least in helping the questioner.

 

Here’s the problem, aside from a few geographical landmarks, well maybe one, and a basic aesthetic principle, if you ask SF about this, you’ll end up with varied answers mostly because people are using different standards and not telling you what their standards are. Further, photos are going to distort things as well. You’re polling in the worst sort of conditions.

 

You have to figure it out for yourself. What follows is advice and not a set of rules.

 

[Disclaimer: I'm not an expert. It's warm today. I'm bored. And I just saw this question asked again]

 

Advice 1: Cover your ass.

 

A good rule for life in general, but certainly for tailored menswear.

 

Practical advice: Find the fork of the trousers. If the jacket hits there, then your ass is covered.

 

Advice 2: Advice 1 (just to reiterate)

 

Advice 3: Aesthetically, lengthen the leg line without lengthening the torso, aiming for a vertical balance between torso and leg line.

 

Bisection is a good place to start, but you can move up or down using Advice 1 as your anchor point.

 

Practically: You have to look at lots of pictures of others who you think strike the right balance (also look at good examples in person). Look at lots of examples. Really. Dressing well is partly about learning to look.

 

Here's one of me, with the jacket in the range I like:

 

 

 

See if your jackets emulate that. In a store, try an L, an R, and an S. Take pics of each. Ask yourself: which do I like? Does it strike a balance I find aesthetically pleasing between the top and bottom half while covering my ass.

 

Asking even knowledgeable people to tell you on the basis of a picture you upload to SF, taken at different angles, is likely not going to help you avoid asking the same question again, probably with different responses. A never ending cycle of spinning your wheels.

 

Advice 4: Ideal length is a range, not a single value.

 

Don’t get fixated on a specific length. Don’t be an idiot. If it’s 0.5 inches longer or shorter, that’s ok. Really.

 

You might want something shorter for casual wear, something longer for more formal situations. You might vary for seasons, for material etc. This is the beauty of menswear: tasteful variation.

 

Advice 5: The Rule of Thumb

 

This is probably the most used and the least important “rule”. I am surprised how often people assess length from a torso shot. They are presumably using the “rule of thumb” or talking out of their ass, which ought to be covered.

 

Here’s what I think: arms vary in length, their relative position to landmarks on the body (e.g. the waist) varies, etc. This rule might be statistically successful in helping folks avoid way overshooting their specific sweet spot, but it won’t help noobs understand the point of finding the ideal range.

 

That said, on average, I personally find jackets that go beyond the thumb to feel too long for most in that I can’t help think that they are like a schoolboy whose parents bought them a jacket two sizes too big in hopes of having the boy wear the same outfit for two or three years. But that’s an expression of an aesthetic and personal pet peeve, after assessing for coverage and balance, not enunciating a rule.

 

Advice 6: For well-meaning StyFoDudes...

 

The best way to help someone, if you feel like you must answer the above question, is to explain why you think its just right, too long, or too short.

 

Ok, fire away. Disagree, agree, add, subtract. Heck post pics. Ask for advice.

post #2 of 34

As many (including myself) have observed in the past, the ‘thumb’ rule is the least reliable since, as you indicate, arm length as proportionally related to height is so variable.  One needs only think of how hard it is to get a perfect off-the-rack sleeve length in a shirt to see the problem.

 

It’s also worth remembering what made that particular ‘rule’ so popular in the first place:  the rise of ready-to-wear standard-size garments and, in particular, the selling of these in department stores by employees who were simply salesmen with no training or understanding of the principles of tailoring.  The ‘rule’ allowed untrained personnel to start selling suits by providing them with a simply rationale which seemed plausible to similarly uneducated consumers.

 

I find more interesting the question of whether whatever ‘rule’ one follows remains the same whether one is talking about a suit jacket or an odd jacket.  While in principle one would think it should, in practice I think it’s safe to say, at very least, that a badly proportioned relation between jacket and trousers is more obvious in the case of odd combinations owing the greater top/bottom contrast than it is in the case of a suit.

 

Cheers,

 

Ac

post #3 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Academic2 View Post
 

I find more interesting the question of whether whatever ‘rule’ one follows remains the same whether one is talking about a suit jacket or an odd jacket.  While in principle one would think it should, in practice I think it’s safe to say, at very least, that a badly proportioned relation between jacket and trousers is more obvious in the case of odd combinations owing the greater top/bottom contrast than it is in the case of a suit.

 

Cheers,

 

Ac

 

I advocate for talking about advice rather than rules though Advice 1 is probably worth calling a rule for this point in time.

 

Your point about odd jackets versus suits is reasonable. That said, it is possible to be clearly too long in the jacket in a navy suit...it just might allow for a broader range than in SCs.

post #4 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TweedyProf View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Academic2 View Post
 

I find more interesting the question of whether whatever ‘rule’ one follows remains the same whether one is talking about a suit jacket or an odd jacket.  While in principle one would think it should, in practice I think it’s safe to say, at very least, that a badly proportioned relation between jacket and trousers is more obvious in the case of odd combinations owing the greater top/bottom contrast than it is in the case of a suit.

 

Cheers,

 

Ac

 

I advocate for talking about advice rather than rules though Advice 1 is probably worth calling a rule for this point in time.

 

Your point about odd jackets versus suits is reasonable. That said, it is possible to be clearly too long in the jacket in a navy suit...it just might allow for a broader range than in SCs.

 

But of course.  And it's possible to be too short, too.  My point was not that suits and odd combinations differ in kind, rather that they differ in degree and that, other factors being equal, suits tend to be a bit more forgiving.

 

(Also not my scare-quotes around 'rule'  :).)

 

Cheers,

 

Ac

post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Academic2 View Post
 

 

But of course.  And it's possible to be too short, too.  My point was not that suits and odd combinations differ in kind, rather that they differ in degree and that, other factors being equal, suits tend to be a bit more forgiving.

 

(Also not my scare-quotes around 'rule'  :).)

 

Cheers,

 

Ac


As an academic, like you, I'm extremely sensitive to square quotes and their use. Rest assured, I knew what you meant and we are in agreement.

post #6 of 34

I generally try to follow advice #1 in addition to the bisection rule that I've seen mentioned a few times (not sure by whom). That the jacket should roughly end halfway between your shoulders and the ground bisecting you vertically.

 

I've been the victim of short jacket criticism many times on this forum. It has been warranted many of those times. However, I posses 'monkey arms' with a 25.5 - 26" sleeve length on jackets from the shoulder seam. In addition I have short legs with roughly a 29.5" inseam on my trousers. This combination makes the 'rule of thumb' nearly always suggest that my jackets are short. Something I think some people have not recognized.

 

FWIW I think that this jacket is about the right length for myself:

 

Photo 37 of 79

 

All of that said, I think the preference on SF for a bit longer jackets is a correct one. Open quarters also really help to balance out longer jackets IMO.

post #7 of 34
Thread Starter 

@luv2breformed 

 

Thanks for the example. I think something that might make it look short to others is how it sits on your hips at least in this pic. The jacket flares out a bit, but this might be exaggerated by your crooked stance (e.g. your right side). I doubt lengthening the jacket length 0.5 inches would disrupt the bisection point but might allow the jacket line to come back to vertical. 

 

But honestly: if you like the length here, I just don't see a good reason for someone to criticize it along that dimension. I think it looks fine though I would not go shorter. 

post #8 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by TweedyProf View Post
 

@luv2breformed 

 

Thanks for the example. I think something that might make it look short to others is how it sits on your hips at least in this pic. The jacket flares out a bit, but this might be exaggerated by your crooked stance (e.g. your right side). I doubt lengthening the jacket length 0.5 inches would disrupt the bisection point but might allow the jacket line to come back to vertical. 

 

But honestly: if you like the length here, I just don't see a good reason for someone to criticize it along that dimension. I think it looks fine though I would not go shorter. 

 

I've never noticed/thought about the flaring. Honestly, if the quarters are open enough I think you are probably right about it. I just get concerned that my legs are going to look stumpier than they already are.

 

I really find myself waffling because I am pear-shaped and bottom heavy and need the jacket to cover that up cleanly, while also making sure that the jacket is not too long and makes me look short. I think I will commission my next MTM to be .5" longer than this jacket as you suggest.

post #9 of 34
I think your comment about ideal length being a range is a good one. I have bespoke suits from different tailors and the length of my jackets varies from tailor to tailor. They each work in their own way with the possible exception of my lone suit from Chittleborough & Morgan. Joe Morgan likes to cut a long jacket, which is a little too long for my tastes.

As for RTW, my RLPL suits are a little long for me, but I don't really mind and I have not been tempted to have them shortened although I believe they can be by a good alterations tailor.
post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by luv2breformed View Post

 

I really find myself waffling because I am pear-shaped and bottom heavy and need the jacket to cover that up cleanly, while also making sure that the jacket is not too long and makes me look short. I think I will commission my next MTM to be .5" longer than this jacket as you suggest.

 

I'm not sure I would bother. I can't tell from that pic and I wouldn't trust anyone's judgment based on a pic. A good tailor looking at you in person with the suit on is who to trust. I think it looks fine. If you enjoy wearing that suit, then leave it at that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bry2000 View Post

I think your comment about ideal length being a range is a good one. I have bespoke suits from different tailors and the length of my jackets varies from tailor to tailor. They each work in their own way with the possible exception of my lone suit from Chittleborough & Morgan. Joe Morgan likes to cut a long jacket, which is a little too long for my tastes.
 

That's nice to have different examples in your wardrobe. I'd ask you to post a couple of examples, but understand why you might not wish to. I will look to find some images of C&M suits for some data.

post #11 of 34
I have never posted a pic on the web. I have been tempted to lately so maybe in the future I will.
post #12 of 34
There is a thread on SF that has some good pics of the C&M silhouette . A member once posted his fittings and maybe his finished suit. My suit has an eerily similar shape.
post #13 of 34
So my rule of thumb is pretty easy:

- Formal dark suits (flap pockets, no "fun" socks, white or blue shirt, dark shoes) the length looks best on the longer side but not too long. This is not for travel jackets mixed with jeans. This is when you want a look of formality and authority. This will probably be dark navy.

- Classic sport coats, always cover your rear.

-Fashionable, travel and casual jackets- shorter looks best and looks "right". These will always have patch pockets, soft shoulder and worn mixed with sportswear, khakis, jeans, chinos, patterned shirts, distinctive shoes, etc. If you are middle-age you will look a bit younger going shorter. This is the jacket you want for travel, grabbing to head out to eat without a tie and to wear with more casual pants.

All this being said...length doesn't matter if the rest of the jacket isn't tailored properly.
post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 

 

http://www.styleforum.net/t/350970/adventures-in-bespoke-chittleborough-morgan/30#post_6904573


Tailoring seems really distinctive here, assuming this is typical of the "house cut".

 

Focusing on length and the fact that this is a full length shot, it does seem to fall below the fork of the trousers, so ass is covered. Go ahead and apply your use of the rule of thumb but note: Hard to assess aesthetic length without seeing a full length pic.

 

Here's two shots of the full length

 


I think length looks great given the nature of the suit. You might reflect on the geographical landmarks and how relying on only one might lead to erroneous judgments. 


Edited by TweedyProf - 4/17/16 at 5:57am
post #15 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GusW View Post

So my rule of thumb is pretty easy:

- Formal dark suits (flap pockets, no "fun" socks, white or blue shirt, dark shoes) the length looks best on the longer side but not too long. This is not for travel jackets mixed with jeans. This is when you want a look of formality and authority. This will probably be dark navy.

- Classic sport coats, always cover your rear.

-Fashionable, travel and casual jackets- shorter looks best and looks "right". These will always have patch pockets, soft shoulder and worn mixed with sportswear, khakis, jeans, chinos, patterned shirts, distinctive shoes, etc. If you are middle-age you will look a bit younger going shorter. This is the jacket you want for travel, grabbing to head out to eat without a tie and to wear with more casual pants.

All this being said...length doesn't matter if the rest of the jacket isn't tailored properly.


This is a useful elaboration of advice #4. The last point is important and highlighted.

 

One note: your rule of thumb presupposes having a sense of the mean of one's ideal range which is what the OP is trying to help people learn to figure out for themselves. 

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