A Guide to Alterations: 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.
Yours in style,