NCG Tailor’s point of view
This article explains in detail how to buy or custom-make a suit for big and tall gentlemen. It also provides ideas about how to stay both comfortable and stylish in plus size suits.
We used to shop online like this:
You grabbed a cup of coffee, sit down, opened your computer browser, clicked here and there; and, very often, you take your time.
Now, everything is different. You can buy anything online, literally everything, just from your 6.5 inches’ screen of your mobile phone, while standing, while walking. But the thing is, you become less and less patient. You don’t have time to pay attention to a long article, you don’t have the energy to look through a detailed product description, or you simply don’t want to, because next minute, you need to walk into a meeting room or start your car’s engine.
This is not good for some serious sellers online, like us NCG Tailor, who tries to sell some "make-sense" custom-made suits; because you will be more attracted to a photo of a handsome suit on a handsome model, rather than being attracted to a long article which actually makes sense.
But this is also where the buyers, maybe you too, make mistakes. Because buying custom-made clothing online requires some basic knowledge and understanding; 30 seconds of your attention will not do.
The phrase we are looking for here is: what you see is not what you receive. That means, in simple words, you buy a fantastic looking suit online and end up receiving something that cannot fit you at all. Sounds familiar? Any similar experience?
Today, we are going to talk about something even more complicated and requires more attention and patience: men’s big size suits.
Most ready-to-wear suits are made for “standard” builts, like size 38, 42, 46, 50. Yes, there are a few department stores where you can try some so-called “big size suits,” but you, as a big and tall gentleman, sometimes just can find one that could actually make your happy.
They just can’t fit.
The biggest problem with off-the-rack suits is, their patterns are scaled, even those plus size ones. When the shoulder is larger, the chest, the waist will also become bigger, proportionally. But the thing is when we gain a few pounds, our measurements don’t change in proportion: we don’t become higher, our shoulders remain the same, all the weights we gained became our beer belly.
So here comes the problem: in order to button up our jacket, we have to pick a larger size suit, we have to size up. But in this case, we can hardly say it will be a well fitting suit, because everywhere else, besides the jacket waist, will be too big. And when you pick a suit that is one or two sizes bigger, this creates another problem: you have to alter the rest of the suit (besides the jacket waist).
Ok, you visited several stores, you finally find one suit that is, what we should say, OK, just ok. Then, you take it to your favorite tailor, hoping that he can do his magic. However, you quickly realize that you still need to pay a lot of money to make it just a little bit better; or in some cases, impossible to alter.
Shortening 1 inch of a suit jacket is easy; Adding a cuff to your pants is easy; but changing the size and the form of your jacket's armholes, repositioning the buttons or pockets, are extremely difficult (logically, very expensive), or simply impossible. Try to imagine how much you need to pay to reduce the size of the shoulder, the chest, the sleeves, on one suit!
Please understand that generally, shortening something is relatively easy, but lengthening something is very difficult, in most cases, simply impossible because they are not enough fabric left for your tailor to do that.
Buying an off-the-rack suit without taking into consideration of the alterations troubles is not a good move; in some case, the alterations fees can be even more expensive than the suit itself.
The basic rule is: you have to pick a suit that its jacket shoulders can fit your body perfectly. Chest a little bigger, ok, alterable; waist a little small, ok, alterable; but not the shoulder, because it will be extremely expensive to change the size and form of its shoulders.
Everybody loves comfortable clothes. The most comfortable clothes you ever wear, let us guess, silk pajamas? Unfortunately, you cannot wear your favorite pajamas to attend a business meeting; you have to put on a decent suit for this kind of occasions, for the sake of formality and respect.
For a lot of guys, finding an off-the-rack suit that can be both stylish and comfortable to wear is already not easy. For portly gentlemen, it can be much more difficult, even impossible, because there are limited numbers of big and tall garments shops and even you have one in your neighborhood, it is still difficult to find some clothes that suit them perfectly.
Stylish suits are often slim cut and close to the wearer’s body (even though there are always exceptions), this means in most cases, fewer rooms for movements, therefore more uncomfortableness. For regular sizes gentlemen, they can try a size bigger or a size smaller, but for big men, options are very limited in ready-to-wears.
As we mentioned right at the beginning of this article, buying a plus size suit is not just about paying, there are some basics to learn, and you need to be a little more patient.
Before we talk about tricks or tips for choosing wisely a suit for larger and taller men, let’s take a look at some important “what you should know” first.
Making a plus size suit is expensive: for a ready to wear, it should be more expensive than a regular size one (assuming that other details like fabrics, accessories and making qualities are the same); not to mention a custom tailored one which could cost you even more.
In a department store, when a plus size suit is much cheaper than others, check the fabric composition, because there is a big price difference between polyester and wool suits, and synthetic ones, you don’t want them, no matter how cheap they can be.
Well, online… The internet is a jungle. Be aware of the seller’s reputation, because sometimes, you think you get yourself a fantastic deal, but end up by purchasing something you don’t want to wear at all.
Try to avoid the search terms like “cheap plus size suits,” or “cheap big jackets.” Just remember, not expensive, is always too expensive.
Magic does not exist, traps do.
You are very tall, a suit can not make your much shorter; you are portly, a jacket will not be able to make you much slimmer (a little maybe, but never dramatically).
No suits or jackets can change dramatically your body shape, not even the bespoke tailored ones.
Here is an interesting fact:
Let’s say you are an average-height person; standing next to Kobe Bryant, you look shorter; standing next to Tom Cruise, you look taller. That’s logic and pretty simple to understand, right?
But this logic does not work on men’s formal clothes. Let’s say you have a larger than average body; Inside a skinny fitted suit you look big, and what may seem illogical, is that even in loose fit clothes, you will still look big.
Please note this: finding a big size, well-fitting suit is not about change the body shape you have, it is about presenting yourself in a better way; it is about finding the right balance and proportion: makes a fat man look big not overweighed; makes a tall man look strong not just tall; makes a heavyset man look sharper; gives your body a nice and clean frame to mask your imperfections.
A suit, is not spandex.
We hate to say that, but putting on a two sizes bigger suit or blazer to cover your beer belly will not make you look thinner, they will not either make you look more casual, they will only make you look careless, even sloppy, and you might look like wearing a parachute.
If your wardrobe is full of this kind of suits or blazers, maybe it is time to renew it. Buy one tailor-made suit instead of buying three big ready-to-wear ones. A bespoke made or even a made-to-measure suit will fit you much better, from shoulder to chest, to belly and hips; and because it is made according to your measurements, you will feel much more comfortable in it.
There is also a more money-saving way if you want: take some of your suits to a good tailor. Don’t underestimate those small alterations; fashion works in its own magic way.
We hesitated for a moment before deciding on what to put in this chapter, “comfortable” or “stylish.” They are both important for any man in a suit; however, for big and tall gentlemen, we think feeling comfortable has greater importance than being stylish (hey, you might disagree, we know).
Larger people tend to sweat more. Therefore picking breathable fabrics becomes even more important for their suits and any other outfits.
Regarding comfort, wool, cotton, and linen are the best choices for men’s suits. Everyone knows that wool is by far the most popular choice for its comfort, breathability, and smoothness. Linen and cotton suits are comfortable too; its just they need more frequent maintenance.
Avoid polyester suits.
The shoulders, the chest, and the waist determine the main frame of an outfit; and that’s also the places a lot of people check while purchasing a suit. However in fact, when it comes to comfort, the size and the form of the armholes are of greater importance.
The armholes of a suit are like the joints of a machine; their shapes decide whether you can move your arms freely and comfortably. NCG Tailor always suggests high armholes for any suits because low armholes are just bad for movement and comfort.
If you are in a big-and-tall store, try to move your arms while trying a suit: lift up and stretch, to see if you feel restrained. Well, of course, formal suits are not sports coats, they will always restrain a bit. But our point is, if you feel pretty uncomfortable, like when you lift up your arms and the whole jacket move upwards, your sleeves dig deeply into your body, then go away, that’s not your suit!
NCG Tailor highly recommends two vent suit jacket for big men. Not only they look good, but also they will be less restriction on your belly and hips when you walk or sit down.
It is true that 80% of off-the-rack suits made with only one vent (because it is the most cost-effective way), but if custom made, make sure you will get a two vent suit jacket.
Anyway, no vent jackets can be very bad for movements especially when you have a bigger belly or larger hips.
Despite the fact that adding more pleats will not give your trousers cleaner and sharper looks, they do create considerable extra room for comfort; especially you have strong hips and thighs.
A lot of young people don’t like suspenders; they think that’s a thing for their grandpas, or great great grandpas. But if you are having trouble to wear your pants comfortably because of your round stomach, suspenders can do much better than belts: they can keep your pants where they should be, and you don’t need to constantly worry whether they will slip off.
If you don’t like other people to see your suspenders, try a suit vest to cover them.
For every gentleman, tall or short, big or small, tailor-made suits will be certainly much better than the off-the-rack ones; for big and tall men, that’s especially the case. Bespoke made or even made to measure, these services will adjust the whole suit according to your own measures, and give you comfort from shoulders to pants cuffs.
Another reason we strongly recommend the custom tailoring service is that despite their higher prices, you will know exactly how much you need to spend from the beginning. On the contrary, buying a ready-to-wear needs alterations, and the cost for that is uncertain, and how perfectly can your tailor alter is also uncertain (for example, shoulders, armholes, these places are almost impossible to change).
Be aware of the differences between local tailoring services and online tailoring services though; they are not the same. If you want to know more about these differences, check out this article here, but that’s a little off topic.
A suit making you feel comfortable may not also be the one making you look stylish; quite the contrary, comfort and style can even become mutually exclusive if you don’t find the right fit. And things get even more complicated for large men because their choices are already pretty limited.
As we mentioned before, no suits in this world can change your body figure magically; instead, you should focus on hiding the imperfections and accentuating the positives.
One major reason that suits will never go out of style is, they might be able to give a man a clean, put-together and smooth look, no matter what body shape he has (We say “might be able to,” because you still need to learn how to choose and wear one, in order to possess that look.)
Think about it: it is like adding another frame outside your body, visually reshape your figure. Do it right, you get yourself a good-looking appearance; do it wrong, well, you mess up this reshaping thing and end up looking sloppy, careless and even unconfident.
Here are some ideas which may help you stay stylish, not at the expense of your comfort.
If you are corpulent, you probably have round shoulders. Choose a suit that sits perfectly on your shoulders, not too big not too tight, and it will reshape your visual shoulders forms: more angular. There, already changed some round lines to sharper lines!
Please remember that the shoulders size and form can hardly be altered (they can, but will cost you a lot). So if you are purchasing an off-the-rack suit or jacket, make sure its shoulders fit perfectly. On the contrary, sleeves a little longer or jacket a little longer will be easier, and cheaper to modify.
Yeah, still about the reshaping. The Same width of the chest and the waist is not a good shape; it is shapeless, it is like a barrel. You have a bigger belly, that’s ok, ask your tailor to taper in a little at your midsection, try to make a V.
Please note that we are not talking about pinching in at the natural waist (because for most people who have a beer belly, that will be a mission impossible), we are talking about the midsection.
This will change your upper body's visual shape: from a “∧” to a “∨.”
Well, we don’t think we need to write a lot more here to support this point. Smooth, this word will be sufficient. You don’t want to put on a perfectly fitting but full of wrinkles suit.
A waistcoat is not just a forgettable part of your 3-piece suit. For larger builts, it is pretty important because like the jacket, a good fitting waistcoat can also reshape and smooth your upper body, hide a bit your belly. Think about when you sit down and unbutton your jacket, that’s when your perfectly tailored suit vest comes into play.
You are heavyset, we get that, but sizing up is not a solution because even though they are bigger as you wished, they also become longer. A long jacket can make you look shorter than you actually are. Yes, you are already tall, and you are not afraid of appearing a little shorter, but that’s not the point; the point is a longer jacket can break the balance and the proportion of your upper-body and lower-body, and you don’t want that.
Always pick your size, and if possible, choose a loose fit. Sizing up will not help.