Nothing says style and importance quite like a sharply tailored suit that fits you perfectly. But getting all the elements of a suit just right may seem difficult. For example, how long should a suit jacket be?
The hem of a suit jacket should hang low enough to reach the thumb when standing with arms loose at the sides. Another common suit jacket measurement is to make sure the jacket covers most of the rear. Certain types of suit jackets, like slim, modern, or relaxed-fit jackets, will also have slight variations in length.
In this article, you will learn five different metrics for measuring the length of a suit jacket. You will discover how to know if a suit jacket does not fit you properly. Finally, you will learn the proper length for different types of suit jackets.
- What is the Proper Length for a Jacket?
- How Long Should a Suit Jacket Be?
- Suit Jacket Length Chart
- How Long Should My Blazer Be?
- Should Shirt Be Longer Than a Suit Jacket?
- How to Know if Your Suit Jacket Does Not Fit
- How Should a Suit Jacket Fit
- Is My Suit Jacket Too Long?
- Can You Shorten the Length of a Suit Jacket?
What is the Proper Length for a Jacket?
The proper length for a suit jacket can vary depending on the type of jacket and your own body proportions. In general, a jacket should have roughly half the length of your body from neck to feet to make your legs look longer.
That said, suit length varies over time as fashion changes. Today, many jackets have slightly shorter lengths than they did ten years ago. Many brands that sell ready-wear suits take this into account and sell modern-looking jackets that hang a bit shorter than they used to.
Another factor to keep in mind is that different styles of jacket, such as a sports jacket vs a slim-fit jacket, may have different lengths. Sport jackets and blazers, mean to wear as separates, often have a slightly shorter length, while the shorter length traditionally indicates less formality.
But the most important element for deciding suit jacket length is how the jacket fits you. You may need extra width in the shoulders if you have a muscled frame so that your shoulders don’t pull up the jacket and make it look shorter. Or, if you have a slender frame, you may want a close-fitting jacket that makes the most of your build and accents your long legs.
Either way, you can use the techniques listed in the next section to see if a suit jacket has the right length for you!
How Long Should a Suit Jacket Be?
A suit jacket should be long enough to cover more than half of your rear when you stand up. You can use several different methods to measure the proper length of a suit jacket, including noting where its hem falls in comparison to your hand.
1. Hand Method
The hand method is the most common method used to determine suit jacket length. This works most of the time because most people have arms that reach down to about half of the body length.
Of course, you may have the same height as another man but have slightly longer or shorter arms, which makes this method a good general guideline but not a perfect system for measuring suit jacket length.
To use the hand measurement method:
- Try on your suit jacket and stand in front of a mirror.
- Make sure the jacket fits you well in the shoulders, with the shoulder seam ending just at the end of your own shoulder. If the shoulder pulls the sleeve up, it will impact this measurement.
- Let your arms relax and hang loose at your sides.
- Place your hand flat on the bottom edge of the suit jacket.
- Curl your fingers inward toward your palm.
- Does the hem of the jacket fit just inside your hand without folding up as you do this? If so, you have a good length.
- Let go of the hem and check where the hem ends in relation to your thumb. Does the hemline hit your hand between the first and second knuckles on your thumb? If so, you have a good length.
- If the jacket hangs down to the tip of your thumb, it is too long for you.
2. Rear Method
One of the most popular ways to measure suit jacket length is to asses how much of your rear the jacket covers when you stand up. This at-a-glance method works well because you can do it yourself and quickly judge if a suit will work for you or not.
- Position yourself in front of a mirror and glance over your shoulder.
- The tails of the suit jacket should hang well past your waistline.
- Does the jacket cover more than half of your rear? Some tailors recommend hanging long enough to cover 80% of your seat.
- Likewise, button the jacket and stand facing the mirror.
- Does the hem of the jacket reach down to cover most of your crotch?
- Both of these guidelines help you determine if the jacket fits your body or not.
3. Proportion Method
One of the most professional ways to determine suit jacket length is to use the proportions of your own body. This way, you highlight your best features and make the suit jacket work for your build instead of following generic rules that may or may not suit your personal proportions.
If you can afford to order bespoke suits, your tailor probably references this guideline as well!
- Put on a collared shirt and ask a friend to take a measurement for you.
- Stand with your feet hip distance apart, your arms loose at your sides, and your shoulder relaxed but straight.
- Have your friend measure from the bottom of the collar at the back of your neck all the way down to the floor. You can also think of this as starting at the base of the neck and measuring down to the floor. Write down that measurement.
- Divide the collar-to-floor measurement by two.
- That number tells you the ideal length of a suit jacket for your body!
4. Sleeve Length
Your suit jacket sleeve should end right above your wrist, right below your wrist bone, or a fraction lower at the point where your thumb bone meets your wrist bone. These slight discrepancies in length depend largely on your taste.
Unlike a sweater or warm coat, which should have a sleeve ending farther down your hand for extra warmth, this type of jacket has an intentionally shortened sleeve to display the cuff of your shirt.
Plus, some tailors will make suit jacket sleeves even shorter to show off your watch.
Getting a suit jacket sleeve to fit you right depends on more than just the length of the sleeve, though. You also need to make sure the shoulders fit you properly. The seam that runs across the top of your shoulder, from the collar to the sleeve, should have the same length as your actual shoulder.
If the shoulder of the jacket sags down onto your arm the sleeve will hang lower than it should at your wrist. Likewise, if the shoulder is too small and wrinkles above your collarbone, the sleeve will get dragged up and appear too short.
5. Cuff or No Cuff
The most fashionable way to wear a fitted suit jacket is to have sleeves just short enough to show a quarter inch or a half inch of the shirt cuff. This looks extra sharp and allows you to display your fancy cufflinks or watch!
It may seem silly to design a jacket with intentionally short sleeves like this. But historically, only the upper class could afford to wear crisp, clean white undergarments like shirts every day because they could pay to have these items freshly laundered. Everyone else wore the same one or two outfits every day for weeks at a time!
So basically, showing a crisp dress shirt cuff beneath your suit jacket marks you as a man of means.
Suit Jacket Length Chart
While every brand may have slight variations in measurements, this chart will give you a good idea of common suit jacket lengths. The size of a suit jacket is based on the chest measurement. So a size 34 suit jacket means a 34” chest circumference.
Also, remember that most clothing manufacturers use letters to indicate the length of a suit jacket.
- S or short suit jackets often fit men with a height of 5’2” to 5’5”
- R or regular-length jackets typically fit men with a height of 5’6” to 5’10”
- L or long jackets will fit men with a height of 5’11” to 6’3”
How Long Should My Blazer Be?
Blazers often have a marginally shorter length than suit jackets, but you still want your blazer to have more or less the same length as your torso.
While a slightly shorter length in a blazer looks modern and less formal than a matched suit, you want to remember that blazers work as separate pieces, meaning they will have a contrasting color to your pants and shirt. This makes the blazer length more noticeable than it is in a matched suit, so an incorrect length in a blazer will stand out!
- Look at the buttons on your blazer. If it has three buttons, make sure the middle button lies at or above your navel, not below it.
- For a two-button blazer, make sure the top button rests at or just above your navel, not below it.
- Check over your shoulder in a mirror to examine your rear end. A blazer with the right length will cover your seat about halfway down.
Should Shirt Be Longer Than a Suit Jacket?
Generally speaking, your shirt sleeves should extend ¼ to ½ inch past the jacket sleeves. The hem of the shirt does not necessarily need to hang below the jacket hem, though, as you will tuck in the shirt when wearing a suit jacket.
The easiest way to make sure your dress shirt is long enough is to tuck it in and then sit down and stand up several times, checking to see if the shirt remains in place. You can also let the shirt hang straight down while untucked, and make sure the shirt hem reaches at least halfway down the fly of your pants. That indicates a good length that will help the shirt stay tucked in while you wear your suit jacket over it.
How to Know if Your Suit Jacket Does Not Fit
You can quickly assess whether your suit jacket fits you by following these four simple rules.
Your suit jacket does not fit you properly when:
- The chest gaps open or strain to close when you button the jacket. A gaping chest makes the front of your suit jacket look like an open mouth–not attractive! But a tightly straining chest with wrinkles running down to the button makes it look too small.
- The shoulders either hang over your shoulder or pinch the end of your shoulder in tight wrinkles. One of the worst mistakes you can make when wearing a suit is to wear a jacket with too-big shoulders, where the ends of the shoulders drape loosely over the tips of your own shoulder bones. You will instantly look sloppy and saggy-elephant-like!
- A suit jacket that hangs down to the end of your hand looks super old-fashioned these days. Look for a hemline that ends in the middle of your thumb for a fitted, modern appearance.
- You also want to look out for jacket sleeves that reach down over your hands. Good jacket sleeves should hang short enough to show the tips of your shirt cuffs.
How Should a Suit Jacket Fit
Now that you know how to measure suit jacket length check out these tips to know if a regular, slim, modern, and relaxed-fit suit fits you properly.
A regular or classic fit suit jacket has broader shoulders and a little extra room in the chest and waist. It often has a button that rests a bit higher on the torso. A regular-fit suit jacket should follow the rule of covering about 80% of your seat.
While this cut does not look super sexy or modern, it does provide extra comfort and a no-nonsense, timeless style. You may also want to consider a classic cut if you struggle to find suits that fit you because you can easily take this boxier style to a tailor for alterations.
A slim-fit suit jacket has narrow shoulders, a pinched-in waist, and a lower button closure that elongates the shape of the torso. This style of jacket has a pretty tight chest as well. A slim-fit jacket can get away with hanging a little shorter, perhaps just skimming the first knuckle on your thumb when you stand with your hands at your sides.
Slim-fit suits have the most stylish appearance of all. This cut looks tight, tailored, and trendy, but it can also feel uncomfortable and prevent easy movement.
Slim-fit suits look great on slender people, though they can also help make shorter people appear taller.
A modern-style suit jacket falls between a regular fit and a slim fit in terms of tightness. It features high armholes and a fairly close-fitting chest but also has more room in the waist and shoulders than a slim-fit suit. You want this jacket to have the same length as a classic cut, falling to a length between the two knuckles on your thumbs.
Modern-cut suit jackets work well for people who want a sharp silhouette but don’t want to feel constricted by an overly tight jacket during the day.
Relaxed fit suits have an informal vibe stemming from their oversized, boxy cut. The key with this newer suit jacket style is to ensure that the jacket sleeves end at exactly the right point so you don’t look like you’re swimming in fabric! The overall length of the jacket hem can get quite a bit longer, though, depending on the cut of the relaxed jacket.
Relaxed fit suits look good on fashion-forward people willing to work to pull off the outfit. This suit style can easily look as if you bought a too-large jacket otherwise!
Is My Suit Jacket Too Long?
The easiest way to tell if your suit jacket is too long is to let your arms fall to your sides and check to see if the hem is longer than your arms. You can also use several other tricks to find out if your jacket is too long for your body type:
- With your arms straight at your sides, open your hands flat and look in a mirror to see what part of your hand the hem of the jacket touches. If the hem ends around the middle of your hand, the jacket fits you pretty well. If the hem ends down at the tips of your fingers, it is too long for you.
- While standing in front of a mirror, twist around so you can see your back. Does the hem of the jacket fall to your thighs, past your rear? If so, the jacket is too long.
- Some styles of jackets may appear longer than others, even if, technically the hem ends at the right point on your body. If you feel that a regular cut suit jacket makes you look shorter and stockier, try wearing a fitted cut instead.
Can You Shorten the Length of a Suit Jacket?
You can shorten the length of some suit jackets by a small amount. Most tailors will alter a suit jacket for $20-$90. Jackets with many seams and fancy features take more work to alter, so the price goes up for those garments.
You can always make a garment shorter or smaller, though you cannot easily make a suit jacket longer.
That said, you do run into a big problem when shortening the jacket: removing some of its lengths throws off the balance of its elements. You will no longer have the same distance from the pockets to the hem, for instance, or from the buttons to the hem. This can make the jacket look skewed or awkward in some cases.
The bottom line is that you can have a suit jacket tailored to a shorter length, but you should only try this in cases where you only need a tiny amount of length taken off to avoid throwing off the overall design.
A suit jacket that fits you perfectly should reach low enough to cover more than half of your seat and crotch. You can also measure the length using your hands, as the hem should reach partway down your thumb. If the jacket extends beyond your fingertips or does not fall past your wrist, you know it is either too long or too short for you.
One of the best ways to check your jacket length professionally is to measure from the back of your neck to the floor and divide that measurement by two. That gives you the length of a suit jacket that will fit your proportions perfectly, ensuring that your legs look long and your torso does not look too short.