Why fit bodies need custom suits

Muscular quads and broad shoulders present unique sartorial challenges.

When not donning athletic wear, busy professional men want attire that’s cool, comfortable, and sleek. But fit guys can also have a tough time finding a suit that fits all of these parameters—and fits their physiques.

Pro athletes turn to custom suits, which lets the tailor accommodate for things like muscular quads and broad shoulders. "The custom process allows the consumer to get exactly what they are looking for," says Barry Segel, the executive vice president of Mr. Sid, a premier Boston menswear boutique.

Segel sells jackets and pants to customers (including New England Patriots players) out of Mr. Sid’s small shop in Newton, Massachusetts—and has been doing so since 1967. The brand also recently opened a second location in Boston's Seaport district, right by Equinox's Seaport location.

Furthermore caught up with Segel to find out what guys need to know about dressing up the right way.

*This interview has been slightly edited and condensed for editorial purposes.

What issues do athletes tend to have when it comes to buying suits?

Football players tend to be large, muscular men. Basketball guys are extremely tall. Everything needs to be made to measure. In most cases, athletes also have very broad shoulders with skinny waists, so with most jackets, they would have to go up to a bigger size to accommodate their shoulders, but then the front of the jacket would be too big. When measuring, we would reduce the waist of the jacket so the front panels fit properly. Another common issue is the thighs of pant legs being too tight (due to muscular quads). With custom pants, we can increase the thigh area for more comfort.

What do you find athletes look for in a suit?

I have found that the younger guy surprisingly is new to the sartorial world and tends to stay more basic; solid blue suits, for example. As these gentlemen mature, they look for more interesting fabrics and patterns, as well as different models—maybe adding a ticket pocket or having peak lapels. Athletes also want suits that fit close to the body to accentuate their physiques. In one instance Devin McCourty from the New England Patriots direct messaged me through Instagram because he saw this fabulous silk formal jacket I had just posted. He said, ‘I need that!!’ He came by and we measured him and went over all the details, like picking a custom lining, model, buttons, and even the satin for the lapel of the jacket. He has a twin brother who plays in NFL and the two of them try to one up each other with cool, beautiful jackets. I guess they are even competitive off the field.

How can you tell if a suit fits you?

Suits should fit so that your point-to-point, from one shoulder to the next, lies nicely and not hanging over your shoulders. The front of the jacket should have just a slight bit of tension on the button. Jacket collars should not have a bubble underneath and should fit snug to your neck. Pants should also be a nice slim fit, with a shorter rise and narrow bottoms.

Any tips for packing and traveling with suits?

When packing a suit, put some paper or plastic between the fold where the garment is folded in half. Also, pack it inside your garment bag. We tend to suggest great travel fabrics that are made to be more wrinkle-resistant, too. For example, Ermenegildo Zegna makes a fabric they refer to as 'high performance.' This fabric travels incredibly well. They also have a 'cool effect' fabric that is treated to reflect UV rays in the sun, so you can wear darker-colored jackets and suits in warm weather while remaining cool. These are a better fit for the athletic lifestyle. Lastly, try not to have your garment dry-cleaned often; dry cleaning ruins the finish on the fabric of the garment and after time, the fabric will look shiny and worn. Unless you actually spill on your clothing or really sweat, have suits hand-pressed instead.