I always want to look in a suit the way models look in advertisements. This dream never actually meets reality. But, the better measurements you can take, the closer you’ll come to having a suit that fits perfectly. Who wouldn’t want to look like they just stepped out of this Gucci ad?

So, you need to know what to measure for a suit, as well as where to go for measurements. I’m here for you with details and facts on both fronts. Read on to learn more about what to measure for a suit and where you should go to get good measurements.

In our connected age, we’re seeing the rise of order-online suits. These online services may ask for a lot of different measurements, including many that most in-store suit retailers won’t ask for. I’m going to stick to the basics here — measurements you’ll want done in-person. But, if you’re going the online route, don’t be surprised if they ask for a lot of additional measurements, too.


Coat Measurements

You’ll need four measurements to properly size a coat. Wear an actual jacket for each except for the chest measurement — you’ll want to wear a dress shirt only for that one. Also, make sure you can feel the tape during measurements, but that it doesn’t feel too tight. Here’s what you need to measure:

  • Chest: Start the tape under one armpit and draw it completely around the chest at about nipple level. The tape should be loose, but not so loose that you can’t feel it at all.
  • Shoulders: Start the tape at the end of one shoulder (where the seam would be) and then draw the tape over your shoulders to where your other should ends (where the seam would be).
  • Length: Start the tape right between where your jacket collar and jacket should seam would be. And then drop the tape down to where you would want your jacket to fall — which is typically about even with where your palms end and your fingers begin when you’re standing relaxed.
  • Sleeve: Start the tape right at where the jacket’s seam would be. Drop the tape to where you would want your jacket sleeve to end, which is typically about even with where your thumb begins. This leaves just enough space for some shirt sleeve to show — but not too much.


Pant Measurements

For pant measurements, you’ll want to wear a dress shirt tucked into dress pants as well as shoes. Dressing like you would when wearing a suit help’s the accuracy of the measurements. Here’s what you need to measure:

  • Waist: Start the tape just below the belly button, then snugly draw it evenly around the waist.
  • Inseam: Start the tape as close to the crotch as possible, and then let it fall down to where your ankle bone sites. Your suit pants should fall right at shoe level. But, this is something that your tailor should perfect after the purchase— more on this in a moment.
  • Outseam: Start the tape at where your waistband would be, and then let it fall down to the outer ankle bone — again, measuring so that your pants end roughly where your shoes begin. A tailor can provide assistance here.


Where to Get Measured for a Suit

It’s really hard to measure yourself for a suit. Actually, let me amend that: It’s near impossible to measure yourself for a suit.

So, where can you get measured for a suit? Decide where you’re interested in buying, and there will undoubtedly be someone there who can take your measurements — obligation free.

For example, if you can find someone at Nordstrom to take your measurements, or someone at Men’s Wearhouse to take your measurements, or someone at Joseph A. Bank to take your measurements, or someone at Bonobos to take your measurements.

I’m not recommending these places specifically. But each can take your measurements. And then you have them, and you can then walk confidently into any suit provider (or surf into any online suit provider) and give them your measurements.

And, no surprise, you can even use apps to take your suit measurements if you really are alone and you really do need the help. Try WingChoi and MTailor.


What is the ‘Drop’ in a Suit?

When you’re shopping for a suit, you may hear the salespeople talk about the “drop” in a suit. What does this mean? The drop in a suit refers to the difference between a coat size and the waist size of the pants that come with it.

That is, a “drop 7” suit might have a 40-regular coat and 33-inch pants. The drop of a suit, depending on what it is, might make it more difficult to find what you’re looking for if you’re pretty thin or a little stocky. Be sure to ask the salesperson what can reasonably be taken in or let out if you find a suit that you love but the drop isn’t working for you.

Also, I wrote a little bit more about how to find a good suit jacket, and that post includes some tips on what can and can’t reasonably be tailored.


Types of Suits

Right now, you’ll find basically three types of suits:

  • Formal Suits: These are high-end suits that are suitable tuxedo replacements for formal occasions. This is the type of suit you would get married in.
  • Business Suits: This is the most common type of suit. Think of this as the one you could wear to the office or to job interviews, as well as to a wedding as a guest.
  • Casual Suits: These types of suit are a little more rare. Most casual suits are designed for either cold weather (wool) or hot weather (linen blend and others).

The trend now is for more tailored suits, too. At fashionable retailers, you’ll find that the regular suits are still pretty tailored, and the tailored suits can sometimes make it hard to breathe. This isn’t active wear, so don’t expect to be able to run sprints in your suit. But, you should be comfortable.

We’re a long way from the 1990s and early 2000s when suits were incredibly baggy. I’m sure the trend will turn back in the other direction at some point. But, right now, the tailored look is “in.”


After You Get Your Suit

Find a good tailor. Ask your salesperson what can and can’t be let in or out before you make a purchase, and then have a good tailor make the needed alternations. Most department stores and suit retailers have an in-house tailor who can help.

Your suit pants typically come loose. The tailor will mark where you want them to break, and then create the hem. Most suits today are best worn without a cuff — though that’s a trend that’s sure to change in the future, too.


Final Thoughts on What to Measure for a Suit

You have so many affordable options for good suits today. Try to find a store that sells stuff that you like, and then try to find a salesperson who you trust. Get their thoughts, opinions and guidance on what would work well for you and what wouldn’t.

Also, if you’re having “drop” problems, don’t be afraid to go with a sport coat and different suit pants. While this technically would not make a suit, it would give you an option that’s perfectly appropriate for most occasions on which you would want to wear a suit.

Have you had an experience good or bad with suit measurements? Let us know in the comments section, or send us a message directly through our contact page.