The Compass  /  Suits  /  How Should a Suit Jacket Fit? – Anatomy of a Slim Fit Suit

How Should a Suit Jacket Fit? – Anatomy of a Slim Fit Suit

Q: I have an average build and want a Slim Fit suit but I’m unsure of how they are supposed to look or feel. I do like the look of the suits on your models but is one of your Black Lapel Slim Fit suits right for me?
– Jonathan S.

A: (See the diagram below)

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69 thoughts on “How Should a Suit Jacket Fit? – Anatomy of a Slim Fit Suit”

  1. nun ya says:

    Definitely reconsider a slim fit. I learned this lesson as about 6 months after having twins, I tried to button a slim fit and it wouldn’t work. I fit in them now but yeah

  2. Mike says:

    Trying determine the best drape &styling of suits you offer for someone who approximately 6’2″ and about evenly portioned legs and torso with a slim frame. I appreciate everything will fit due to the custom fitting. But not all styles, look the same on someone of my build vs another. (Example: Jack is double or single breasted, 1, 2 or 3 buttoned front)


    1. Black Lapel says:

      We hear you, Mike. That’s why we wrote this story hereβ€”it’ll give you all of our suit style recommendations for tall guys.

  3. Nate says:

    Is it possible to request light, natural, or roped shoulder? How about half-lined jacket?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      It is possible to request minimal shoulder padding or an unstructured jacket (which comes with a natural shoulder). You can also request a half-lined jacket. Please reach out to us at concierge@blacklapel.com and we would be happy to provide more details. Unfortunately, we currently do not offer a roped shoulder construction.

  4. Jamie Leitch says:

    I have a 52-54″ chest and a 40″ waist. Would I fit into a slim fit suit and if so what size approx would I require?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Black Lapel suits are made-to-measure. So that means there are no sizes. We make them based on your measurements. So, by nature, you would fit into a Black Lapel slim fit suit, because it would be a slim fit for you, not some designer’s best guess as to your proportions.

      For more, check out Why Custom Suits and Shirts Make You Look Your Best or speak with a stylist by emailing us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

  5. Khari says:

    Hi I’m trying to buy a slim fit suit but I am worried it won’t fit the way I want it to fit. I am 5’7 210-215 with a muscular build and I have measurements of 38 in the pants and 46-48im the jacket should I get the suit in a size larger or keep it at these measurements

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We don’t recommend you get a suit in any “size” but that you get a suit made to your measurements. A slim fit custom suit by Black Lapel will follow the contours of your unique frame and give you the look you’re after. Almost all of the photos that you see in The Compass (a publication of Black Lapel Custom Clothiers) are of made-to-measure slim fit suits, so you can see how they fit athletic types like the Olympic swimmer who modeled this slim fit suit or the college soccer player who modeled this slim fit suit. You can also see how a slim fit suit looks on a washed up athlete turned editor of this publication in this article on three-piece suits.

      Most people hear “custom suit” and immediately think they’re expensive, but the average Black Lapel suit going for around $550 (and that includes any alterations costs). That’s much less than you’d pay for a similar quality suit (with no alterations) off-the-rack that is almost guaranteed NOT to fit your 5’7″, 215 lbs. frame.

  6. Sanjana says:

    i was looking for a weight loss product you can check out on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yICWRLodm1s and also i am not interested on products which can cause any side effect so should i use slim belt it has very good reviews and some of users are also recommending it.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We aren’t familiar with this product, Sanjana. We sell suits. You should head to a different blog for reviews of this product. Best of luck with the weight loss.

    2. Nathan says:

      Weight Loss, I’m afraid simply boils down to diet, no products like that will help you. You need to be in a calorific deficit to lose fat. Period. no getting around that, its basic scientific fact I’m afraid.

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  8. Jack says:

    Hey – what size suit would be for a VERY small guy? By small I mean 5′ 1″ tall, 104lbs., 33″ chest, 26.5″ waist 34″ hips, 27″ inseam – but with wider shoulders and a bit of muscle on the arms. Are kids suits cut differently? Because I’m looking for the more suave adult look despite my miniature stature…

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We can’t speak for off-the-rack suit companies and their clothes, but we know that you don’t have to buy kids’ clothes just because you’re a smaller guy.

      All Black Lapel suits are made to your measurements. It doesn’t matter if those measurements are very small or quite large. We’ve made suits for people who were less than four feet and suits for people who were 6’10”. For more specific advice on getting yours, email us at concierge@blacklapel.com.

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  10. Emmanuel says:

    I’m a size 42s and 36w would I still get the same size in slimfit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      To get the kind of flawless fit you see above, we go a lot deeper than the sizes you find on the rack in a store. All Black Lapel suits are made to order and custom. The first step is we get a set of measurements from you, then our tailors make your suit to those exact measurements. In a few weeks you’ll have a suit that’s customized for you and fits you flawlessly. Interested? Browse the suits.

  11. Nii says:

    I wear 40/34 regular suit.. So what will be my size in slim fit suit

    1. Black Lapel says:

      All Black Lapel suits are custom. Our tailors make your suit to order based on your precise measurements, so the off-the-rack sizes don’t factor in. Since every body is unique, we make every suit to fit the wearer (that’s how we get that flawless fit you see in our photos). If you’d like to replicate that look, browse our suits (they all come in slim, tailored and standard fit), get your measurements taken and in a few weeks, you’ll be have a suit that fits you like the guy in the picture above.

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  13. Jonas says:

    I’m wearing size 44 on a normal suit. This jacket is a bit too long and wide, because i’m quite skinny. Would 44 or 42 in a slim fit be the best choice for me?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Neither, custom fit is always the best choice πŸ™‚ Especially so if your body type requires the touch of a personal tailor. Wanna try it out? Book an appointment.

  14. Aniket jain says:

    I an 18 year old and want a slim fit suit (black) for my school farewell party so which type of fabric should i use

    1. Black Lapel says:

      If you’re asking wondering where to find our black fabric, it’s right here. If you’re wondering what material the fabric should be made of, we recommend 100% wool.

      Now, let’s talk about this suit, Aniket. As an 18 year old, we’re guessing you don’t have a closet full of suits yet. If that’s the case, we recommend that you don’t start building a suit wardrobe with a black suit. Black is extremely limiting for a number of reasons. One, it has connotations that you might not want (the undertaker look may not be appropriate for lots of situations). Second, black can make otherwise acceptable colors look extremely loud and make colored patterns look almost clownish. That leaves you limited to extremely muted colors and subdued grays when choosing shirts and ties. Third, black limits you to black shoes, which rules out many of the best looking shoes. If you want a dark suit, try charcoal gray instead. Gray is a good color for a job interview suit, great for graduations and weddings and can be worn with any color you like. Better still, you can wear it with black, brown and even burgundy/oxblood shoes. For a versatile choice, it’s tough to beat.

      If you have any more specific questions about getting one from Black Lapel, email us at concierge@blacklapel.com and a concierge will give you one-on-one advice.

  15. Steve says:

    If you have a classic fit suit can it be tailored to a slim fitting cut?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      That’s kind of like saying, “Can I rebuild my Ford Escape to look like a Mustang?” Yes, it’s possible, but it might cost more than just buying a slim fit suit. It all depends on how the original suit fits and your body type and the fabric and a myriad of other variables that could make it easier or harder to pull off, but it’s kind of a non-starter to us. In the end you’ll have a hacked up suit and underneath you’ll still feel like you’re driving the Escape, when you want to be driving the Mustang.

  16. Joe says:


    I am a little on the short side at 5’6″ with pretty built chest and arms/shoulders and my current classic fit suit coat (42R) which fits my back/shoulders comfortable to loosely looks way too large and baggy. In switching from a classic fit to a slim fit I already know I will try a short size instead of a regular, but would jumping down from a 42 to a 38 be too tight on me? I know there should be a little pull at the waist, I just dont want a huge pull at my shoulders/back. Would a 40 be a better idea or a 38?

    Thank you

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Getting a great fit out of an off-the-rack suit is extremely difficult, especially if you aren’t built like the models who walk the runways (over 6’1″ and skinny). Most guys could get closer to a good fit by sizing down, but by how much is usually a question that can only be answered through some rather expensive trial and error.

      The slim fit suits we’re talking about above are our own Black Lapel suits. Since we make suits to your specific measurements at Black Lapel, a slim fit suit from Black Lapel follows the exact contours of your body. If you’re looking for a true slim fit suit that’s made for you, we’ve got you covered.

  17. Michael Harrison says:

    I am 64 years old my eight is 6’2” weight is 240 waist 38 shoulders 44/46 depending on cut. should I try to wear a slim cut suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The answer is “it depends.” On what? Personal preference, your body type and the overall look you’re trying to achieve. Of course to determine all of that we’ll probably need to have a one-on-one conversation and get a look at you. To get the ball rolling, drop us a line at concierge@blacklapel.com and one of our stylists will work with you on getting your fit right.

  18. Bill Blythe says:

    Hello — I am a very short male, 5′ 2″ on a good day, 140 lbs, 40 yrs old. I have scoured the earth for a proper fitting pair of dress pants but have never succeeded. The rise is always too high, resulting in bagginess, and other dimensions create a diaper-butt appearance. Would your slim cut pants be preferable to tailored for my body style?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Yes, the slim fit would be a good choice for you, Bill. Since all Black Lapel clothing is made to your measurements, you won’t have to worry about a sagging rise in any of the fit types. When you put in your measurements you’ll give us the exact rise measurement you want and we’ll make the pants to that measurement.

      You’ll also give us your thigh and knee circumference. Those are the measurements that we use to get the fit type you desire. The slim fit will be close to your thighs and taper below the knee to the ankle. The tailored fit will have a little more room through the thighs and still taper below the knee. The standard fit has even more room at the thigh and knee and a slight taper below the knee.

  19. Neogias says:

    I’m 6 ft
    200 lbs
    long legs, long arm, broader shoulders than waist
    guy at the store measured my chest to be 42 in
    most of my pants/jeans/khakis are 34

    Recently bought a slim fit Kenneth Cole suit in 42L (which came with 35W pants), but I’m still trying to gauge how the fit is. There is a slight effort required to put the coat on, but it feels fine after its on. I’m not sure if that’s normal. Also I was told to have the arms on the coat let out a little more, but
    I’m now wondering If I’m to move up to 44 L since the suit is slim fit style, or if I should keep it as it is. I recently also started working out frequently so my arms are a bit tight in the 42L as well, so I’ve only been considering the 44L for the possibly future growth in my chest, arms, and shoulders.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      At 6′ and 200 lbs with long arms and legs, we we can only imagine how difficult it is to get a decent fit with an off-the-rack suit.

      Most guys usually need to shop a size down from the suits they’ve been getting or the shoulders will be too large. Shoulders that are too large look horrible, create other fit problems and are not something that most tailors can fix. Given that, we don’t suggest sizing up.

      Of course, we wouldn’t suggest getting suits off the rack to begin with. We are a made-to-measure suit company, after all. If you want a suit that fits you flawlessly, start by putting in your measurements here and you’re on your way to a suit that fits like a dream.

  20. Enoch says:

    I am 6.1″ tall and slim
    neck 15.5
    waist of 31.5

    Will a 38L skinny fit look good on me?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hmmmmm…we couldn’t tell you, Enoch. Every brand is different. If you’re prepared for limited choices and lots of tailoring, trying a 38L seems like it could be an ok starting point.

      Since Black Lapel makes custom suits to your precise measurements, you can avoid all of that (and pay about the same) by entering your measurements and making a suit to fit you flawlessly.

  21. brian says:

    Hello! Quick question! I have just about the same exact build as the model. I’m 6″ 2 and just under 170 pounds. What size jacket is he wearing? It would probably be the same size I need to get.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      The model is wearing a Black Lapel custom suit. That means it was made to his precise measurements so it’s not like an off-the-rack suit with a size (i.e. 42L).

      To get one that fits like the suit above, just put in your measurements (with some help from a friend and our easy-to-follow videos) pick your fabric and customize it to your liking. In about four weeks your flawlessly fitting suit will arrive and your mind will be officially blown!

  22. Kevin says:

    I’m 5’7″ and about 160 lbs (I have historically been around 150, but have put on a few). I have a slight frame and would like to be made to look taller. Would I be a good candidate for a slim fit suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You would be a good candidate, Kevin. Too many slim guys try to look bigger by getting suits that are cut too loose. This has the opposite effect and makes them look like they’re wearing hand-me-downs from their big brothers.

      The key, of course, is to nail your measurements first. With the correct measurements, a slim fit suit can make a slight guy (like this guy or this guy) look great.

  23. Ja'Ron says:

    Black Lapel I’m looking at buying some slip suit pants from H&m i ORDERED A 32r back here, but they were way too tight. I’m about 5’6-5’7 and 147-150 pounds what size do you think would be better. This is the link to the pants so you can see them and also the sizes

    1. Black Lapel says:

      We can’t speak to H&M’s sizing, Ja’Ron. Every brand is different. So is every body. That’s why Black Lapel makes custom clothing based on your measurements.

      If you’d like to get your hands on some of those clothes, start by getting yourself measured up.

  24. jones says:

    Is it possible to slim fit a suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Do you mean is it possible to turn a loose fitting suit into a slim fit? If so the answer is “not really.” You could have a tailor take in areas all throughout the suit, but that will likely cause other fit problems in areas like the shoulders. The cost of these alterations can quickly add up and the likelihood of your suit fitting you well at the end of this process is pretty low.

      If you’re going to spend the money, why not get something that fits the way you want right out of the gate?

  25. Nikhil says:

    I am 5’7 with a lean physique and i wish to get myself a slim fit suit. Size 36 seems to be the one salesmen reccomend for my build. I , however find it bulky and i can feel the presence of excess material in multiple areas when i try it on. If i were to get a suit stitched, what are the various key points which i have to specifically mention to the tailor in order to get a closely fitting suit?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Tailoring an ill-fitting suit is a dicey proposition, Nikhil. Fixing one problem can often create another problem. The main question is how do the shoulders fit? If they’re good, you want to do as much as you can to get the rest of the suit to fit without messing up the shoulders. For instance, if your shoulders are good and you take in the chest and stomach a lot you could end up with rumpling in the shoulders and a suit that looks worse than when you started. On the flip side, if the shoulders are off, even the most skilled tailor will have trouble making the jacket look good.

      There is one much easier solution to the fit problems: measure yourself and get a suit that’s made to fit you flawlessly from Black Lapel. πŸ˜‰ Just sayin’.

  26. Kyle says:

    Do these suits work better with narrow or normal ties better?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      As we covered in our tie width story, choosing a good tie width has more to do with your lapels than the cut of your suit. The slimmer your lapels the slimmer your ties.

      This brings up a common misconception. Don’t get the suit cut confused with a description of the wearer. A 6’8″ 250 lbs. guy who is in great shape would look good in a slim cut suit because its close to the body cut would flatter his physique (see LeBron James). He would probably not opt for slim lapels, though. In his case a wider tie would be more appropriate with his suit.

      All of this is why you get to choose the lapel width on all Black Lapel suits and blazers (along with plenty of other customization options).

  27. Dominic says:

    What is the best fit for a shorter, stocky guy who wants to escape the baggy fit suits?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      There are a lot of variables besides height and build, Dominic, but generally speaking it sounds like a Tailored Fit suit would be what the doctor ordered.

      This is really a question for one of our stylists who can give you more detailed personal recommendations based on your body type. We recommend creating a measurement profile and then emailing concierge@blacklapel.com with some pictures to get some recommendations on customizing your suit.

  28. Adam says:

    I’m going to a wedding relatively soon, its semi-formal and I’m not sure on what to wear exactly. I’m not looking for a suit off the rack type and also not looking on spending an excessive amount. I’ve got a slim but athletic build so I don’t want a baggy suit, but I also don’t want one to make me look excessively skinny.

    Thank you, and excellent blog.

    I’m 16
    16 neck
    31 waist with a 32 Inseam.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      You sound like a great candidate for a Slim Fit suit, Adam. Since you’re tall and slim you want a suit that hugs your frame so it won’t look like you’re swimming in fabric. Still, don’t confuse “Slim Fit” with “Skinny Fit” like a pair of jeans. The only way you get a suit that looks like it’s painted on is if you ask for a suit that looks like it’s painted on.

      As for getting your suit for the wedding, be sure to give yourself time to take your measurements, get your order in and get your suit made. Black Lapel suits arrive less than four weeks from the time your order is processed. For specific fit and styling advice please email concierge@blacklapel.com.

  29. OTF says:

    for a slim fit suit should I have creases or plain front trousers?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      By creases we’re assuming you mean pleats. All true dress pants should have a crease down the center of the front of the leg, so plain front or pleated won’t make a difference.

      As for plain front vs. pleated, plain front pants are the best choice for the modern look and the slim fit is nothing if not modern so we’ll almost always point you towards the plain fronts for this suit.

  30. Francis says:

    Also, I always gravitated towards pants with a bit of flare and low rise because of my torso to leg ratio. please help me out.

  31. Francis says:

    Hi BL,
    I am unsure whether to go with a slim fir or tailor fit. I have an athletic ectomorph body type (bruce lee type), 5’7 with a slightly longer torso to leg ratio. I like the slim fit but I am hesitating because I have slightly big muscular thighs for my height and I feel that slim fit might exaggerate them resulting to a shorter legs appearance. I am interested in a james bond / transporter look. Please suggest which fit should I buy for that look and if the thigh tightness of the slim fit would be an issue.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hey Francis! Have you created a profile and inputed your measurements yet? If not, please go ahead and do that. Then send us a photo of yourself standing to concierge@blacklapel.com and we’ll get one of our stylists to assess your body type and help you achieve that perfect fit and style you’re looking for.

  32. Rohan says:

    Hi Black Lapel, you’ve got a really awesome site here!

    With respect to the suit you posted a link to (http://www.blacklapel.com/suits/solid-gray.html); I’m thinking of getting a similar slim-cut suit, and my build is pretty similar to the model.

    I wanted to ask, though, are the x-creases emanating from the button, around the waist of the jacket on that model considered too prominent for business dress? I’m 24, but I still don’t want to look like I’m trying too hard to be hip.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Thanks for the kind words about the site Rohan! As for your question on the creases, the slight creasing is completely natural for a slim-fitting suit and definitely not too prominent for business dress. Regardless of whether the rest of the business world is used to it or not, there is nothing too try-hard about looking amazing in a well tailored, slim-cut suit. Be the exception! πŸ˜‰

  33. Henry says:

    I’m 16 and I never really liked suits because the ones my cousins always wore (off the rack suits) were really baggy and made them look bigger than they were, so i was glad that my sister showed me your website.
    Also i was wondering if you had any tips on making a suit and tie look more sporty. Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Welcome to Black Lapel, Henry! Keep reading The Compass and you’ll definitely find tips on how to dress down your suit throughout. For something quick and easy, try a knit tie and a pair on clean black designer sneaks.

  34. Henry Hernandez says:

    I am 6’1″
    208 lbs
    Neck 17
    Chest 44
    Waist 36

    Thoughts? Also is there an age factor here. I am 35. Most of your models seem young. I do not want to look like I am trying to look hip.

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Henry, have you spoken with our concierge team? If you’re trying to decide between a slim and tailored fit, they can best guide you through the process. In fact, we recommend sending them a photo of yourself in one of your current suits to give us a better idea of your physique and the look you’re going for.

  35. Doug says:

    Can you please post the model’s measurements? Height, waist, dress shirt size, etc.

    I have an “athletic” build but find that term to vary widely among designers. Would love to see the slim fit on someone who isn’t as lanky but more “average” as Jonathan asked.

    Will the waist suppression in the jacket be more or less pronounced for a person with an average build (thicker than the model)

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Hi Doug!

      Here are the model’s measurements:
      Neck 16.50
      Chest: 40
      Waist: 31.75
      Pants Length: 44.25

      As for waist suppression, it really depends on your chest-to-waist ratio rather than simply your build. In other words, the more prominent the “V” shape, the more pronounced the waist suppression. As for an example of a slim sut on a more “average” build, our model Chris is a great example: http://www.blacklapel.com/suits/solid-gray.html

      Hope that helps!

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