Fashion & Style

Understanding suit sizes

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A man who knows how to dress is a man who will earn appreciative looks from everyone he passes.
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An understanding of men's suit styles includes knowing about sizes

Looking good is an easy mission to accomplish for a man who knows how to dress. Today’s range of styles is men's fashions are endless. Corporate casual is achieved with sweaters or knits paired with some sharply creased slacks. Formal attire ranges from rock-star outrageous to sensually sedate. Accessories in leather almost always speak of quiet sophistication.

Men who know what clothes to buy are guaranteeing appreciative recognition. A nice suit with a classy tie and shirt of a flattering color are sure to spark a second look from women—and others. Ladies know how to give that look: it’s a heavy lidded sideward slide of the eyes that invites conversation—and sometimes hanky panky. Few of those ocular invitations go out to men with slovenly habits or clothing that says—nothing.

The boss too notices a man’s wardrobe. Oftentimes, the company image is at stake when an employee ventures out of the office to meet with clients and potential money makers. A shabby pair of shoes can poke a hole in a business deal faster than an unguarded microphone at a fundraiser. Understanding how clothes fit and understanding suit sizes is important.

It’s also important to get it right when it comes to buying men’s clothing. Men’s suits and overcoats are indispensable garments used for a variety of occasions. Men’s shoes, belts and shirts augment those two main components of men’s wardrobes. And nothing looks better than an attractive group of guy wearing smiles and men’s tuxedos.

International clothing sizes impact suits and overcoats

Pants generally are sold according to waist size and inseam length. The dimensions ensure that width and length are proportionate. Big and tall men are especially lucky nowadays, for handsome king size styles are readily available. The more important of these measures for a man of any height or weight is the waist size, for pants usually have enough of a hem to either add an inch or shorten them some.

Men’s suit sizes differ according to where the garments are manufactured. It’s a help in understanding suit sizes to know there are three distinct influences: American, British and Continental—often referred to as European. American sizes are equal to British—and also Irish—sizes. A size 36 suit in the British standard will be a size 36 in American sizing designations.

However, Continental sizes add a full 10 numerals to the size in question. Thus, a size 36 in American and British standards will be a size 46 in Continental measurement for the same man’s suit. That means a 36 is a 36 is a 46. Same suit.

Men’s suit sizes:

• American = size 36
• British = size 36
• Continental = size 46

International clothing sizes also matter in men’s shoes

An even more diverse arrangement is assigned to men’s shoe sizes. A man who wears a size 8 in an American-made shoe will wear a size 7 in the British standard and a size 41 in Continental sizing delineations. Numerous reference sources featuring conversion tables also will list International Clothing Sizes for men’s suits, overcoats and shoes, in addition to women’s suits, dresses and shoes. Women’s shoes are in a similar boat—no size is the same in all three classifications.

Today’s global market brings shoes made in China and many other countries to local shoe stores in the U.S.A. It may seem strange to pick up what looks like—and actually is—a man's local size 12 and realize that it would be tagged a size 11 if it was British made or a size 46 if it was sized according to Continental sizing standards. No wonder mama does the shopping in many households.

Men’s shoe sizes:

• American = size 8
• British = size 7
• Continental = size 41

Dress for comfort and the flair will follow

What makes for a well fitting suit of clothes? Ask yourself some questions. Can you sit down comfortably in a new pair of pants without the fabric wrinkling or bunching at the waist? Does the suit jacket hang nicely from the shoulders? Check the seams in everything you wear. Do the side seams of the pants twist instead of running in a true, vertical line? That’s not good.

A visit to a tailor may be a valuable experience. A person trained in designing, cutting fabric and piecing together the perfect men’s suit knows about sizes and proportions. Pants that fit in the waist but are too short are a fashion abomination. If you can walk through high water without wetting the hems of your slacks, that’s bad. Ask a tailor for some good advice—and some quick alterations on those high-water pants.

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