With three definitions of correct clothing fits these days — tailored, body con and oversized — creating guidelines on how to fit a jacket is not as straightforward as it used to be. Add in the intricacies of design detailing that affect fit and things get even more blurry. But it’s worthwhile understanding the basics of how to fit a tailored jacket like a blazer as a starting point. Note: We are NOT talking about outerwear like coats and puffers.
Make sure you’re wearing the correct layers underneath the jacket before you check it for fit. Stick to a shirt, blouse or lightweight sweater plus underwear. Here are the guidelines:
- Shoulder Fit: The shoulder seams should fit squarely on either side of your shoulders. But if the jacket has “sharp shoulders” (a trendy and modern version of shoulder pads), the shoulder seams should fit wider than the edge of your shoulders. A jacket with dropped shoulder seams will fit two to three inches below the edge of the shoulder.
- Bust Fit: The jacket should skim comfortably over the bust without wrinkles, and as far as possible the bust darts should be in the right place. It’s first prize for the jacket to fit well when buttoned or zipped. However, fitting a jacket over a large bust line so that it fits everywhere and doesn’t pull at the bust is a very tall order. That’s why purchasing a jacket that fits but does not close is fine by me, because we leave our jackets open 90% of the time anyway. Furthermore, pear shaped lasses might find that jackets fit everywhere but that last button pulls when you fasten it. Leave the jacket open and your fit challenge is solved. Of course, outerwear that protects you from the elements MUST fit when it’s closed.
- Armhole Height: Make sure that things don’t look and feel tight under the arm. And sometimes armholes can be cut too long for your frame and look off too.
- Waist Fit: The waist should skim over the contour of your body and be in the right place, so check that it’s not too high or low — both in front and at the back.
- Back Fit: If the jacket wrinkles because it’s pulling, the fit is too snug or the armholes are cut too small for your frame. But jackets can also wrinkle when they are too large, so watch out for those wrinkles too.
- Sleeve Fit: The silhouette of the sleeve can make or break the look. If the sleeves are bunching and creating lines on your arms from pulling, they are too tight. Size up or choose a jacket with a roomier sleeve shape. If the sleeves are not streamlined enough, but the rest of the jacket fits, choose a jacket with a slimmer sleeve fit.
- Sleeve Length: I prefer jackets with longer sleeves, so I’m going to suggest three quarters of an inch over the wrist as a great length. An inch is also good. Longer than that, and things start to look ill-fitting.
- Overall Length: This depends on your style preference and what you find flattering. Generally, shorter jackets that end on the high hip bone, or a few inches below your bottom, are flattering. Jackets that end in between these points need to be assessed case by case.
- Stance Position: A stance is where the highest button on a jacket hits the chest. Its position depends on your style preferences too. Some prefer low stances whereas others prefer high stances. Just make sure you like the position of the stance when you fit a jacket.
A few extra fitting tips:
- Comfort Factor: Can you drive, comfortably sling a bag over your shoulder, and pick up a child or pet wearing the jacket? Do the reach test. Remember that you are not expected to do a yoga class and jumping jacks in a jacket so don’t go overboard with the comfort factor.
- Rolling: If the jacket keeps on rolling back off your shoulders while it’s unfastened, hang it back on the rack. Jackets should stay put.
- Individual preferences: Some of my clients like their tailored jackets very fitted, when to my eye they look a little snug. And I like my tailored fits just a little roomier than most, and to some, my jackets might not seem fitted enough. So take into account your personal fit preferences too. After all, YOU have to wear the jacket and feel fabulous in it.
Once you’ve got a handle on how to properly fit a tailored jacket, you’ll find it easier to achieve the correct fit on body con and oversized styles. But if you’re still unsure, feel free to ask those questions on our forum and we’ll help you out.
Do you find jackets hard to fit? If so, what are your fit challenges?