One of the easiest ways to butcher the overall appearance of a coat is improper sleeve length. Too long is a frequent culprit for off the rack coats and, without alteration, will make your coat look too big no matter how impeccable the torso fits. Too short, and you may be accused of stealing your little brother’s jacket.
But the proper length is easier to nail than you’d think — and the alteration is worth every penny (for off the rack coats). While there is a small amount of preference involved, you should aim to show a quarter to half an inch of the cuff of your shirt (assuming your shirt fits properly); just about at the break of your wrist. Some say that a tuxedo sleeve should be a little shorter and a sport coat a little longer, with a suit sleeve falling right in between. But this delineation is only for the most particular, and the difference is, at most, a quarter inch in either direction.
Recently, men have identified working buttonholes as a qualifier for a well-made coat. While we are certainly proponents of functionality, a working buttonhole does not say anything about the make of a coat; a pig wearing lipstick is still a pig. If you purchase a coat with long sleeves and working buttons, you have also just purchased (at the least) a $100 tailoring bill because the alteration is much more difficult. When we make a custom coat, for our clients’ first order, we will bring in the sleeves without buttons. This way, we can make the final sleeve adjustment before the buttonholes are cut. This process saves you time and money on costly alterations.
For as much time as we spend considering some of the more difficult fit peculiarities for our customers, the basics are just as important.