Fit makes the man: Above the Waist Edition
Posted on November 21, 2012
Listen fellas, before we go any farther I have some unfortunate news for you: your clothes don’t fit you. I know, because if your clothes fit you, you probably wouldn’t be reading my blog. Today I’m going to teach you everything you need to know about the fit of shirts, sweaters, jackets, and overcoats.
Let’s just get this over with. The seam where your arm hole meets your torso fabric is for your shoulder. It needs to sit on the edge of your shoulder within an eighth of an inch. If your (the name should have been a hint) shoulder seam sits on your upper arm, the garment doesn’t fit. “But Autumn! Then the sleeves wouldn’t be long enough!” you yell. Yes, the garment doesn’t fit. That’s what I’m saying.
Do you see where that shoulder seam is? If your shoulder seam is anywhere else, you are wrong.
You know those people who look really stylish and attractive? They put effort into that. If you have trouble finding a shirt where the shoulder seam sits correctly on the shoulder and the length is appropriate, you need to try on more shirts. That’s the game. You have to go hunting for a brand or style that fits your body. It’s not fun and it takes time. The dressing room is your friend.
The fit of the garment is going to depend on your body type. When we are discussing above the waist garments for men there are only three body types that are going to significantly effect your fit:
1. Skinny- You fucking know what skinny means.
2. Triangle- Wide shoulders and a slender waist.
3. Stocky- Not skinny? Square shaped torso? Congratulations, you’re stocky.
If you’re fat you follow the guidelines for stocky. That does not mean stocky men are fat.
The shoulder seam goes on the shoulder. This rule applies to all garments and all body types. It is the foundation upon which you will build your above the waist wardrobe. T-shirts should come a little below the top of your pants. To the bottom of your belt at most and to the top of your belt at least. Somewhere in the middle is ideal.
Skinny- You’re going to buy slim cut t-shirts that conform to your body. This is ideal for two reasons. 1) Baggy shirts will make you look even thinner and probably sickly. 2) You are the body type that gets to wear a lot of layers. You’re already cold; embrace how great you look with twelve shirts on. Your t-shirt is probably going to be the layer closest to your skin and it needs to fit accordingly so it doesn’t get twisted and bunched up under a sweater.
Do you see how it is slim against the sides of his torso. That’s what you’re going to look for in a t-shirt.
Triangle- Welcome to sucks-ville. You already know the problem. Anything that fits your shoulders looks like a curtain around your waist. Your best friend is spandex. You’re going to need a shirt with some stretch and your search is for a not tacky spandex/rayon/cotton blend. Luckily, your search can be shortened by just reading tags.
Do you like how even in this promotional picture it doesn’t fit the model? Yeah, I feel for you.
Stocky- Hooray! Most t-shirts are made for you. You probably didn’t even know t-shirts were a fit problem for some men. Make sure the shoulders fit and your shirt isn’t too baggy and you’re home free.
Dress shirts are fitted the same as t-shirts but with some extra considerations that are the same regardless of body type.
1. They should hug your torso.
2. Sit correctly on the shoulder
3. You should be able to fit two and only two fingers in the neck when standing up straight and fully-buttoned.
4. The cuff should completely cover the wrist.
Sweaters should skim your body. They shouldn’t squeeze you but they need to be tight enough to be touching you. How long your torso will determine a lot about which sweater you should buy. Sweaters need to be a touch longer than a t-shirt and shouldn’t show your midriff when you raise your arms over your head.
Skinny- Hooray! This is where you get to look better than everyone else. You can wear literally any kind of sweater and look awesome as long as the shoulders fit and it isn’t too baggy.
Chunky knit pull-over with a funky neckline? You’re the only body type that can pull that off! You should do it.
Triangle- You’re going to want to stick to button up sweaters. They allow for a tighter fit on the waist because you can selectively button them to give you snugness where you need it and let your shoulders move.
Stocky- Remember when everything was a gravy-train in tee shirt-ville? Here’s your comeuppance. You need to keep sweaters slender. You can’t wear a chunky knit or it’s going to add twenty pounds to your frame. Cashmere is your best friend because it lays flat on the body.
When considering a jacket you should think of it as your slimmest outerwear. If you want something hefty that keeps you warm, you buy an overcoat. Your suit jacket or even a casual jacket should still be slim against the body. How slim is dependant on how many layers you wear.
Try your coat jacket on with what you will usually wear underneath it. For some men that’s simply a dress shirt but for others it may involve an under shirt, a dress shirt, a vest, and a sweater. Your jacket should be just big enough to accommodate what you plan to wear under it but not so big that it doesn’t hug your waist.
Remember the golden rule when buttoning a jacket: Never button the bottom button. The top button is optional. The middle buttons should be buttoned.
If you want to add warmth and bulk to your outfit, this is where you do it. Your overcoat should be able to accommodate everything else you’re wearing so you’re going to buy it big. Would you like to take a wild guess which fit is still important to not go too big on? THE SHOULDERS!!! Your overcoat still has to fit your shoulders. Luckily they’re designed to be big but with the shoulders fitting you.
If you don’t know what I mean by overcoat the basic types are
This includes single-breasted, double-breasted, pea coats etc. They look a lot like jackets but they’re heavier and cut bigger so a jacket fits underneath them.
I’m oversimplifying, of course, but I want ot give you an idea of what’s out there.
Anyway, I hope these guidelines for fit help you out and the next time you go shopping you keep them in mind.