Fitting a modern body into a vintage suit

Over time men's bodies have changed, adapting to changing lifestyle patterns, changing work styles and better nutrition. Here are three body types that often particularly struggle to find vintage suits.

Taller guys

As nutrition has improved, particularly in childhood and adolescence, the average height of adults in Britain has increased. Not only were less vintage suits originally made in larger sizes, but larger sizes were often cut down to make suits for shorter men or boys after their first owner no longer needed the suit.

If you are a taller man, particularly if you are over 180cm, the pickings of vintage suits in your size is likely to be low. You may need to find a 'vintage inspired' suit from a newer manufacturer, or be very open to different styles and fabrics of clothing. The best pickings are likely to come from later vintage styles, such as the 1970s, as men became taller.  

The desk jockey

As men's work has tended to become less physical, men's bodies have taken on a different shape. As men have become more desk bound, the average waist size has increased substantially. If you are someone who fits larger sizes, you may be challenged to find suits that suit a larger body, as again it was common for more generous suits to be cut down for slimmer men once their first owner no longer needed them.

Suits from the 1940s had a relatively loose style, which can be useful for larger sized gentlemen, and you can also look at adding darts or elasticated areas around the waist if you find a suit that is a close but not perfect fit.

Gym-going, active types

While the average man was more physical in the past, it was less common for men to work out in the gym. For this reason men's bodies tended to have a more 'barrel' shape compared to the now idealised 'triangle' of wider shoulders and a slim waist. If you are an eager gym goer you may find it hard to find a flattering vintage suit. Most tailors can relatively easily bring in the waist of a suit but this also reduces the jacket length, so look for a jacket that fits across the shoulders and is a little longer than you normally need for a perfect fit.

Of course if you still have trouble finding a suit that fits you, it can be ideal to get custom made suits online. That way you can get a suit that is perfectly made to your body type, with the vintage details you admire.


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