Tailoring: A Game of Inches

October 14th, 2014

Tailoring is, literally, a game of inches. And it’s all about proportions.

Here’s a quick tip on pairing collars, ties and jackets together: they look best if they are the same width.

Here’s two examples.

1. Slim & Minimal


A collar is measured from the neckband seam to the point along one side. A lapel is measured perpendicular to the roll line at it’s widest point. A tie is measured straight across at its widest point.

In this look they all measure exactly 2.5″, which is on the quite-narrow side for all three, but together the narrow lines complement each other. The slim and minimal proportions create a sharp look that portrays neatness and attention to detail. Finish it off with just a touch of pocket square and if you’re going with a tie bar keep it petite.

The narrow lapel and short collar is also great for a slimmer/smaller guy, like my man Dennis who studied under the king of shrunken-proportions Thom Browne and nails the minimalist look.


Suit by Michael Andrews Bespoke. Shirt by Ralph Lauren Black Label. Tie by Lord Wallington.

2. Big & Bold


What a difference an inch can make… Jokes aside, here the lapel, collar and tie are each 3.5″. That extra inch makes for a decidedly differently look; more luxurious, dandy, and expressive. Perhaps a little more in-your-face.

The longer power collar” sits higher up on the neck, making it great for taller guys. Not so good, however, for guys with short necks (or big muscular shoulders/traps). The collar should never get too close to the chin/jawline.

Personally, I like the lapel to cover roughly half the distance across the chest from the roll-line to the shoulder. Therefore, at my size (6’2″ 195 lbs) I prefer these slightly larger proportions. It feels more balanced.


Bespoke suit by Alexander Nash. Shirt by Angel Bespoke. Tie by Passaggio Cravatte.


Stay tailored my friends. Just remember: it’s all about proportions, and an inch can make a difference.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier


Photography by Alex Crawford

  • gk

    as a custom clothing tailor, its more like a game of quarters (.25”)

  • Juan Zara

    I think anything under 3″, for both tie and lapel width, is reserved for those who normally wear a size 34 or smaller (36-37″ chest or less). I have a 39″ chest, and normally wear anything from a size 36 to a size 39, and it would be unthinkable for me to wear anything as narrow as the first look here. I mostly wear jackets with 3.5″ lapels and slightly narrower ties (closer to 3.1″, or 8 cm), as I prefer to show more of my shirt. And on double-breasted jackets I actually prefer to go wider than that.

    I remember you used to wear much narrower stuff back in the day, when the website had just took off, Dan. It’s nice to see that over the years you’ve come to embrace wider lapels and ties. It really does make a difference and looks much more balanced on your rather muscular frame.

  • mcslimjb

    Thanks so much for this post. It’s amazing to me how many entertainers and other public figures (who presumably have the services of professional stylists) don’t understand this very basic precept.

  • Esosa

    Personally for my body type, off the rack, I need a lapel size of a 3.25 and over and m2m/bespoke a 3.5-4 for my broad chest and shoulders..when I see big guys with smaller lapels (below 3″ ‘s) it looks like their chest is naked…which means there is way too much space between the lapel and shoulder..only the really slight of build can pull off a slimmer lapel..shot out to Dan on this very informative post too!

  • AdamE

    Definitely a 2 1/2″ guy, 6’0″ 185lbs, I can never get into wider ties, because I feel like they are there to protect me from stains at a lobster dinner, rather than as an accessory. I find for me, narrower ties give a longer leaner silhouette. As a result, when I buy my suits, I always ask them to make them with a narrower lapel to match the width of the ties that I wear, which is usually in the 2.5″ ballpark.

  • John

    Hey Dan unrelated question, how do you trim your beard at the neck line, I’m always confused by that because I’ve seen so people trim it clean all the way to the jaw line and some to the start if the neck and some to the Adam’s apple, just wondering

  • TO

    Great article. Love that you summed this one up in pictures- you really can see the outfits have great balance to them.
    Would be interesting to discuss thoughts on how big of a tie knot(s) go well in proportion with these other aspects (lapel, shirt collar).
    I like the points your guest Squalor to Baller has made about the proportions of lapel and collar too.

  • Rob

    Those Gucci’s killed that 1st look!

  • http://instagram.com/stevensantander Steven Santander

    Loving the new Alexander Nash suit! The minimal two button double breasted has always been one of my favorite looks. And of course wide lapels and ties will always be my preference.

  • Eric

    Dan, for one of your “editorials,” could y’all focus on doing a pro/con assessment of some of the big fabric houses? I know you’re keen on Ariston, but I’d be curious to know your thoughts (for better and for worse) on some of the other players out there.

  • Miguel

    I guess I’m in the middle since I’m 5’8, interesting post Dan.
    This is what gets me to come back to TSB, this article for some might be worthless but to some of us that are learning is a plus, like you said, a game of inches.

  • Jeff P.

    Ugh…I used to be the 2″ lapel guy. Even at 6’0″ 150 (a shoe string…I know), that was pushing it. Nowadays I’m comfortable at a 3″ lapel/tie. I think it’s the perfect balance.

  • cam

    I’m a 3″ guy myself..haha

  • Ali Naaseh

    Homie, completely unrelated: but I’m gonna cry if the style guide doesn’t come back… I miss the days where I could select “striped henley” and see every single look from the archives that featured that piece.

    • John

      I also noticed a lot of the older posts that I wanted to view again weren’t hosting the pictures anymore. Really would like to see those again!

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Thanks for the feedback guys. Apologies for the issues. We are 100% bringing back The Style Guide, in a big way. Working on polishing it up for you right now… Big changes coming!

    • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

      It’s on it’s way back my man, I promise. Just making sure we got all the kinks out for you. Thanks for the continue support Ali!