Style / September 2015

The Noble Ninefold Path to Suit Enlightenment, Part II

The Rake’s Founder & Editor-in-Chief continues to traverse the path to suit enlightenment, this time addressing three fundamentals of the suit jacket; it’s length, skirt and pocket placement.

Three: The Jacket Length

While this can be a question of personal style - and we defer to the sartorial might of tailors Joe Morgan and Edward Sexton, both of whom like a longer coat - The Rake generally believes that correct jacket length is largely pre-determined by your physicality.

While the commonly held belief is that the ideal jacket length for most men sees its bottom edge coincide with the first joint of the thumb when the arm is held straight down, the fact is that jacket lengths have become slightly shorter in recent years. Part of this is the idea of jackets assimilating to the demands of active men who are moving through the urban environment on Boris Bikes or racing through the airport for a connecting flight. Another part of this, quite honestly, is fashion.

But The Rake acknowledges that the average jacket length has gone up a full inch and now ends where the thumb meets the hand. The Rake likes to think that the correct coat length today falls between the more modern and more classic of these two yardsticks and, if you think about it, that one inch of difference is not, from an empirical perspective, a tremendous distance. What is more important is that selecting the right jacket length can manipulate its affect on your appearance.

The long and the short of it…

Three of Savile Row’s finest showcase their penchants for different coat lengths

Left to right: Richard Anderson’s jaunty coats feature a more moderate length, reflecting his house style’s origins in equestrian and riding dress; neither too long or short. Michael Browne, razor sharp cutter at Chittleborough & Morgan favours a long, lean coat. Contemporary British tailors Luke Sweeney and Thom Whiddett opt for a shorter jacket, which feels a little less old-school on.


Shorter Man: Shorter jacket

A shorter man should wear a slightly shorter jacket to create a lengthening effect to his legs. However, there are limits to how short a jacket can be. It should never be shorter than the joint where the thumb meets the hand - otherwise you run the risk of looking like a flight stewardess.

Can a short man wear double-breasted?

There is a common but misplaced belief that a shorter man cannot wear a double-breasted suit, which is totally unfounded. A shorter man absolutely can wear double-breasted, as long as he selects the correct jacket length. The Duke of Windsor stood only 5 foot 5 while Humphrey Bogart was only 5 foot 8, yet both wore double-breasted jackets to spectacular effect. Looking at these images, you can see that they wore shorter jackets with slightly lower buttoning points to create a sense of length in their torsos.

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Wei Koh

The Rake's Founder & Editorial Director.