Suit Jacket Sizing: Measurements To Prevent Having Too Much Gap Between Your Chest And The Lapels

by Steve

coats and jackets, suits

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A reader recently asked a great question about suit jacket sizing.

Specifically, he was asking about about a statement I made in this post about men’s suit fitting:

“There should be enough fullness across the back and chest so the lapels lie flat without gapping open.”

Can you comment more on that? Several of my suit jackets have this problem – there is a gap between my chest and the lapels. I haven’t been able to figure out what is causing it. I thought perhaps it was a symptom of the jacket’s chest being too large, but you seem to be saying that it might be the opposite. Thanks!

— Matt

Here’s why there is so much gap between your chest and the lapels of your suit jacket, plus tips for avoiding this problem in the future…

Why The Problem Occurs

This challenge stems from any one of the following:

  • Not taking coat measurements at all (asking the customer what size he thinks he wears).
  • Taking measurements incorrectly.
  • Not taking enough measurements.

Now, here’s the solution and the appropriate steps to request from your tailor or merchant to minimize your challenge when purchasing your jackets in the future…

How To Take Proper Coat Measurements

OVERARM – Place the measuring tape over both arms and parallel to the ground. (Overarm measurements are usually taken 2 inches above the nipple line.) This is a snug but not tight measurement. Some men have upper arms which bulge below where the tape is normally placed, particularly if they are athletes. Then it is advisable to lower the tape (perhaps an inch or two) to encompass the largest part of the shoulders, always keeping the tape horizontal.

CHEST – Place the measuring tape around the fullest part of the chest under the arms and parallel to the ground. Make sure the tape is up over the shoulder blades in the back. The tape will need to be over the fullest part of the chest. This measurement is taken medium, not snug.

The average man has a 7-inch difference between his chest and overarm. Should there be a difference of more than 8 inches between the chest and overarm, you should go up in the chest size to accommodate for the large overarm.

Always focus on the fit of the overarm and chest of a coat. If you need to go up a size to accommodate and the waist of the coat is full, then request the coat waist be taken in for appropriate shape.

Any time you attempt to tailor the armholes or chest of a garment, you lose the balance of the initial pattern and fit of the garment. Don’t settle for what the merchant has on the rack. Your measurements dictate size and proper fit.