At best, with proper fit and proportions, a suit is one of the most flattering outfits a man can wear, regardless of his height or stature. At worst, a suit makes a man look like a kid playing dress up! Unfortunately, this is often the case when short men buy suits off the rack from big department stores and popular brands that cater to the masses. So how should a suit fit? What do shorter men have to keep in mind when wearing a suit? What should you look for when you’re buying a suit?
Look for a jacket with slimming and lengthening details
If you want to look taller, look at the lapels, sleeves, button placement, and length of your jacket. Slim lapels will make your chest and shoulders look long and lean. Peak lapels are quite wide, so consider suits with shawl or notch lapels instead. Similarly, sleeves that hug your arms will make them look slim and long. If they’re too wide, your arms will look short and stout. Remember that the end of your sleeves should hit somewhere between the base of your thumb and wrist, with a peek of dress shirt showing.
To look proportionate and make your legs look longer, find a jacket with higher button positioning and a slightly shorter length. Suit jackets typically fall to cover your rear, or the hem aligns with your knuckles. You can get away with slightly shorter jackets that will expose more of your leg, making you look taller. Waist buttons placed higher than usual will do the same thing, making your torso and legs look longer.
Choose mid to high drop pants that match your jacket
Once you’ve found a jacket style and cut that suits your frame, you’ll want to find matching suit pants. When your suit jacket and pants match, you create a monochromatic look that elongates and streamlines your body. The eye moves up and down your outfit seamlessly, so you’ll look tall and lean.
The fit of your pants is critical if you want to look tall and sophisticated. Choose slim, gently tapering pants with a medium or high drop, which is the length of the pant crotch. If the drop is too low, your torso and legs will look small. Avoid pleated pants and cuffed hems, which can make your hips and legs look thick and stout. Finally, when getting your pants tailored, go with a partial break or no break at all. A full break may bunch up on your shoes and can draw attention to the length of your legs.
Common Suit Fit Problems for Short Men
Suits are some of the most complex garments men wear, so there are all sorts of fit problems shorter men can run into with suits.Here are the most common problems:
Sleeves are too long
This is probably the most common fit problem that shorter gents run into when they’re trying to buy a suit off the rack. Most manufacturers tend to make sleeves that are too long, assuming that shorter men will either accept the error or go to the tailor. The problem is, going to the tailor requires extra time and money, and sleeves with functioning buttons are very difficult (or impossible) to shorten.
The jacket is too long
Even “short” sizes (e.g., 38S) are often too long for men under 5’9”. While it’s possible to have a jacket shortened by a skilled tailor, this will often throw off the proportions of the garment. For example, chopping off two inches from the bottom of a jacket will make the buttons and pockets two inches closer to the hem, which will look strange.
Pants are too long
Most suit pants either come in standard lengths like 32 inches, or they’re sold with unfinished hemmed. Problem is, when you shorten pants by 5+ inches, they lose their original taper, which changes the whole silhouette. Either way, shorter men are usually out of luck if they want their suit pants to fit properly right off the rack.