Jacket length is a fluctuating trend that swings back and forth. Like most aspects of menswear, there are classic choices that remain stylish throughout time and there are trends that come and go. When we are fitting our clients with their bespoke suit jackets, here are a few of the things that are considered.
Jacket Length 101
Various considerations are important when a man is deciding on appropriate jacket length. A great place to start is by looking in the mirror and paying attention to your first impression about whether you feel the jacket is too long or short. Your first reaction to jacket length will translate into your personal style and will be a great starting place. After that, you can rely on a few common guidelines. Of course, scheduling a bespoke suit jacket fitting is the only way to guarantee that your suit jacket fit will be perfect.
Measure to the End of the Thumb
This seems to be the most common guideline with older gentlemen who wear suit jackets to the corporate offices. This guideline specifies that when standing with arms hung down to the side, the suit jacket should be felt within one's bent fingers. Basically, the bottom of the jacket falls to the end of the thumb.
Most fashion-forward men do not follow this guideline, as it creates an extra-long look, but it is successful at covering the rear if that is an objective. Men with exceptionally long or short arms should not use this guideline, as the result will not be appropriate.
Does the Jacket Cover the Rear?
It sounds obvious, but most off the rack suit jackets don’t take account of this. When looking in a mirror, identify the spot where the rear meets the thighs to pinpoint where the edge of the jacket should fall.
Recent fads have trended towards shorter than usual jackets. The trend has been supported by name-brand labels and proliferated by influential celebrities and media outlets, but traditional fits still bring jackets lengths to right at the upper thigh.
Divide By Two
Men's suit jacket length is all about proportions. By measuring from the back of the suit collar to the floor and dividing the length by two, the ideal jacket length is the number that results. This guideline relies on principles of proportion and is thought to result in a jacket length that will compliment any frame.
Just as with the other guideline where arm, torso, and leg height isn’t accounted for, this guideline simplifies the process of a custom fit. Many old school tailors follow this rule because they feel that irrespective of the individual body proportions, a suit jacket should always account for one half of the visual suit length.
What's the Event?
Understanding the purpose of the jacket and the events where it will commonly be worn will also factor into the jacket length decision. Typically, the more formal the occasion, the longer the jacket should be worn.
If the suit will be worn in casual settings, wearing the jacket a bit shorter than a business suit jacket is appropriate. Shorter jackets allow for more movement and are commonly seen at casual events.
Accounting for Proportions
When trying to appear taller, shortening the jacket slightly to expose a longer leg will give the illusion of height. Conversely, when a man would like to downplay very long legs, a longer jacket will provide the illusion of a more proportionate stature. For those with proportionate frames, a traditional suit jacket length is timeless. Trends will come and go, but the moderate jacket length will remain popular.