Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

How to Pick the Right Suit for Your Body Type

Why does James Bond always look so good when he struts into the room? It’s not the martini in one hand. It’s not the Walther PPK in the other hand. And it’s not the winning smile, though that helps.

Dima Sidelnikov/Getty Images

It’s the suit. A man wearing a suit with a perfect fit is a man looking as close to perfect as he can.

With a great suit comes confidence, poise, and added respect, both from those you meet and from the man in the mirror. But even the finest suits out there are no good if they don’t fit you well — in fact, you’d look better in a $100 suit from Target that happened to fit you perfectly than you would in an $8,800 handmade silk suit from Joe Bananas on Madison Avenue that fit you terribly. You’d look best in one of those that fit perfectly, for the record.

If you want to get the best suit for your body, you need to go to an expert tailor. If that’s not in the cards right now, then take some expert advice before you go out looking for your next pair of coat and trousers. We talked to was Scott Wicken, content director at menswear brand Combatant Gentlemen.

Wicken’s first major piece of advice?

Be Real About Your Body

“You need to be realistic about your body type,” Wicken explains. “The guy wearing a properly fitting suit that matches his body type is going to look a whole hell of a lot better than the guy trying to squeeze into something that’s not right for him. The reverse is true as well; feeling weird about wearing stuff that’s ‘too tight’ and overcompensating with a baggy fit is only going to have a disastrous effect on how you look.”

If You’re Big and Tall

Wicken says bigger guys should “opt for a suit with a proper amount of room in the chest and shoulders to accommodate your frame and make sure the stomach area is fitted but not tight. If you’re on the tall side, just make sure you’ve got the right length in your jacket and sleeves. Something too short or long is only going to enhance your height, and not in a good way.”

Hero Images/Getty Images

He adds that “finding a fit that works for the big and tall guy is about paying extra attention to the details and finding a suit cut that isn’t oversized, baggy, and too long. It might take some getting used to, but you still want things to fit properly. That is to say, trim but not tight, even on a broader frame or if you’ve got a belly. Avoid slim or narrow lapels, [as] they’ll look out of proportion with your size, and make sure your pants strike the right balance in fit. Don’t overlook the right hem either; an overly long pant hem is only going to make the pants look baggier, and therefore, sloppy.”

If You’re Muscular and Athletic

Wicken breaks it down: “Chances are, you’re broader up top with defined shoulders and a narrower waist, and that desirable V-shape you’ve got can be a tough fit when it comes to finding a suit. Often that standard suit set with a 10-or 8-inch drop between the jacket size and pants size isn’t going to work for you. Ideally, you want to look for suits that are sold as separates, meaning you can purchase the jacket size separately from the pant size, ensuring the right sizing. Fit-wise, you want to make sure you’ve got enough room where you need it but not too much that it looks like you’re wearing the wrong size. Depending on your size, a slim cut suit will work (just make sure it’s not too tight) or you can look for suiting that maintains a slim cut but has adjustments, like a slightly lower armhole and increased room in the chest to accommodate your frame. Lapel-wise, a medium to wide-width lapel is going to accentuate your V-shape and a nipped-in jacket waist is going to fit you properly without having to tailor excessively.”

Jason Kempin / Getty Images

“Jacket-wise, make sure you have enough room in the chest and shoulders and avoid extreme tightness in the bicep and popping of the lapel out from your chest (this indicates a jacket that is too small). You want to maintain the slim cut proportions with the pants and make sure the taper isn’t too tight; looking top-heavy is never a good thing.”

If You’re Slender

“As always, you want the right balance, slim but not tight,” Scott says. “Look for a slim cut (obviously) that features higher armholes and narrow proportions. Many slim guys still buy their suits too large so try going down a suit size by one, you might be surprised. Unless you’re popping out in all the wrong places, going down a size could give you a better-proportioned fit. Slim cut suits often have equally narrow lapels, which work well, but you could also opt for a peak or wider lapel if you want to give your shoulders a bit of heft and broadness. Below the waist, you’ll want the pants trim and with a nice taper, any billowing is only going to accentuate your slimness.”

Gregory Hayes / Unsplash

He elaborates: “Tight is never a good look, nor is it going to look right for a professional setting, regardless of how thin you may be. Alternatively, you want a trim fit — a baggy or billowy suit isn’t going to add heft or bulk, it’s only going to look baggy and draw attention to your thin frame. [Bigger guys should] skip the three-piece or vest addition, as it’s only going to add extra bulk to your substantial frame, [but] for thinner guys, you’ve got more freedom here, so try that three-piece option and go with a slimmer tie. But not too slim.”

Don’t Forget the Pants

Too often, men get hung up finding the perfect suit jacket and treat the pants like they’re not 50% of the ensemble. “No matter what your body type or size is, an overall proper fit and proper tailoring, so jacket cuffs, pant hems, pant waist, and seat are always key,” Scott says.

Go Easy on Accessories

Once you have the perfect suit, don’t gild that lily. “Don’t go overboard with suiting accessories;  keep it to one or two max,” Scott advises. “Over-accessorizing with tie bars, lapel pins, and pocket squares is a common mistake I see guys make, [but] simple is better. And keep the bowties to the tuxedos only.”

Editors' Recommendations

Steven John
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven John is a writer and journalist living just outside New York City, by way of 12 years in Los Angeles, by way of…
Ditch the ugly Christmas sweater: How to dress for a holiday party
Look your best while being festive, without the ugly Christmas sweater
style tips for holiday party outfits christmas

It's Christmas time again, which means your calendar is beginning to fill up with a bunch of parties — get-togethers with colleagues, family, neighbors, and friends (some of which you know will be a lot more fun than others). Holiday parties are a side product of the spirit and joy of the season, and with those parties come dress codes.

Of course, one thing that people love to ask for is the ugly Christmas sweater, but instead of subjecting yourself to the laughter and ridicule of the people in your circle, there are better ways to dress well and stay festive for all of the events you have on your calendar for the next few weeks.
Let your colors speak
One of the ways you can set your holiday wardrobe apart from the rest of the year is through color combinations. While red and green are the classic color scheme for Christmas, the combination often is garish and overdone. Instead, add in some more subtle winter colors or darker versions of the Christmas classics.

Read more
Were you recently promoted? How to upgrade your business professional attire
These wardrobe tips will help you build the sharpest, most promotion-worthy professional clothing collection
Blank for next editor

One of the core lessons we learn in our youth is never to judge a book by its cover; it's what's on the inside that counts. Well, we're here to tell you that that is terrible advice. It's human nature to make up your mind about someone the moment you meet them. When you enter a job interview, the interviewer subconsciously makes a lot of judgments about you on the spot. Think of it as a scale of 0–10, where 10 gets you hired and zero gets you pushed to the back of the unemployment line. The moment your interviewer lays eyes on you, you are either a 0 or a 10, and the rest of the interview will likely only reaffirm that number.

If you think it gets better once you have a job, guess again. It actually happens more often. As you move up in your company, you have the people above you and below you in rank going through the same process. This is why your professional wardrobe can make all the difference and even make you more money. Here's how. 

Read more
The Best Men’s Suit Deals to Shop For January 2022
the best black suits for men your next wedding date or work event

Suiting up requires care, attention to detail and of course, finding the right option for the right occasion, and that's particularly true as we move through January into a new year. Some call for more adventurous patterns and seasonal fabrics, while others demand a more traditional suit, to say the very least. Yes indeed, you need a great suit. Where's a guy to start? With our picks for the best suits, of course. Before you can do that though, be sure your tailoring is in fine form. If it feels as if you're out of practice, that's where we come in with our picks for refreshed suiting. You're going to have to put on a suit eventually, no doubt. And not just any suit: One of the best suits for men is the only way to go. On that note: Has there ever been a better time to buy one of the best men's suits? In our view, no, because there are plenty of men's suit deals worth shopping. The great thing is, you can save your hard-earned cash and still get the quality you need, even as you add a cheap men's suit to your wardrobe. Getting dressed should feel good and leave you looking good, and when it's good for your wallet, that's all the better. These are the best men's suit deals on the market from the best men's fashion brands right now.
Today's Best Cheap Men's Suit Deals

How to Choose a Men's Suit
Finding the Right Suit: Let's start things off by keeping it simple. Your suit should ideally reflect your lifestyle. If you wear suits frequently, or if you want to slowly but surely up your tailoring game, it's hard to go wrong with a classic, multi-season suit. While there are suits made for colder weather, with heavier fabrics, materials like cotton or lightweight wool (also known as tropical wool), with stretch, are going to be your best bet for day-to-day versatility.

Read more