I've noticed a few other members expressing the same or similar problem I have, namely, the perennial problem of fit and selection for short and slim men. By short and slim I primarily mean those fellows who wear 36S or 37S. I am 5'7" and wear a 36S with a 29 inch waist. This recent posting on the Valentino suit/short man woes (believe me, I'm laughing with you not at you) has inspired me to see if we can marshal our collective wisdom and experience for the better. Over the years I have spent countless hours searching for correctly fitting trousers that do not billow out like a tent at the seat or trouser leg, suit jackets with the right drop (7 inch drop), shirts that do not require swimming lessons and ties that are short enough to be tied with a four-in-hand knot and not hang below the belt. Keep in mind that my shopping guide below is primarily restricted to RTW and some MTM. If you go fully bespoke (which I have not yet), I would imagine sartorial life would be much easier. Let's start at items that typically *do not* cause the above headaches. For me these are: (1) Shoes: For American shoes, I find Allen-Edmonds to offer the best value in terms of quality and price (esp. during the holiday sales, ~$130-180 per pair), as well as Bennies Shoes for their Grensons. I have a narrow foot and low instep and the Grensons have a great grip on the instep. (2) Belts: Although I have a size 29 waist, I find that size 30 works well and 30 belts are not that difficult to find. I have been happy with Lands End belts. There have been one or two threads recently on quality belts as well. Martin Dingman and Trafalgar belts seem to be well-regarded. Now for the troublemakers: (1) Dress/casual trousers. If you are slim and short and wear a 28 or 29 waist, I suggest you look at the Brooks Brothers trousers for boys. Yes, you read that right. BB offers moleskin, cords and wool twills in boys sizes. I wear their size 18 trousers which correspond to a 29 waist. Check the size chart on the BB website for the closest size to you. Other trouser brands I fit well in are Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, J. Crew and Gap. Bill's Khakis offers 26 and 28 waist trousers and it seems that one can special order 29 inch trousers according to one retailer I spoke to in Pasadena (but I haven't tried any of their trousers yet). (2) Suits. Sigh, this category is full of potholes. Typical problems include: wide lapels, excessive length of jacket, insufficient drop on waist and excessive fabric and room around the chest. For 36S, my best fitting RTW suit is a Brioni Millennio suit (3 button, narrow lapels and slim-fitting, short rise flat front trousers). I've also fit reasonably well in Armani Le Collezioni, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein. I think others have mentioned Jil Sander, Paul Stuart and RLPL. I haven't tried yet the Brooks boys Brooksease suits but I suspect they will fit well. Another option is MTM. I'm probably going to try Brooks which works with Martin Greenfield for its MTM suits. BB MTM suits start at $950, which seems like a pretty decent price for a fully canvassed suit. (3) Jackets. For 36S, I recommend J. Press and Brooks Brothers through the website or catalog, though some of the BB mens jackets are cut a bit long for me. If the mens jackets are too long for you, check out, once again, the BB boys section. The BB size 18 jackets fit me like a glove and are very affordable esp. on sale. They're made in Mexico so don't expect handtailored finishing but the fit is almost perfect for me. (4) Dress shirts. Invariably, I seem to need alterations of nearly all RTW shirts I've tried. For a long time I wore Lands End trim fit buttondowns, as well as some old Custom Shop shirts I had made awhile ago. Brooks also has slim fit dress shirts. Now I'm trying out Jantzen shirts and am happy so far with my initial shirt order. I will need to make some adjustments but I'm going to be patient and stick with Jantzen for now. For better or worse, I think the best bet in shirts is to go custom. (5) Ties. Most ties seem to be at least 56" long and 3.75" wide, which is simply too long and too wide for me. I'm looking for 3" wide and 52-54" ties and frankly I don't know of any RTW ties that regularly come in that size. I've had hit or miss luck with Boss, Armani, Prada, Polo and the occasional vintage tie. So the long term answer here seems to be custom ties. I haven't explored these custom shops yet but am hoping to check out Tiecrafters and Saint Laurie in the US. Overseas, there is of course Marinella, which I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting.
post #1 of 20
1/2/05 at 2:50am