When Silhouette and Fit Collide

Posted by: on Mar 16, 2012 | 2 Comments

There are many factors that contribute to how tailored clothing looks on a person.  Most of the time, silhouette and fit describe two completely different things that are often collapsed in conversation.  But sometimes the two are actually the same, and it’s almost never a good thing.

Simon Crompton (of Permanent Style) wrote a great article, Silhouette and Fit: Know the Difference, way back in 2008, and it really is one of the menswear blog classics.  Go read it right now if you haven’t already, and then come back so I can put in my two cents.

When silhouette and fit become the same thing, it’s almost always when either fit becomes so bad as to change the overall impression of the clothes or the intended silhouette is so radical as to make good fit impossible.  I wouldn’t advocate striving for either of these two things, though a few examples seem to have become trend-gospel as of late.

Below are images of what I think are example of good fit and stylish silhouette – no reason to throw stones at the guys I disagree with, and I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m getting at.  It’s dressing, after all, not war.

The first offender, and probably the most prevalent, is the too-high and too-tight jacket trend.  It’s a weird interpretation of a particular Italian silhouette that places button-stance a little higher and uses a shorter skirt to lengthen the legs and draw attention to the chest.  But when I can see half your shirt-front between your coat quarters and there is a pull-induced crease all the way around your middle, you’re not achieving this silhouette.  The terrible fit kills the intended silhouette.

Cropped trousers are another exaggeration.  You can go read my recent post on trouser-bottoms for more info, but suffice it to say that there is a not-so-fine line between wanting to prevent your legs from looking stumpy and bottom-heavy and wearing trousers that look like they were meant for your kid brother.  Not only are you missing the point of no-break trousers, but it also makes you look desperate for everyone to look at your shoes.  Not elegant at all.

I could go on dissecting any number of persnickety examples, but I’ll just point out a few more before leaving you.  Barely-there cutaway collars (and their opposite the super-huge spread), the wing-shouldered “power” suit, and the crazy slim overcoat are all on the avoid list.  Otherwise, just think a little and I’m sure you’ll know what’s smart and what’s not.


Thanks as usual to the guys at The Armoury for taking some of the best menswear photos on the internet.


  1. Derek Guy
    March 16, 2012

    Damn it. I just wrote a post about fit vs. style. Back to the drawing board.

    • Stephen
      March 16, 2012

      Haha, sorry ’bout that Derek. Though I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter too.


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