How should a sweater fit? Read this and never buy the wrong sweater again.
How often have you bought something that doesn’t suit you? Maybe you thought it did when you bought it. Or you hate shopping so much that after trying on fifteen other sweaters you just wanted to leave the shop with something.
Whatever, you got it home and you can see something is wrong. You’re not quite sure what, but it doesn’t look right. Still, you’re going to wear it because it wasn’t cheap and you’re damn well going to get your monies worth.
Sound familiar? Well, for the moment let’s just gloss over the fact you’re going around wearing something that doesn’t suit you and move right on to solving the problem.
How Should a Sweater Look?
It’s a common misconception that well-dressed people look good as a result of some happy accident. They were just born knowing how to dress. Not true.
Dressing well is not some special talent. Literally anyone can do it. It doesn’t matter what shape you are. How old you are. None of that stuff is important. What matters is knowing what to look for. A glance in the general direction of the mirror is not going to cut it.
You need specifics. Think of it like the rules of sport. Just learn the rules and apply them. It’s that simple. OK?
Goldilocks: Too Big, Too Small and Just Right
To help understand the correct fit we’ll follow the Goldilocks model. We’ll start with one that’s too big, then too small and finish with one that’s just right.
This Sweater’s Too Big
Let’s start with a sweater that’s too big. Buying too big is a common mistake for anyone who’s slightly self-conscious about their size, or shape. The thing is, it’s just going to make everything worse. A bigger sweater will only ever make you look….bigger.
An excess of fabric around the body may feel like a tempting proposition to conceal any areas of concern – possibly the tummy – but you will lose definition at the shoulders, arms and chest. The parts of your body that define shape and stature.
To explain in more detail, let’s take it point by point:
Shoulders – the shoulders are too big, meaning the shoulder seam is sagging over the end of the shoulders. You can see the shoulder seam on the right arm intersecting the bicep. Way too low. All definition is lost.
Arms – because the shoulder fit is wrong and the armhole is too big, the fabric is billowing over the arms. Again, there is no definition, making the chest and arms seem much stockier than they are. The sleeves are also way too long. A cuff that finishes at the wrist is neater and more flattering.
Collar – the position of the collar doesn’t look too bad, but this is only because the sweater is bunched over the lower body. If it was pulled to lie flat, as it should, the V would sit too low on the body.
Body – the sweater is gaping and slouching around the chest and waist meaning it’s too wide across the body. It is unflattering and makes the wearer seem much larger than he is.
Length – this sweater is too long. It’s sitting rather low, but if it was pulled taught it would sit even lower, well below the hips. Ideally a sweater should sit just below the belt line. Certainly, no more than 5cm (2 inches) lower than this. Or you risk looking dumpy and disproportionate. All big body and short, stumpy legs.
This Sweater’s Too Small
Firstly, it’s important to make a distinction between a slim fit sweater and one that’s too small. No matter how a jumper is cut, slim or otherwise, there should be between 2.5-5cm (1-2inches) of loose fabric, either side of the body. 2.5cm is about right for a slim fit.
Whilst definition is important, a sweater in which every pec and muscle is visible, is as unflattering – even on a fine physique – and unappealing as one worn too big. The fibres will be stretched to their limits, puckering and straining; every wrinkle and button on the shirt underneath will be visible. Not good unless you aim to look like a schoolboy undergoing a growth spurt.
Shoulders – the shoulders on this sweater are way too small, the fabric has had to make a big stretch to fit over the shoulders of the wearer. You can tell this because the V-neck has been distorted into more of U as a result of the stretch.
Arms – the wrinkles around the right armpit are the clue that the armholes are too small. They’re pinching under the arms and are likely restrictive and uncomfortable. Very little freedom of movement. Not much hope of elbowing your way to the bar in a busy pub. The sleeves are also too short, ending well above the wrist.
Collar – as pointed out above the sweater is pulled so tight across the shoulders and chest that the collar is completely distorted. It is puckering at the point of the V. A clear sign of a sweater that is too small.
Body – the fabric is stretched so taught across the chest that the pecs are visible. This is the male equivalent of showing too much cleavage. Whilst there will always be an audience for this sort of thing, it’s not a very discerning one. And, certainly not a very classy look.
Length – as stated before, a sweater should finish below the belt. And there’s a very good reason for this. Just try to imagine what would happen to the model in this image were he to bend over? Yep, that’s right. What little fabric there is would ride up his back exposing a vast acreage of shirt. Fine, if you’re wearing a shirt, but….well, it’s just too short.
This Sweater’s Just Right
At last, one that’s just right. Looks good doesn’t it. Not shouty and flashy. Just effortless and as it should. So, let’s go through what makes it work.
Shoulders – the shoulder seam sit right on the shoulder point, the exact point at which the shoulder joint fits into the shoulder socket. If you have any trouble identifying where this is just place one hand on the opposite shoulder. Then run your hand from the neck across the shoulder whilst raising the opposing arm out to the side. As your run your hand across your shoulder you reach the point where you can feel the joint moving. This is where the seam should sit.
Arm – the arm is well-defined within the sleeve, there’s no puckering around the armpit (too small), or bagging fabric (too big). It hangs nicely leaving enough room for movement and finishes neatly at the wrist.
Collar – the collar is lying flat against the chest and the shirt collar points are just neatly tucked under the V. This is the optimum collar fit.
Body – the fabric sits smoothly across the chest without puckering. It defines the shape of the body perfectly without being too tight. There is enough give at the sides – between 2.5-5cm of fabric – without there being an excess.
Length – the sweater is sitting just about 4cm below the belt. Long enough to allow for plenty of movement with the sweater riding up, whilst also maintaining the proportionate appearance of length in the body and the legs.
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