Every gentleman needs at least one decent suit in his wardrobe.
Being in this business for more than ten years now, every year, we will receive, a lot of emails like this: how quick can you make a custom suit for me? I am ok to pay extra for fast delivery!
Always, last minute. Unfortunately, a formal business suit is not like a T-shirt: it can not be made overnight, and sometimes the fit needs adjustments even after the reception. And sometimes, with us, if you pick our $59 suit remake option, the delivery time will be even longer. Anyway, no tailor-made suit can be created very quickly.
Consider buying a suit an investment; and consider that’s something you need to plan ahead, especially if you are short and slim, or even skinny; Because the chance of finding a perfectly fitting small size suit in department stores is, just so small.
How to pick or custom make a perfect suit for small and skinny gentlemen? Here are our thoughts.
It’s all about proportion and balance; its all about making you look taller and sharper.
If you are custom making your suit, then your tailor will give you useful insights about what kind of fabric suits you; if you are buying off-the-rack, choose wisely the fabric.
The rule of thumb here is, to avoid any pattern that can visually divide your suit into “sections,” Like big squares, large stripes; go for narrow pinstripes or herringbones, or solid color ones. Thin stripes can visually lengthen your body; and solid color fabrics (if choose carefully), create a streamlined look.
And NCG Tailor would like to add some suggestions based on our experience: don’t pick dark gray solid, it is just too “grey” on petite size men; on the contrary, we strongly recommend navy blue (not dark blue).
Among all the following suggestions, NCG Tailor considers this is the most important one. The suit jacket shoulders are the only parts that actually “hang” on your body, their fit is the key. For a small suit, 1 inch too wide will change the jacket’s appearance significantly (maybe 1 inch is not a big thing for a big size suit, but it is for a small one).
Photo credit: effortlessgent.com
NCG Tailor also suggests that if you are having your suit custom made, ask the tailor if they have thinner shoulder pads. But we will not recommend removing the pads completely (that will make the jacket less formal).
Wide lapels are a big NO for smaller guys. The thing is, trendy or not, you don’t want your big suit lapels to make your neck look even thinner.
We recommend regular or skinny lapels (lapel width around 2-3.2 inches, not more).
But still, if this is a suit for relatively formal occasions, you don’t want to make its lapels tiny, stay in the “formal” zone.
High armholes jackets are better for any suits (even though most of the ready-to-wear suits are made with low armholes).
It is not so obvious to explain their difference by a photo of a suit, so, look at this photo. This is a big armhole…low armhole (yes, we know, it is a not a suit an that’s a woman, but just pretend that’s a suit, and we put a sleeve on this hole).
Photo credit: lyst.com
Get the idea? That’s low armhole, and if this hole is much smaller, that will become “high armhole.”
The biggest problem with low armholes is that, when you move your arms, your whole jacket moves too, significantly. For a small size suit, the jacket’s length is already short; and you don’t want the feeling that when you lift your arms, your whole jacket is lifted up.
That’s obvious; you don’t want baggy sleeves, and you don’t want your arms to float in them.
About this, here is a common misunderstanding. A lot of gentlemen don’t want close-fit sleeves because they are afraid that they can not move their arms easily and comfortably. In reality, most of the uncomfortableness comes from the armholes shapes and sizes, not the sleeves themselves. So feel free to ask your tailor to make the sleeves relatively tight, while paying more attention to the armholes.
You don’t want big jackets; you don’t want loose fit jackets, they will just make you look wider and shorter.
The jacket waist should be tapered in and form a natural curve that makes your chest look bigger than your waist; this is especially important when you have a slender chest.
We are not saying that the slim fit will be good for every below-average-height man; sometimes a standard fit could work even better (especially for skinny guys), but loose fit is certainly a no-go.
The ideal scenario is that your jacket can fit you just right, not too big not too small, and you can still move your arms and upper-body easily and comfortably.
You want your legs to look longer than they actually are, that’s the whole point of picking a relatively short jacket. Any long jacket will do the exact opposite. And shorter jackets are even more trendy.
However, don’t go too far; any too short jacket should not be a part of a formal suit. Ask your tailor’s opinion, whether you are altering an off-the-rack or custom making one.
The thing with double-breasted suit jackets is that there are two layers of fabric overlapping in the chest area, and they often have large peak lapels. They can easily make the jacket’s shoulders and chest appear larger than they should be, sometimes even redundant on short men (and make the one who wears it even smaller).
Yes, perfectly tailored double-breasted jacket could also be flattering on small size men, but in most cases, we recommend single-breasted style, and 2-button is the best (3 buttons jacket, not so much). It is a safer choice.
High rise pants are for tall men; low rise ones are not formal. Plus, regular-rise (=mid-rise) are comfortable to wear.
1/2 inch shorter on the rise, 1 inch longer your legs, visually speaking.
Visually speaking, a broad belt can cut your body into two parts, especially when your jacket is unbuttoned. If you are not tall, that’s some visual effect you want to avoid.
This crucial. Always buy flat-front pants and avoid any pleats (1 or 2), because pleats create extra rooms for movements, but also make the pants bulging, they are completely useless and redundant on small and slim guys. All they can do is making your thighs appear larger they actually are.
Skinny trousers can hardly be considered as dress pants, or formal suit pants. We understand that if you do have thin legs, you probably really hate the feeling that your trousers are really big and your legs float inside them, especially when you walk. But the thing is, cut the pants close to the skin will break the balance between your upper body and lower body, makes the jacket look super big and the legs super thin. Trust us, find a good tailor, ask him to find a middle place: relatively slim, but still match great with your jacket.
Anyway, you don’t want to make your legs even skinnier.
Some people might say that adding cuffs could add some personality to your outfit, but NCG Tailor does not agree: Cuffs are so common and easy to add to your trousers; they are not like the special color you pick for your sleeves’ functional buttonhole which could be actually a signature of custom-made suits.
Yes, pants with cuffs could look flattering on taller men, and sometimes they can also put some extra weight and keep the pants straight, but it is definitely a poor choice for those who don’t have long legs.
Cuffs make your visual legs shorter. Plus, they pair better with pleated trousers, as we said before pleat d pants are not good for short men, so one more reason to avoid the cuffs.