The most important thing when purchasing an off the rack suit is to be sure the shoulder and thigh fit is perfect. Most tailors and seamstresses cannot make adjustments to these areas because there is no extra cloth to work with. Areas like the waist size, lower leg, and cuff length are less important because there are many alterations that can be done to adjust these areas.
So to achieve that custom look without emptying your wallet, consider the following:
First on the pants -
- The “break” in the pants (where your pants drape over your shoes) actually varies according to preference. Some men like no break (pants legs are hemmed near the top of the shoe not bending where the cuff touches the shoe). Others prefer a large break (pants practically drag the ground and swallow the shoe). If you don’t know, a general rule of thumb would be to start with the back cuff resting on the sole of your shoe. You may also choose to add a cuff as long as there is adequate material.
- Tapering (sometimes referred to as thinning) helps to bring proportion back to the garment compensating for some areas of the body that may not be as large. An example would be someone that possesses larger thighs and smaller calves. They may benefit from tapering from the knee downward creating a more properly proportioned appearance.
- The waist and seat should fit comfortably with no pulling or gaping. These are usually simple adjustments for a professional.
Then on to the jacket -
- The sides – they need to be taken in to give the desirable “V” silhouette. In some cases it’s just an illusion but this one alteration will make all the difference when it comes to how the suit enhances your look.
- Sleeve length – while it also varies according to taste, most men choose a sleeve length that falls at the thumb joint. Jacket sleeves can also be tapered similar to pant legs.
Ultimately the bottom line is this - you can still look like you spent a fortune on your threads with the help of professional alterations, and a talented seamstress can help you achieve a great fit without opening up a line of credit.