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Men: Do Your Clothes Really Fit?

Probably not, says tailoring expert Leslie Chia of Robinsons’ Haber and PIMABS. Use these 4 tips to make sure you’re always a sharp-dressed man.

 

Here’s the truth, guys: If you’re buying off the rack, unless you’re the exact same size as the brand’s fit model, your clothes probably don’t fit the way they should. And as we said in our recent story about great Singapore sources for menswear, clothes make the man. Not to worry! The Finder’s Editor Sara Lyle Bow and Designer Scott Frank Sithu met with tailor extraordinaire Leslie Chia, the mastermind behind Robinsons The Heeren’s made-to-order men’s salon Haber and its bespoke brand PIMABS (what’s the difference between the two? Read this). We found out these four smart tips. Watch and learn.

 

Size matters.

According to Leslie: “In off the rack clothes, ‘slim fit’ is for someone who’s slim. ‘Regular fit’ is for a bigger guy. But in men’s tailoring, there’s no ‘slim fit’ or ‘regular fit,’ it’s how the shirt fits you. It’s about the allowance – the amount of fabric around your body – and the allowance is always the same. For instance, in the chest, the allowance is 4 inches – or 5, if you like your shirts a little roomy. So, say, I measure your chest and it’s 40 inches, your shirt should be 44 or 45 in the chest. You’d be surprised, even the waist allowance is exactly the same, whether you’re a guy with a very slim waist, 32 inches, or a guy with a 36-inch waist. When you put on a shirt, and it fits nicely, you shouldn’t see any distinctive creases around the body – around the armpits or neck. There shouldn’t be any pulling in the chest.”

ill fitting shirt

Pulling around the armpit

 

Length is important, too.

If your pants are too short or too long, they can make you look taller or shorter, depending on your height and leg length. In general, pants should hit right at the top of the shoe, so that they create a straight, elongating line. For shirt sleeves, the edge of the cuff should just touch where your palm meets the ankle, when your hands are by your sides. Your jacket sleeve should be about ½ inch shorter than that.

tailor checking proper fit

Leslie showing the proper pant length

 

tailoring shirt

Proper shirt length

 

tailoring shirt

Proper jacket length

 

 

Pay attention to posture.

People aren’t perfect: We slouch, one shoulder may be lower than the other and so on. Ready-to-wear clothes, which are constructed to fit someone with normal, correct posture, can’t take those particularities into account. Bespoke tailoring, like Leslie does at PIMABS, can. Leslie explains how Haber bridges the two: “Haber, which is what’s called ‘made to order,’ is a hybrid between off-the-rack and bespoke. Off-the-rack is based on a fit template and body shape. If you fit into the category, your clothes will look perfect. Or maybe, somehow they don’t look right, but you don’t know! In my years in the tailoring industry, I’ve found that there are basically three body types – and I’m not talking about ‘slim fit’ or big. It’s more based on the shoulder angle. There is a square shoulder, an average shoulder and a slant or sloping shoulder. Based on these three categories, I made up fitting samples for the different sizes. So, at Haber, I have about 26 sizes for shirts based on the different shoulder angles. For suits and jackets, for each body type, I have about 10 sizes. For pants, I have about 15 sizes.”

 

Suit fitting

Checking the fit of Scott’s suit

 

shirt sizing

Sizing on Haber’s 36″ Square shoulder shirt

 

Don’t assume your tailor can fix your clothes

So, now you’re probably thinking: “I’ll just take all of my clothes to a tailor and have everything taken in or out, let up or down.” That’s definitely a good first step. But, as Leslie points out, “Once you shorten a jacket length, it can look weird or unbalanced. Sometimes you lose the details around the cuffs. There’s only so much you can alter with off-the-rack.” If you’re ready to make an investment in proper-fitting clothes that show off your personal style, check out which Robinsons tailoring service might be right for you.

Jacket tailoring

 

 

By Sara Lyle Bow, October 2015

 

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