Modern Fit vs. Slim Fit: Key Differences [Suit Fit Guide]

What is the difference between slim fit and modern fit? And what actually is “modern fit” anyway? These are questions that we’re often asked here at Oliver Wicks. As our fans already know, a great-fitting suit is the key to true sartorial elegance—after all, that’s why our slogan is “the fit that suits you!” Just because something is hip or “in” doesn’t mean it’s a great match for you and your unique physique. 

Today our expert tailors will walk you through the basics of a classic fit suit vs modern fit and ensure you make the right choice every time. So, whether you’re simply curious about the meaning of a modern fit suit or actively shopping for the right style for you, we have everything you need right here.

What is Modern Fit?

An outline of a suit with a modern fit

Alongside suit types, each suit has a specific cut. Modern fit, also called a “tailored fit”, is a very popular cut, and for most men, it will be the default go-to. It occupies the middle ground between the looser “classic” fit and the ultra-sleek “slim fit.” To help you visualize this better, think of the iconic stock broker or banker look from the 1950s. While these high rollers were at the top of their professions and dressed accordingly, to the modern eye, they look somewhat “baggy”—even though you can also clearly see that the suits fit well! Many modern men’s chinos suffer from the same issue.

Modern fit was introduced to counter this effect as tailoring techniques and top-end fabrics became more sophisticated and allowed for a more shaped cut. It is still loose enough to move and sit comfortably through business meetings but allows you to showcase your body more. It’s clean, sophisticated, and “adult” and suitable for any occasion—from sophisticated cocktail attire to business casual

Modern fit will compliment men of pretty much any build, which is a key reason for its popularity. . As we mentioned, it is a safe go-to if you’re unsure where to start with suits. While many silver foxes embrace modern fit suits (and look great in them), some older men who “grew up” in the era of classic fit suits may not like the look and feel, but don’t rule it out before you try it! You could find it liberating and freeing. 

You would expect the more refined fit to draw attention to a heavy chest or midsection, but it is actually very slimming—far more so than the classic cut! More muscular gents also find it a good balance between the elegance of the cut and not feeling like a mafioso goon about to pop his sleeves. This is a mid-level cut, after all, meaning that it is designed to capture the benefits of classic and slim without the cons of looking “tight” or feeling uncomfortable. 

Shirts for Modern Fit Suits

As a rule of thumb, the cut of your shirt should match the cut of your suit. Of course, fashion rules can always be broken, but it’s best to pair them up by default. As with the modern fit suit, modern cut dress shirts conform to the body's shape but keep a more relaxed armhole, fuller sleeves, and more room in the shoulders and chest than slim fit while still tapering at the waist. 

They’re fitted rather than slim, which is closer to skin-tight. They offer comfort for long days in the boardroom but still fit elegantly, and body consciously and beautifully showcase top-end fabrics, like silk.

Modern Fit Pants and Suit Separates

What are the key features of modern fit pants? They sit slightly below the “natural waist,” unlike classic fit pants, which lengthen the chest and torso. While they are shaped to follow the contours of your lower half, they don’t cling. Rather than the strict taper of slim fit, they hang straighter through the leg. 

The seat is also a great compromise between the somewhat loose classic fit and the rather tight slim fit, allowing for comfort in movement and while sitting without looking baggy or unshaped. This elongates and lengthens the legs, balancing that lower waist and creating a neat, sophisticated silhouette that makes you look leaner. If you are wearing suit separates, match the cut of the pants to the cut of the blazer or smoking jacket.

There’s no occasion where a modern fit suit doesn’t fit right in, so if you favor them, you will have immense versatility in your wardrobe.

What is Slim Fit?

An outline of a suit with a slim fit

Whereas modern fit suits project modernity, sharp dressing, and cool confidence, slim fit suits are snappier and more daring while retaining contemporary elegance. While the modern fit has some “room to maneuver,” slim fit conforms quite tightly to your body. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should be bursting out at the seams—that’s a common misconception. However, because of the tighter cut, slim fit can feel a little restrictive for long hours sitting or moving around.

Slim fit can be very slimming (who would have thought, right) but is not the right choice for men who lack body confidence, move a lot during the day or, conversely, spend long periods sitting, want to draw attention away from a paunch, a barrel-shaped torso, or thin legs, or have considerable musculature that can be pinched or uncomfortable. On average, there’s two inches less fabric throughout slim fit than there is in modern fit. 

It’s important to realize, however, that slim fit suits are specifically tailored to sit the way they do. They’re not the same as wearing a too-small suit, where you will look gauche and poorly dressed—like a Christmas ham about to pop. Just a tight, clean, and trendy line that emphasizes the body underneath it. Typically it is favored by younger men, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it if you are no longer among “the youth!” Men of all ages can look great in a slim fit if it suits their bodies.

One final consideration for slim suits - While a modern, tailored fit is the go-to that has passed the test of time, slim fit is a bit more “glossy magazine trendy.” That’s fine when on trend, but right now slim fits are a bit last decade. 

Shirts for Slim Fit Suits

Again, match your shirt cut to your suit cut unless you specifically want to “break the rules.” While we promise that the fashion police won’t come after you if you don’t, it’s the best way to create a clean and continuous line through your look. 

Slim fit suits conform very snugly to the torso, with a noticeable taper towards the wrist and a lack of fullness in the sleeve, without looking tacky. The shoulders are sharply defined, and there’s a clear reduction in the fabric at the waist. Where modern cut shirts are shaped but looser at the waist, slim fit shirts conform to the entire length of the torso. They tuck in very neatly due to this. Don’t forget that the cut of the shirt and its style are two different things. 

The reason we say this is because if you have a slim shirt, and a classic suit, you’ll probably look like you’ve borrowed your garments from other people rather than put together a winning outfit that is tailored around your style. 

Slim Fit Pants and Suit Separates

We’ve looked at some of the key distinctions in slim fit pants, but let’s get a little more in-depth. Unlike the modern fit, which follows the body but retains a straight line visually, slim fit pants clearly taper, hugging the legs. They share the lower waistline but have a tighter seat. This is great if you want to showcase the area, but it can be restrictive if you’re sitting through endless meetings or have to bend, twist, and move a lot during the day. You can get away with a modern fit blazer and a slim fit in your pants, but it is typically best to match them up where possible.

We will look at this in a little more depth later, but slim fit is a trendy style, unlike the classic line of modern fit, so you should keep your slim fit suits for occasions where strutting your stuff is appropriate.

Have you ever seen someone split their pants at a wedding? …that’s often because they were too tight to begin with, and some champagne-fuelled dance moves were all it took for the seam to give way. 

Modern Fit vs. Slim Fit—Side-by-side Comparison

Now, let’s get a bit more precise. Modern fit suits feature:

  • Higher armholes than classic fit
  • A fitted chest that follows the torso without clinging
  • Pants that sit lower on the waist and a jacket that ever-so-slightly “nips” at the waist
  • Pants that taper through the thighs and calves but without being tight
  • An ankle that is narrower with no flapping (referred to as the “leg opening”)

 Here’s a roundup of slim fit’s key characteristics

  •  Narrow arm holes, often very high
  • Very shape-confirmative through the torso with a clear “nip” at the waist
  • Pants that still sit lower on the waist
  • Cut closer to the waist, seat, and thighs
  • This continues through the length of the thigh
  • Slim and straight at the ankle

So, if we put them side by side, here’s what we get:


Modern Fit

Slim Fit


A fitted shoulder, with good movement

Still fitted, but sharply angular


High armholes for a cleaner look

Also, high armholes, but narrow


Fitted nicely through the chest

Conforming chest


More tapering that classic 

A defined taper with little excess fabric


Shaped, but not tight

Clear taper adhering closely to the waist

Seat and Thigh Area

Conforming to the leg, but without clinging

Clearly fitted to the body 

Leg Openings

Tapered from the calf, but not baggy or slim 

Narrower leg openings, continuing to taper to the ankle

Which Type Should I Get?

A close up image of a man in a black suit buttoning up his jacket

As a rule of thumb, modern fit suits look great on any body type. Slim fit, like the classic fit, suits specific body types and styles best.

Slim fit best suits overall slender frames. So, if you tend to describe yourself as lean, lanky, or spare, or you have slim shoulders, it can be a fantastic way to stay stylish and not be dwarfed by your clothing. However, very tall men may find slim fit a little too slimming, over-emphasizing their height. In contrast, many shorter men love this elongating effect.

Men with broad shoulders, or a lot of muscle in the thighs, calves, or upper arms, will typically prefer modern cuts, so there’s “breathing room” for those guns. If you are naturally short in the leg and long in the torso or have a barrel shape to your chest, you will likely also prefer a modern fit, and may even like the higher rise of classic cuts, to better balance your silhouette.

I’m Larger or Older. Should I Avoid Slim Fit?

People often advise that slim fit isn’t for larger or older men—but we call foul on that! Just because the cut runs tighter, this doesn’t mean that it should be so tight that you look ill-fitted, no matter what your body morphology is. A slim fit isn’t an excuse to strain your buttons! While larger men, in particular, often go for baggy styles, feeling the extra fabric will “hide” what they don’t like about their body, it does the opposite—it makes you look unkempt and emphasizes areas that you don’t want to draw attention to, with oodles of extra fabric bunching up.

Having said that… In context, 9 times out of 10, larger or older gentlemen are simply looking for something a little more refined than a classic suit, so we recommend a modern fit to most clients in this position. 

Matching the Mood

If we had to put modern fit and slim fit suits into two boxes, it would be these

  • Slim fit is trendy, edgy, and in many ways a bit impractical
  • Modern fit is graceful, classically elegant, sophisticated, and will never go out of style. 

So again, modern fit has the versatility to suit any occasion. If you're not sure what to wear to a wedding or you’re building a wardrobe for daily business, opt for this cut. A slim fit should be carefully chosen. Few men can wear this convincingly in the boardroom, and it’s not great for high-tier eventing. It could fit a semi-formal wedding well, however, and makes a great suit for about-town, casual dinner dates, and occasions where you want to show off a little. If you’re the sort to happily throw on a maroon suit and invite stares, a slim fit will match that boldness. If you’re a little shy and agonize about choosing a tie for a gray suit in fear of a misstep, a modern fit will leave you classically elegant without feeling uncomfortably spotlighted.

Remember, all the best suit brands offer a variety of cuts for their suits, so you will always be able to find a stellar match for your tastes. At the end of the day, what matters most is not the suit fit you choose, but how you look and feel wearing it. If you feel fantastic and can project that confidence knowing that you’re well-presented and stylishly dressed, you’re 100% of the way there. So, don’t choose a suit cut because you feel obligated to, but rather because you love how it makes you feel when wearing it.


Remember that overall there are 3 main fit types - Classic, Modern/Tailored, and Slim. In our decade of experience, few people regret choosing a modern fit, while more people choosing slim wish they’d gone down the middle instead. This is the best fit for most people when it comes to formal dress for men. 

And there you have it! Now you know the key differences between modern fit and slim fit—and how to best pick a cut for your body, the event, and your tastes—you need never settle for second best. You’ll always look sleek and stylish. 

Remember, the Oliver Wicks master tailors can create our suits in any cut you wish, so you can always have a suit that fits you impeccably. If you have any further questions about suit cuts, or just want to reach out to our experienced team, we’re always happy to help—drop us a line at If you’re looking for more tips and tricks on how to dress for success, remember you can always subscribe to our weekly newsletter, too—simply hop on any page on our site, and the option will be on the bottom right of the page. We look forward to hearing from you!