Jacket Length: The Right Rule?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by TweedyProf, Jul 27, 2012.

  1. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    4,169
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    First post…I should be working, but having asked this question a lot myself and searching the various threads here, I’m struck by the fact that this comes up so often and really not enough clear, univocal advice.

    A common rule is by invoking some claim about jacket length relative to the position of your hands (thumbs, curling your fingers, etc.). As a first assessment of jacket length, this rule seems to me a bad one since, as often pointed out, arm length is different, so the position of your hand, with arm hanging down, relative to the rest of your body will differ from person to person. So, as a general rule, “at your first thumb knuckle” isn’t one you should go by if you haven’t figured out proper jacket length on your body. I wish people would stop repeating this. It confused me for a long time.

    Indeed, too many members invoke this when answering the “jacket too long” question in threads, which I suspect continues to generate confusion since the rule is so body-relative. This probably prolongs continued threads about this. I often look at pictures where a member simply comments with “an inch too short/long” where I can’t see it, especially when one doesn’t even have a whole body shot! I suspect they are applying a relative to hand rule indiscriminately across the board.

    “Cover your ass” is the most commonly heard rule, which leads to the question, how much? Several members have posted what seems to me the best rule:

    The Right Rule: cover your ass while giving the longest possible leg-line.

    OK, the name is provocative!

    This seems to me where everyone assessing jacket length for the first time should start. It gives the “lower bound” on length of the jacket (sorry, I’m really an academic”). It seems the most general rule that accommodates different body proportions, while achieving an aesthetically pleasing, classic look.

    Of course, this leads one to wonder where one’s ass really ends (I’ve seen this question too), but it seems to me a simple guideline might just so long as length is not above than your crotch, just where the inseams meet. Does that sound right? Of course, you can then use your hands as a good reference point for your own body proportions. Just don’t promote the same rule for someone of a different body type!

    One “academic question”: is there a conflict between the “right” rule and one that invokes the midway point from shoulder to the floor, e.g. Flusser’s?

    This does lead to a question for discussion: how much leeway is there once you’ve found your correct jacket length? For example, can you let your sport coats go an inch shorter (as some have suggested)?

    Once we’ve set the rules, it would be a good discussion to see how much one can play with it. I invite forum members to post well-lit, full-length shots, front and back, of themselves or others to discuss jacket length. Namely, (a) does the subject adhere to the right rule above and (b) does any deviation seem ok, given other considerations (e.g. maybe you have very short arms, and thus, maybe a slightly shorter jacket would work). The best pictures would not be from high up, but probably straight on at the midline, so no angle distortion.

    Two sample posts on the nice tailor’s thread:

    Emptym

    http://www.styleforum.net/t/265924/...dback-and-alteration-suggestions#post_4815508

    whose length looks just right by the above rule (pictures are nicely lit and at the right angle) and

    Acecow

    http://www.styleforum.net/t/265924/...ck-and-alteration-suggestions/15#post_4821631

    A Tailor comments that the jacket is short, which is consistent using the right rule. I wouldn’t have thought it was drastically short compared to jackets one’s sees nowadays. Nor do I think it looks bad at all. So maybe within the leeway of playing with the right rule?
     


  2. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

    Messages:
    12,643
    Likes Received:
    1,709
    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2008
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    The jackets I'm wearing now are often considered long, but when I first bought them they were considered short. Those that i've had for any length of time that is. There is no hard rule on this one, since it changes with fashion.

    I've been selecting shorter jackets, but have also considered that at some point the trend will turn and whats short now will be considered very short.
     


  3. NORE

    NORE Senior member

    Messages:
    5,495
    Likes Received:
    299
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Location:
    Back On Here
    

    I dislike when I see any portion of a man's posterior peeking out from under his coat. Save the short jacket for womenswear.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012


  4. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    4,169
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Hi NORE
    So, less leeway on the "cover" rule for you? How's acecow's fit on length for you?
     


  5. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    4,169
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    @SkinnyGoomba
    So, I'm guessing you're a few inches above the "cover your ass" border?

    Alas, for those of us on an (academic) budget, I'm not sure we have the luxury to go too much with current fashion, especially if they are on the extreme end of what is deemed "classic".
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012


  6. MyOtherLife

    MyOtherLife Senior member

    Messages:
    6,501
    Likes Received:
    473
    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2009
    Location:
    The Arena - Centerfield
    A guideline I have always adhered to is that the overall length completely covers the butt with a 1 inch excess being acceptable. Extend your arm as though you are about to shake hands. The cuff should rest on the wrist line -or- at rest, the jacket cuff may (arguably) reveal a sliver (1/4") of shirt cuff. The pants should break slightly above the shoes. The jacket collar should cleave to the neck and the lapels should rest without any break on the chest. A slight waist supression should be visible when the jacket is buttoned and very little pull around the buttoned area of the jacket is fine. There are different gorges available so let the gorge compliment the proportions of the man wearing the jacket. Welcome to Styleforum, TweedyProf.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012


  7. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    33,479
    Likes Received:
    8,848
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Location:
    New York City
    I think it depends on your proportions. If you have longer legs, just covering your butt would still make the jacket look short. If you have a longer torso covering your ass will look too long. It is really case by case, imo. The best thing is to ask a tailor who has a good sense of proportion.
     


  8. ddsg

    ddsg Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    89
    Likes Received:
    8
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2011
    I'm of this opinion as well. While arm length may vary, so does torso length.

    In my case, I have a slim, short build with a long torso and comparatively pronounced behind. Any jacket long enough to cover my ass, even the most fitted ones, makes me look like I'm wearing a too large hand me down and accentuates my shortness.

    One thing that might have an impact as well in my opinion is the height of a person relative to the observer. Different angles (for example a tall person looking at a short one) will affect the perceived length of the jacket and other proportions.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2012


  9. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

    Messages:
    4,032
    Likes Received:
    1,646
    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Per Pat's suggestion, go talk to a tailor. Jacket length is just as subjective as button stance.
     


  10. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    4,169
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Well this is already helpful!

    I hadn't thought about the longer torso, shorter height possibility (@ddsg). Or the very long legs possibility (@Pat). Probably because I have neither!

    I'm the sort of person who likes to find general rules, if possible. But the "Right Rule" isn't right for some, so provocative name retracted!

    Does this mean the Flusser rule noted above is a better way to go (if I remember it correctly)? So for ddsg, it's going to be higher than the formerly right rule suggests and for longer-legged friends, it might be lower, but roughly the mid point between shoulder and floor? Maybe that's closer to the "truth".

    I still would like to think there's a little objectivity here about length. Your tailor with a good sense of proportion shouldn't be guessing, and what he or she sees should be something we can approximate in words, even if we have to add caveats...
     


  11. NORE

    NORE Senior member

    Messages:
    5,495
    Likes Received:
    299
    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Location:
    Back On Here
    

    TBH, I don't click links posted by new members. Sorry.
     




  12. TweedyProf

    TweedyProf Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Messages:
    4,169
    Likes Received:
    2,715
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2012
    Hmmm...haven't actually tried this, but wonder if this actually won't come out a bit longer than the "cover your ass" rule...but hey, obviously this depends on anatomy! No pictures please! [​IMG]
     


  13. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

    Messages:
    4,310
    Likes Received:
    78
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008


  14. Balfour

    Balfour Senior member

    Messages:
    575
    Likes Received:
    143
    Joined:
    May 27, 2012
    Location:
    Mid-Atlantic
    I agree with your 'cover your ass' rule - the emptym pic looks about right for me. I try to go no further in length than that, as I'm short-average height (but fortunate in that my proportions allow me to cover my ass!).

    My jacket lengths do not fluctuate with fashion trends (well, only if you count half-centuries!).
     


Share This Page

Styleforum is proudly sponsored by