The key is getting a precise fit. This is more difficult with off-the-rack apparel designed to accommodate the greatest number of bods. Made-to-measure isn’t the expensive luxury many believe, comparable to (or less than) designer names, but with a superior, custom fit. For a perfectly polished result, get measured properly—no sucking the stomach or puffing the chest—and fine-tune the details to flatter.
A good jacket fit is all in the chest and shoulder: snug but not restrictive. Sleeves should taper and fall to the top of the hand, not over it, nor should they stop before the wrist. The bottom of the jacket should fall roughly half way between shoulder and shoe for visual balance—excessive length is a crime that creates stumpy leg syndrome. Choose other details in proportion to the man underneath: wider lapels for broader chests; square shoulders for large heads, sloped shoulders for small heads. Even the position of the gorge (the cut-in notch on the lapel) can make a difference—a high gorge lengthens a short torso and vice vice-versa for a long torso.
Technically, pants should sit on the waist just below the belly button, not at the hips. This is especially true for heavier set gents to avoid unseemly stomach overhang. Bigger lads are also better served by pleated detail, which allows room for hips and thighs, while trimmer types should opt for flat fronts. Trousers should fall to touch the top of the shoes without buckling around the ankle. Reaching the top of the heel is acceptable, dragging on the ground is not—nor is air space between shoe and hem. A cuffed leg is an option with suits (not tuxedos) but be aware that it visually shortens the leg.
Key shirting measurements are the neck, sleeves, chest, shoulder and stomach. Rather than aiming for a snug, comfortable fit that allows ease of movement, many men err towards a bigger cut which looks less polished and won’t sit well, bunching up under a jacket. Too small and you’ll experience, and project, discomfort. The cuffs should hang a centimeter or two out of the jacket sleeve when the arms are at rest, with the collar rising a similar distance from the jacket collar. Consider a full cut shirt if you have a belly to accommodate, but trimmer types should make sure there is no excess fabric creating a blousing effect when tucked in.
The shirt collar, believe it or not, will show off your face to the best advantage. The more common point collar (tips folded down, sitting flush with the sides of the tie), is narrow and visually thins the face and neck. It’s particularly flattering for round faces and thicker necks as opposed to spread collars (tips folded down, sitting a few centimetres out from the tie), which visually emphasise the width of the face and neck. The height of the collar can also be tailored to suit a short or long neck. Experiment with different options and seek advice from your tailor.
Cummerbunds and waistcoats provide a neat finish to a suit. Cummerbunds have the dual advantage of disguising a paunch or adding visual length to shorter legs, especially in similar tones to the pants. Contrasting colours or patterns may actually draw attention to the stomach or truncate legs. Bigger bellies might be better served by a waistcoat with a deep V-neck, or simply a well-cut suit with the top button fastened.