Garment Doctor: Jacket Side Crunching

February 11th, 2013

I’ve been studying fine tailoring, meticulously, for years.

I graduated from the menswear pattern-making and design program at NYC’s Fashion Institute of Technology, I managed the measuring and fitting at one of the city’s premiere bespoke clothiers, and I’ve worked with master tailors in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Throughout this process, the first thing that struck me was how little the average guy knows about clothing manufacturing, even those who are obsessed with “proper fit”.

Therefore, I’m starting this on-going segment on Articles of Style Daily called the “Garment Doctor Series” where I will try to break-down common fit issues in a practical, straight-forward manner for our readers. Throughout this series we will discuss “proper fit” and highlight common tailoring issues along with their causes, symptoms and, ultimately, remedies.

To begin, the photo directly below shows how a properly-fitting suit should look in a standing, natural position (in my opinion). Notice the fabric is drapping cleanly across the body, providing full three-dimensional coverage without any visible pulling, creasing or wrinkling.


Common Issue: side “crunching” caused by a low shoulder.

Everybody is unique and every body is uneven in some way. This is why becoming a master bespoke tailor is a lifelong pursuit – they’re engineers who use complex geometry to work two-dimensional fabric around the laws of physics and gravity.

Most of us have one shoulder that sits physically lower than the other (this can be caused by genetics, injuries, overusing one side of the body, carrying an unbalanced load routinely, etc).

If the jacket is not properly cut for uneven shoulder slope, the following can occur:


The fix: there are two possible fixes to this issue.

1. Cutting down the low shoulder to accurately follow the slope of the body. This is major surgery. It involves removing the sleeve, seperating the front and back panels, and recutting the shoulder lines. You’re looking at probably $100+ in alteration charges – if your tailor even offers this service.

2. Add minimal padding to “lift” the low shoulder. When some guys hear the words shoulder padding they freak-out because of the current obsession with the “soft shoulder”. Keep in mind that padding will not make the point-to-point of the shoulders any wider. It will simply balance out your right and left slopes for better symmetry and smoothen out the “crunching”. This is a much easier fix for the tailor. He simply trims and fits the pad as needed, opens up the jacket lining beneath the shoulder and sets the pad in place. He may also need to move the front button a fraction, since the panels might shift as a result of the new pad.

I hope some of you found this helpful. My intentions are not to have guys running to the tailor to fix every little wrinkle (life is all about trade-offs), I simply want to share what I’ve learned about tailoring and alterations to help guys understand what is possible and what isn’t.

Thanks, as always, for reading. If you have any questions about our online custom menswear, feel free to contact us anytime. We look forward to serving as your personal tailor and stylist. 

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier

Shop Custom Menswear Made in America


Take me to the Shop

  • nikhil

    The Garment doctor series simply rocks. Love all your tips. The problem you discuss on this forum are all faced by commoner. Wish you all the best for all your future endeavors. Thanking you

  • rue vogiatz

    Great article and blog overall. In most cases an extra thin pad would suffice-minimising the difference rather then correcting(which could appear to severe). Cutting down shoulder is a min 2 hour job if done correctly. We allow 2 to 3 hours for this. Our clients recognise the work involved and respect the skills of tailoring-it’s a $250-$375 job here. To an outsider this appears expensive, enlightened know it’s simply a business cost based on time. Nothing less, nothing more.

  • Zach

    Great idea for a post! not only does it help to understand WHY things happen, but also perhaps certain things to avoid when shopping. For example, if i were to try on that jacket and saw the ‘crunching,’ i may decide just to buy it and bring it to a tailor; but understanding what is major and minor ‘surgery’ as you put it might very well cause me to think twice and go look for something else.

  • Kyle Olson

    Hey Dan, thanks a lot for this. I work at a Men’s Wearhouse and I think this series will really help my confidence in consulting with my customers to find the best fit for their builds — not to mention what our tailors are and are not capable of fixing. Thanks again!

  • Jordan

    Once again another brilliant idea! Hope this series continues, have just started to become interested in tailoring myself, perfect timing ha

    Keep up the great work!

  • JK

    Awesome! Please make this Garment Doctor Series a worthy replacement of the famous What a Tailor Can and Can’t Do from the old blog in 2010. The world needs to know to be able to fight the Bad Fit Disease.

  • Gazman

    Excellent series. One thing I’d like insight on is sleeve pitch on a jacket. The other is sleeve and jacket length. I recently read on a couple of tailoring blogs that a shirt sleeve should come down to just above the webbing on your hand when the buttons are undone. The point being that with this extra length, the sleeve will always show below the jacket sleeve in every posture. My query is: do you agree and if so wouldn’t this mean you have excess fabric bunching around your wrist?

  • Alan

    Really great idea for a series.

    It would be interesting to find out to what extent yoga, physiotherapy and the like could help in making the shoulders more even and how quickly. It’s not going to fix everything, but if it’s more of a posture problem then you might be better off treating that rather than getting your suits tailored to cover it.

    Thanks again.

    • Adam E

      I think this series is an awesome idea, since it’s nice to know the origin of these issues from the structure side of things.
      As for the symmetry issue from a postural perspective (as someone with background in this area), there are for sure things you can do to improve posture. There are several causes for postural side slump both structural (i.e. scoliosis) and mechanical (typically muscular in origin). The structural stuff is much harder to correct through training, however the stuff that’s mechanical is usually fixable. Alot of side slump can come from weakness in the core, so simple core strengthening (with a neutral spine position, think plank like exercises not crunch type) and proper mobility routine (stretching anything around the pelvis, quads, hams, glutes, hip flexors, low back, etc.). If it’s a forward rounding of shoulders (really common for people who spend their days in front of the computer), things like pull-aparts (with elastic tubing) without shrugging, Bent over rows, or a seated close grip row (again without shrugging). Other issues depends a bit on the origin, but can usually be worked on if you get in touch with a physio or exercise professional (preferably someone with more than just a weekend personal training course…). Where I would suspect someone would be in greater need of extra padding in the shoulder would be someone like a baseball pitcher, who would have much more musculature in their throwing arm, or who’s work or activity is primarily one sided.

  • Joe

    Garment Doctor – Good idea.

  • Brady

    This is a great idea for a series. Trying to figure these things out on your own can often get confusing. Reading in depth explanations on fit, how to fix it, and whether or not a tailor can even make the alterations gives a much more rounded understanding on mens clothing.. not just style. Looking forward to future posts in the series!

  • Eugene

    This is lovely. Great read and informative, thanks for sharing!

  • Alexander

    Excellent post, this is knowledge most people would not know. Sidenote Dan, you said you played basketball huh? I would love to get the opportunity to put your skills to the test…of course when it is warm though.

    • Dan Trepanier

      One on one. $100/bucket. You with it?

      • Alexander

        Hahaha $100/bucket?! Come on man. How about one on one, first to 10 wins(winner gets 100)

        • Dan Trepanier

          That’s pretty soft coming from a guy with the email address highroller07 hahaha

          We’ll be hooping in Thompkins Park this summer for sure.

    • Marcus Forlan

      Haha. $100 per bucket? I think Dan is getting a bit tired of people not taking his skillz seriously.

      Alan – you do know he was recruited to play for Colombia right?

      Check this out – Sorry, Wes :-).

      • Westley Dimagiba

        uhhh yeah that wasn’t me… obviously, I have short hair. ;]

  • Adam

    This. We want more of it.

  • cam

    dan, this is why you are simply the best out there. most ppl would not be willing to mass share this information that they’ve spent time and money on. kudos to u sir!

    • Dan Trepanier

      Thanks cam. We’re passionate about helping our readers understand more about clothing and style.

      We have plenty more entries in the “Garment Doctor” series coming.


  • Z Foundation

    This is exactly what has been missing in the menswear blogging sphere.

  • Herbert Morrison

    This is invaluable information, and I am very impressed with this new segment. Great reading and especially beneficial to me in my line of work. Like Dr. Pimp says to his hoes, “Keep em’ comin'”.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Haha. Plenty more to come.

  • Eric

    Great idea for a series. I especially like the idea of discussing the difficulty/cost of the various remedies for a particular fit issue.

    BTW, I too see “from www. TheStyleBlogger .com by Alex Crawford”, though this is in Google Reader only.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Thx. Should be fixed now.

  • John

    I like the new feature. My shoulders aren’t really asymmetrical, but you made me check! Looking forward to the next posts!

    I’d also love to see a post about the proper fit of a shirt. Sometimes I feel that even slim-fitting ones are way to baggy in the back.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Thx John. We’ll be running this series for all types of garments, including shirts.


  • Bob

    just a quick note, article reads like it’s written by Alex, but the sign-off is by Dan:

    >>Garment Doctor Series: Jacket Side Crunching
    from TSBmen by Alex Crawford

    >>Yours in style,
    Dan Trepanier

    • Dan Trepanier

      Huh? Where do you see “>>Garment Doctor Series: Jacket Side Crunching from TSBmen by Alex Crawford”?

      • David

        Google Reader… I assume other RSS readers, too.

      • Bob

        It’s shown in the RSS feed as being authored by Alex. LMK and I can upload/email an image if it’s helpful.


        • Dan Trepanier

          Hmm. Thanks for the heads up. We don’t proof the reader outputs. I’ll take a look into this…