Look like a Grown-Up, Dammit! (On the Cheap)

So, welcome back. In our last installment we talked about the Navy Blazer and how it can make most of us slackers look just a bit more cleaned up and presentable. This time around, I want to talk about how you can procure such a garment.

-The first step I recommend is going into a menswear store or department store and ask an associate to measure you. The important measurement here is your chest. this magical number is usually about 6 inches bigger than your pants size and will indicate your jacket size. After that, try on a couple jackets. If you’ve got the budget, maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for right there.

However I have found that there are WAY more cost-efficient alternatives, such as eBay and thrift stores. I’ve found a lot of luck in thrift stores, and for as little as $5.00.

Always check the inside pockets for a label that will indicate size. sizes usually range from 36-50 and will have the letters S (short), R (regular), or L (long) next to the number. If you’re shorter than about 5’7″ go for the short, taller than that but under 6′ go with a regular, and if you’re taller than that, grab the Long. from there, try on until you find a good fit.

So, once you’ve got a basic idea of your size, here’s some quick ways to ensure fit.

-Look at yourself in a mirror. Make sure that the jacket is not too long and not too big in the shoulders.

-For length, put your hands at your sides and grip the fabric on the sides of your jacket like you’re picking up a wheelbarrow. it should look like this:

not this:

If there’s too much bunching of fabric in your hands, the jacket is too long. if there’s no fabric to grab, the jacket may be too short (of course, some guys like a shorter jacket, a la Thom Browne, but I’m speaking generally.)

Another big “fit trick” is your shoulders. As has come back into fashion, you’re going to want a soft, less structured shoulder for a more natural look; no one likes shoulder pads. Although if the jacket is too big, it’s going to look like shoulder pads anyway. I’ve found the “wall trick” helps figure this out: With the jacket on, lean your shoulder into a wall. If you feel the jacket’s shoulder hit the wall first before your actual shoulder, it’s too big (or you’ve got way too much shoulder pad going on).

It should look like this:

Not this. There’s too much fabric bunching up in the shoulder on this blazer:

As for the buttons, I’m of the school of though that your top button (on a 2 button jacket; or middle button on a 3 button) should always be buttoned when you are standing up. With that being said, make sure you at least have enough room in that jacket body to fit your closed fist in there with comfort. If not, it will look way too tight. And about that button, make sure it doesn’t fall below your navel; it’ll just look funny if it does.

Notice how the lower button makes the jacket look longer than it is:

As for the sleeves…most department store blazers have sleeves that are too long, sometimes on purpose, so you will shill out more money to their tailor shops for alterations. Even so, my guideline for sleeve length is to have no more than 3/4″ of shirt cuff showing from a proper fitting dress shirt. Roughly, the jacket sleeve should hit right about at your wrist bone. (Refer to the above images)

Once you’ve found yourself that perfect blazer or sport coat with that perfect fit, stand tall, look at how dang cleaned up you look! Now what can you wear your new blazer with? We’ll cover that next time.

(Slider image is used for educational purposes; we make no ownership claim of it.)

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Richard Buznego

Punk rock stepdad. Plays rock and roll, works retail, wears bow ties.

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