The Anatomy of the Jacket
What distinguishes a well-fitting jacket from a not-so-well-fitting one? When you see it you will notice immediately, but it can be hard to dissect the details if you don’t know what to look for. We shall try to give you a feel for the details that really do matter, so that you can start to have a more educated perspective on your wardrobe.
Three Main Components
The overall impression of a jacket is largely made up of three main components. In order of importance they are; 1) the fit, 2) the cloth, and 3) the construction (how the jacket is put together). The fit is the first and foremost component and hence it is crucial to understand it for a stylish appearance. This is why, in bespoke tailoring, we start by making a unique pattern for each customer. Every body is shaped differently; the angle of the shoulder line, the roundness of the neck, the erectness of the posture, the natural pitch of the arms, etc. The making of the pattern is the cornerstone of tailoring and will ensure your jacket takes all your three dimensional shapes into consideration.
If we start from the top, the fit over the shoulders is where it all begins. Since the cloth of the jacket is hanging from the shoulders the whole balance of the garment is dependent on the shoulder fit. If you have square shoulders and a broad back, your jacket might rise up over the neck and create a “collar gap”, i.e. an opening between the shirt collar and the jacket collar. If, on the other hand, your shoulder line is sloping somewhat you will instead get a crease across the back of the jacket. When the shoulder fit is correct, the cloth will hang cleanly both in the front and back and the collar will stay on the neck when you move around. On the edge of the shoulder, the jacket should come out to the point of the outer edge of your arm so that the cloth hangs straight down the sleeve without bulging out over your bicep, or (in the case the shoulder extends too far) creating a crease across the upper arm.
Next we have the armhole, i.e. the hole through which your arms are reaching into the sleeves. In ready-to-wear jackets the armholes are normally cut quite wide. This is to ensure that arm shapes of any type can go through the hole. This has larger effect on the jacket than many would expect. As you move around your arms, the cloth is pulled up and your jacket starts to look bad. The famous dancer Fred Astaire cut the armholes on his coat extremely high so that he’d be able to make the most incredible moves without pulling the cloth noticeably. Even if few of us need to move around like Fred Astaire during our days, it is of very high importance for the overall impression of the jacket. A high cut armhole also extends the side line of the jacket, giving a longer waist shape that enhances the silhouette.
The back of the jacket should hang smoothly without creasing, and the side seams should follow the shape of the wearers back. Your posture will determine how much cloth must be put into the back to ensure it hangs right without tension or being too loose. The back should end by the end of your seat, and hence cover the seat entirely.
The chest is where the underlying structure of the jacket is most obvious. If the jacket is constructed with a hand stitched canvas the three dimensional shape of the jacket will follow the shape of the body closely without being too tight. When the jacket is buttoned the lapels should lie on the chest without sticking out and creating a pocket of air between the body and the edge of the lapel. If your chest is large we can create little darts that creates a shape that follows your body closely.
The silhouette along the waist is another key aspect that will give your jacket the right look. A bell shaped silhouette is sometimes mistaken for a tight fit, but nothing could be more wrong. A tight jacket will create tension in the cloth when you move around, leading to creases and discomfort. A well-fitting jacket will instead hang with enough room for the body to move, but given the three dimensional construction of a well-made jacket it will still look snug and follow your body’s dimensions.
Lastly, sleeves should end about 1-3 cm before the base of the thumb in order to allow the shirt cuff to peek out somewhat. For the ultimate balance in your outfit, you should aim for about the same amount of shirt sticking out from the sleeve as above your collar around the neck.
As stated in the beginning of this post, the fit is the most crucial dimension in the overall look of your jacket. When you get used to a jacket that actually fits, it will be hard to turn back. The construction of a unique pattern, combined with an average of 3 fittings, will ensure that your jacket fits perfectly. Along the way all adjustments from the fittings are added to your pattern and any following order will be based on the very same pattern. Book your appointment here to get started!
The Götrich team
Book an appointment at our tailoring shop Stockholm. Our talented team is always ready to guide you through cloth and design choices to make the clothes you dream of.