As a Seattle headshot photographer I see this almost on a daily basis when guys come in for new headshots. They’ll bring in a suit jacket or blazer and it’ll be at least two sizes too big. They have no idea, and that’s the thing. Guys simply don’t know how a jacket should fit and they rely on the salesperson who’s just trying to sell something. Keep in mind that 99% of the time, the salesperson will sell you something that’s too big because you’ll feel comfortable in it.
Now, it’s not necessarily the guy’s fault because as we’ve discussed before, guys typically aren’t brought up spending a lot of time and effort on their clothing. However, as we get older, it’s our responsibility to know what’s appropriate and to invest a little more effort with our appearance and how we present ourselves to the world.
Pro Tip: When trying on jackets, don’t jam your elbows out in front of you like you’re trying to rip out the back of the jacket. That’s not how you determine if a jacket fits. If you’re making those kinds of motions in your daily life, you probably shouldn’t be wearing a nice jacket. Just stand like a regular human being.
Bonus Pro Tip: Size down. If you’re a 40, try on a 38. If you’re a 42, try on a 40. See where I’m going? Don’t try to hide your body in a bigger jacket. It makes things worse.
Let’s take a look at a few jackets I own. The one on the left is a jacket from Macy’s and the one on the right is from Suit Supply. Both essentially off-the-rack. To begin with, the Macy’s jacket is a 38 and I’m more like a 36. The Macy’s jacket has very little tapering at the waist because it’s built to fit “most men”. Notice that the sleeves are too long, the shoulders are too wide and the arm holes are too low. It makes me look a lot bigger than I am. The jacket on the right has better sleeve length, narrower shoulders and a narrower waist.
This next profile shot shows how unflattering a oversize jacket really is. It doesn’t fit my body type. No matter what your body type is, your jacket should fit your body. There’s essentially zero waistline with the Macy’s jacket and it makes me look frumpy even though I’m standing up straight.
This gives you an idea of how much extra fabric there is. If you can grab a handful of material and pull it out like this, your jacket is too big. When your jacket is buttoned, you should have a ‘slight’ pull at the button. See the difference in material I can pull. I barely have any extra material on the jacket from Suit Supply.
Now the back. Same deal. It’s too big in all areas and it makes me look frumpy, sloppy and bigger than I really am. If you’re already a big guy and you wear oversize jackets, unfortunately, that’s just making you look bigger.
I hope this helps when you’re out looking for a new suit or sport jacket. It’s okay for the clothing to touch your body. I’m talking about proper fit, not being tight. There’s a difference.
Here’s a few more side-by-side comparisons. Again, the jacket on the left looks sloppy. It’s hard to look confident, professional and convey a sense that you know what you’re doing when your clothes are ruining that for you.