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The Four Cures for BFD (Bad Fit Disease)

Four Tips on Achieving the Perfect Fit

A friend from Japan once told us that some of the most fashion obsessed in Tokyo will sometimes search for years for a single pair of perfectly fitting jeans. Even at Black Lapel, we are constantly tweaking our personal suit measurements in search of perfection to that nearest quarter of an inch. Some might call us obsessive.  We like to think we have a passion for perfection. Yet, even we can’t prescribe one single cure-all for BFD. It really depends on your body type and what you like, which makes finding your own perfect fit a nuanced and personal process.

Here are 4 tips that will get you started on the right path:

1. Know Your Measurements 

Knowing your measurements is the first step towards achieving a perfect fit. And we’re not talking about knowing the chest, neck or waist size that you’re USED to buying; we’re talking about your true physical measurements, taken with a proper tape measure.

Measure your neck, chest, waist (one inch below navel) and inseam (inner leg length—from your crotch to your feet). These are the most basic measurements that you need to shop effectively for a better fit.

You’ll need to know your neck size for dress shirts, chest size for blazers, and the waist and inseam are the measurements you’ll look for when shopping for pants.

For example: a pant size of 30×32 = 30 inch waist x 32 inseam

If you’ve never measured yourself before, we can help:  

  • Sign up for a free account at blacklapel.com and use our step-by-step video measurement guide to measure and fill out your personalized measurement profile.
  • Get measured in less than 15 minutes with the help of a friend.
  • Don’t have a measuring tape? We’ll send you one for free.

2. Size Down for a Slimmer Fit 

A good general rule of thumb for most men who are not used to wearing slimmer fitting clothes is to simply size down. So if you usually wear a size 40 suit, opt for the size 38 suit instead. This deceptively simple heuristic will take you 80% of the way towards that elusive perfect fit.  The reason this works is that most off-the-rack clothing is sized larger to fit as broad a customer base as possible. This is why you see pins and clips behind mannequins.  So for most men, the difficult part about sizing down is not necessarily physical, but psychological.

To put it simply, a slimmer fit is something you need to get used to. When you’ve been wearing boxy suits and parachute shirts for the past 10+ years of your life, wearing something that fits right may feel “small” or “too tight” at first. Don’t worry as this is natural and is actually one of the surefire signs that you’re on the right track. While nothing should be hipster-skinny (unless of course, you are actually trying to dress like a hipster), it’s okay to feel your clothes on you.

Once you can get over the mental block of a well-fitting piece of clothing as being “too tight,” you will begin to look at the mirror and truly appreciate how much better you look in slimmer clothing.

3.The Tailor is Your Friend 

When was the last time you got your suits or shirts altered? If you’re like most men, you probably fall into the category of NEVER. Knowing your measurements and going for slimmer cut clothing will take you 80% of the way there, but since off-the-rack clothing is rarely a perfect fit (see exhibit above), you’ll need the help of a good tailor.

Our friends at GQ once said:

“The right tailor can make a $100 suit look like $1,000, and he can make that $1,000 suit worth every penny.”

Go through our checklist of BFD symptoms in our previous post nd diagnose your fit before you go. Not all tailors are created equal; some may suggest more aggressive slimmer cuts, while others more traditional fits. So be sure to tell the tailor what YOU want.

4.Go Custom 

Okay, we admit an obvious self-serving bias here. But objectively, why buy clothing that’s made for someone else, when you can buy clothing that’s made for you, down to your exact unique measurements?

This becomes an even more compelling choice once you factor in the cost of altering off-the-rack clothing. And if the idea of buying off-the-rack and having to visit the tailor every time sounds like a lot of work to you, then made-to-measure clothing is right for you.

If there was such a thing as a panacea or cure-all for BFD, this would be it. Nothing cures Bad Fit Disease like going Custom.

As they (okay, we) say,
“Once you go custom, there’s no going back to off-the-rack.”
Team Black Lapel


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5 thoughts on “The Four Cures for BFD (Bad Fit Disease)”

  1. sfknees says:

    For my body type, ‘slimming’ the fit does not seem to work/apply and I am open to some advice here! though in good shape, I have muscular thighs and ‘knocked’ knees–hence, slim fitting pants/jeans just don’t look good. Any ideas on the right ‘kind’ of pants for this ‘problem’?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      For jeans beware of “skinny” fit. Get to know your tailor. A tweak to a slim fit casual pair of pants or jeans will almost always look better than wearing pants that are too big just to compensate for one area like your thighs.

      As for more dressy pants, it may sound self-serving but made-to-measure slim fit pants will change your mind about slim fit. The reason is that they truly follow the line of your leg. That makes them look and fit great every time.

  2. Danny says:

    Does “CUREBFD” still work?

    1. Black Lapel says:

      Sorry Danny, that one’s all used up! Don’t let that stop you from getting rid of any lingering BFD though!

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