To measure for a suit jacket, gents have, what we call, a subconscious fear of messing things up. It’s partly because of a lack of understanding and rest being overwhelmed by the instructions. So don’t get worked up!
Instead, grab a tape measure and be ready. For your help, this article will take a gradual approach starting by understanding jacket sizes. Then we’ll cover how to measure yourself correctly and end with alterations you might need.
How to Find the Right Suit Jacket Size
To begin, the first thing to measure is your height. It’s foremost as the height gives an idea of the jacket length. The other significant thing is your body weight. Together these two will help picture the body type and, ultimately, the type of cut.
Chest measurement is also an essential part of jacket sizing. In fact, off-the-rack suit jackets mainly rely on chest measurement and jacket length for the right fit.
You can also consider the suit cut for right-sizing. Young gentlemen mostly prefer slim fit; however, modern and classic fit are also options. The retailers display all these factors in letters and numbers, which we will discuss next.
Difference Between Numbers and Letters on the Jacket Size
You’ll see measurements such as 38S, 40R, and 40L on the jacket label. The number here represents the chest measurement in inches. On the other hand, letters show the jacket length variations as short, regular, and long, denoted as S, M, and L, respectively. You might also see chest measurement as 38-40; this means a size of 39.
Don’t confuse the S, R, and L letters with XS, S, M, L, XL, and 2XL sizing charts. The last-mentioned ones represent combined jacket length, chest, waist, and sleeve measurements. Also, these sizing charts may vary with the brand.
Different Suit Jacket Length Variations
The jacket length should end between the thumb knuckles for a perfectly fitting suit. It should also cover the buttocks. That’s the general rule, and the short, regular, and long suit jacket length variations only help you achieve that. The height is helpful as it directly relates to the proper jacket length.
So, the guys under 5’8″ (172cm) should opt for a “short” length suit jacket. The 5’8″ to 6’1″ (172-185cm) is a suitable height for a “regular” suit jacket. Above 6’2″, you should aim for a “large” suit jacket. The sleeve length also varies with the jacket length. Ideally, ¼ to ½ inch of your shirt cuff should be visible.
How to Easily Measure for a Suit Jacket
You can measure your suit jacket in two ways. The first is to count on a jacket that already fits you well and take measurements from it. While the second is to ask someone to help you out. We recommend doing the latter, as it gives more accurate measurements.
To start, wear a dress shirt and pants and not jeans. Empty the pocket and also take off the belt and watch. Stand still in a relaxed, comfortable position. Likewise, don’t try to tuck in your stomach or inflate the chest, as this can cause wrong measurements.
While measuring, keep the tape measure snug but not too tight. Always keep one finger between the body and the measuring tape. Keeping these principles in mind, now take the measurements.
Measure Chest Width for Size
Proper chest measurement is critical as it determines the suit jacket size number. To measure the chest, wrap the tape measure around the widest area just under the armpits. Take half of this circumference to know the chest width. On the suit jacket, this will correspond to the distance between the armholes.
You can also take the chest measurement from a good-fitting suit jacket. To do this, fully button up the jacket, and lay it down. Next, unfold the lapels in a way that they join together. Also, point the sleeves to the sides, making a transverse angle with the shoulders. Then measure the chest width between the two armholes.
How to Measure for Suit Jacket Length
You must measure your height for a proper suit jacket length. To do this, stand straight, bare feet with the back against the wall. Join your feet together and stand in the way that your heels, buttocks, and occiput touch the wall. Put the cardboard on the head and mark the point.
Now use the tape measure to record the height. You can then use this measurement to determine the suit jacket length (S, R, L). Alternatively, you can measure the length of the jacket by lying its face downward. Measure the length from the lower starting point of the collar to the bottom hem of the jacket.
Measure the Sleeve Length
The sleeve length of the jacket is the measurement from the shoulder seam to the jacket’s cuff. You can measure this by lying the jacket facing upward. Flatten the sleeve against the jacket, and measure from the ending point of shoulder padding to the cuff. To take the measurement, stand relaxed and identify the tip of the shoulder.
Then measure from this tip to just shy of the hinge of your wrist. Now that you have the sleeve length, you will need to tailor the sleeve.
Shoulder width is essential as it determines the comfort of your suit jacket. It’s also practical in determining your suit cut. To measure the shoulder-to-shoulder width, stand completely relaxed, and identify the shoulder tip.
Measure between these two tips following the back contour, and you’ll have the shoulder-to-shoulder width. Now, if you want a trimmed slim-fit suit jacket, you can use this exact measurement. However, add half or one inch to this measurement for extra room for a modern and classic fit.
Measure Around the Wrist
Wrap the measuring tape around the widest area on the wrist for the wrist measurement. This measurement will determine the cuff size of the jacket. It’s also helpful in deciding on the suit jacket cut. The slim-fit jackets stay close to the body. Thus, have a narrow wrist measurement than their modern and classic fit counterparts.
When to Make Alterations
Before purchasing, always try the suit first. If it’s a simple issue, the tailor can fix it. Therefore, you should know when you can have alterations. In case of poor sleeve fit, you can get the sleeves tailored.
The tailor can adjust both the sleeve length and width. Also, if there is room in the chest/stomach, the tailor can remove the extra fabric. Other than that, most things like the collar, shoulders, and length in the suit jacket are not easy to fix. Therefore, get them right in the first place.