The Need to Know Guide to Buying a Suit for the Larger Gentleman

Posted on January 08 2018

It can be frustrating trying to buy clothes when you’re of a larger stature, particularly when it comes to a good suit.

The clothing industry is obsessed with standard sizing and if there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that few of us come ‘off the peg’. Unfortunately, that means off the rack suits seldom suit a larger gentleman, and there’s a very good reason for that.

Off the rack suits use a standard template where they simply increase the size

Which might not seem like an issue at first glance.

Until you realise that they increase the size of every dimension – sleeve length, waist size, armhole, shoulder width, etc. Everything is scaled up. And I don’t know about you, but when a few pounds are added to my waistline, my shoulders don’t magically grow by a few centimetres to go with it!

There’s another issue caused by this kind of template scaling.

The positioning of the pocket and button placement on the suit jacket is determined by its length. A scaled up template means that the length becomes longer, and so these positions will be wrong for many men.

And that’s why an off the rack suit is a bad idea if you’re stockier or shorter than most.

A ‘made to measure’ or ‘bespoke’ suit is your best way of buying a well-fitted suit that looks great

This will vary according to your budget, but even some high street brands offer a made to measure service, so it’s worth having a look online to see what’s available. Alternatively, a good high street tailor can make amendments to your suits at relatively low cost.

Whichever option you prefer to go with, you’ll need to consider how the suit is cut when placing your order.

So here are a few things to be looking out for:

A single-breasted jacket works best as the double-breasted will make you look wider and create a gap in the middle.

Two or three buttons are the ideal option.

Classic lapels that are proportional to your figure will compliment you well.

Opt for no vents, or side vents – a middle vent will gap at the rear.

The buttoning point of your jacket should be at your natural waist to prevent the belly from peeking out underneath.

The cut of your trousers should also sit on your natural waist.

Suspenders are the best option for keeping your trousers where they should be without the need to hike them up, or uncomfortable belts.

The colour of your suit can make a difference too

Lighter tones will draw attention to your body shape, so a dark and sophisticated colour such as black or midnight blue is going to do you more favours.

You can also use the pattern to accentuate your positives. Pinstripes might be associated with bankers, but they do have a slimming effect along with that sense of professionalism. Sounds like a win-win to me, right?

The trick is establishing what works well for you, and when you’ve found it – keep at it!

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