The average height for men currently is 5' 9", with the common assumption being everyone under that should be considered short. Though this is the average, meaning it's the middle. So there is a lot of room above and below that "average." The problem is that this wasn't told to the people in charge at the various suit design houses. Most of them currently cut their "short" version suit for men in this height range. This poses a big issue for short men who wear suits, as a "short" suit still tends to be too long.
Just remember that shortening a suit is taking away fabric. This is easier. Taller or larger men need more fabric for alterations, therefore have to go up a size to alter a suit to fit.
For short men, when it comes to looking your best in a suit, the fit is the most crucial ingredient. Creating the straightest and most streamlined silhouette possible can go a long way toward making your body appear longer. Wearing a suit that is too long and baggy can make you look like you borrowed your suit from your dad. Worse yet, the sloppy appearance this creates can diminish your expertise in the eyes of your colleagues.
Guys under 5' 9" often have to get creative when shopping for a suit - and not all men can afford custom-made clothing. Fortunately, there are ways that men of below-average height can still enjoy above-average looks when they're dressing up nice. Our suit-buying tips for short men, along with a little tailoring to get the proportions right, will help you find the right apparel off the rack without spending a fortune.
Here are a few things for short men to look for when buying a suit:
- Look for suits with vertical striping. This may seem obvious, yet it is still the best way to add a little length to a shorter frame. Keep the stripes subtle, no need for bold stripes.
- Wear a shirt with vertical striping as well. This can get tricky as too many stripes can feel like an optical illusion. To pull it off, make sure that the stripes vary in weight, boldness and spacing.
- Look for a shorter cropped jacket. Custom suit makers have been using this technique for years. By cutting the jacket a tad bit shorter, they create the illusion of longer legs.
- On this note, you should also have your pant legs tailored a little shorter than normal. The closely cropped look makes you look taller since your trousers won't be swallowing you up.
- Go for monochromatic coloring. If you wear a dark suit, match it with a black belt (or braces or suspenders) and black shoes. This gives the longest lines possible for your legs.
- Keep things clean and simple with your suit and shirt. Bold patterns create visual breaks that will actually make you look shorter.
- Get flat-front suit pants that sit right above the natural waistline. Low-rise pants make your legs look short, while high-raise pants make your torso look shorter.
- No cuffs on the jacket or pants. Again, creating the longest line is the goal here.
What should short men watch out for when suit-shopping? Here are the main things:
- Choose the brand carefully. Some brands, like Hugo Boss, cut their jackets with a longer silhouette. It is very flattering for average height and tall men but can look like a three-quarter length suit jacket for shorter men. All "short" suits are not created equally; finding a brand that cuts their jacket shorter is always the best way to start.
- You should always watch out for the salesman! They will almost always put you in a coat that is too long and tell you it is fine, or even worse, tell you that they can chop an inch or two off the bottom of the jacket. The latter is a very bad idea, as this destroys the proportion of the suit because the lower pockets become too close to the jacket.
- Avoid any type of horizontal patterns. Checks and windowpanes can make for a nice suit but create horizontal lines that rob you of height.
- Don't wear large or flashy accessories. Those snazzy watches and rings do the same thing as bold suit patterns - make you look shorter.
Shopping for a new suit doesn't have to be stressful. Ask friends for recommendations on a shop and a tailor. Stay patient and ask questions about the fit of a suit and whether it will add height. If you aren't comfortable with the salesman's answer, you might want to continue shopping with a different salesman or at a different store.