Garment Doctor: Collar Gap

February 25th, 2013

Continuing with our “Garment Doctor” series.

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


Common issue: Jacket collar gap.

This particular fit issue is a personal pet peeve of mine. A collar sitting off the neck can make even the most beautiful suit look sloppy.


The Cause

A collar gap can be caused by a number of factors (hence the * on the image above). Most commonly, the jacket collar is too large for the circumference of the neck, although this can also be caused by square shoulders, head-forward posture, arms-back stance, a short neck, a large front chest, or any combination of these body characteristics.

As I mentioned before, everybody is unique and every body has it’s own set of variables. 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, gravity, and the intricacies of the human body.

The Fix

A bespoke suit should be cut for your neck size, posture, stance, shoulder slope, etc. so you shouldn’t have this problem.

Off-the-rack, my advice is to avoid this issue at all costs. Don’t assume your tailor can fix it – this is a very difficult issue to fix on an already-made jacket. A tailor can remove and recut the collar, but this is major surgery and most of the time it’s not 100% effective.

My advice is to try-on as many brands as possible before purchasing an off-the-rack suit. For example, even though they can be similar in price, a suit from Brooks Brothers does not fit the same as a suit from JCrew, and neither fit the same as a suit from Suit Supply. Even within these brands, there are different “cuts” – find the one that is best suited for your individual body.

Most importantly, when shopping for an off-the-rack suit, ensure these key areas fit properly:

1. The collar and upper back sit properly on the neck.
2. The shoulders are fitted but not tight or restrictive.
3. The chest has full coverage and the lapels are laying flat.
4. The body length is correct, hitting just below the cup of the seat.
5. The sleeve length is close (especially if it has working buttonholes).

For the most part, the rest can be adjusted by a good tailor.

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


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  • Jason Wong

    Is a jacket supposed to have a collar gap or lapel pop when you move? I’ve tried on suits before where standing and stationary, It looks like first picture (no gap or pop). However, when I walked toward the mirror, there was lots of lapel pop. In some suits, when exhale, there would be significant lapel pop.

    Is it a problem if there is lapel pop or a collar gap when move my arms?

    Note: this is all with the suit buttoned.

  • Gazman

    What does his mean – 5. The sleeve length is close (especially if it has working buttonholes). What do you mean by ‘close’?

    Looking at your photo, it appears your jacket sleeve is cut quite short thus showing at least an inch of shirt cuff (probably more). I prefer to show about half an inch but I constantly have to argue with my tailor who refuses to shorten the sleeves to this extent.

    About the collar gap, I was watching the Oscars last night and Michael Douglas had a massive collar gap in his tux.

    • Dan Trepanier

      Sorry for not clarifying earlier. By “close” I meant near to your preference. For example, you like to show a half inch of cuff, so the jacket sleeves should be near this length. Point being, you want to avoid major alts. There are limits to the amount a sleeve can be lengthened or shortened (especially if it’s cut with working button holes).

      Personally, yes, I show more like 3/4″-1″ of shirt cuff. Sleeve length is a personal preference, like pant length.

      Hope this is more clear.


  • Sosa

    I have the issues sometimes on my RTW jackets..I only go through this on my expensive purchased suits or jackets.. I just have my tailor re-cut the collar making it shorter (that’s if it is a really small collar gap being you can only take the collar in so much).. I also shift the shoulders as well. This is when you have the jacket on you always feel like its fighting to stay off your shoulder do your forward curved shoulders.. on MTM or bespoke a tailor can account for that.. on RTW its not because its a basic pattern that is supposed to fit my tailor takes out the collar and the sleeves..he then shifts the front shoulder seam and sews it in place with the collar being attached.. the sleeve is also attached but he may have to rehang the sleeve to follow the pitch of my shoulders.. every time I do this on a RTW jacket, the shoulders feel more natural and the collar gap is gone and the lapels fall better…however the key is getting the best fit off of a RTW jacket or as close as possible. Just my two cents..

    • Dan Trepanier

      Thanks for sharing Sosa. Good feedback from experience. Sounds like you have a competent tailor!

  • Alan

    With regards to sleeve length, I do have short arms (a Scottish thing ;-)) but I can’t but suspect that they tend to be cut on the long side anyway (it’s pretty rare to see people with sleeves that are too short).

    On the other hand, I actually just bought a 42 L jacket because I quite fancied having a slightly longer jacket (charcoal flannel 3 piece). So I face a trip to the tailor for quite a big chunk off the sleeve. Would you suggest having the sleeve tapered to compensate?

    • Dan Trepanier

      Hey Alan. If it looks wide at the cuff when the tailor pins it, you could suggest a slight taper. He may also have to take some from the top, if you’re going much shorter.


  • Brady P

    I recently acquired a jacket that has a similar issue.. Collar fabric bunching on the back of the neck/between the top of the shoulders, but seems like its from the neck being too small (which I was under the impression that it needed a neck roll adjustment). It also does not sit properly on the chest and has the “lapel pop” you pointed out in the above image. The jacket also seems tight around the jugular area of my neck. My question is whether the neck roll fix will also take care of the lapel pop, or is that going to be a separate issue? My tailor has assured me the neck roll will be no problem, but we have not discussed the lapel “pop.”

    • Dan Trepanier

      Hey Brady. A collar roll (a “wave” or “horizontal bump” of fabric below the collar, between the shoulder blades) is another issue. This is most often caused by square shoulders and/or prominent shoulder blades. We will be addressing the collar roll in this Garment Doctor series.

      A lapel pop is a separate issue, which can be caused by many different things. We’ll be addressing that later as well.


      • Brady

        Thanks Dan, appreciate the quick response (as always) and will be staying tuned for the upcoming garment doctor posts. This was a great idea for a daily series and have been very informative so far, keep it up!!