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Bespoke 101: Fittings > Measurements

Bespoke 101: Fittings > Measurements

"Measuring" a client for a garment, and "fitting" a client for a garment are two very different things.

Having exact body measurements means nothing, if you don't understand 1) how to balance a garment on a body and 2) how the client likes to wear his clothes. 

Firstly, there are a number of things you simply cannot "measure". Shoulder slopes, postures, neck placement, shoulder pitch, arm rotation, etc. Putting a "try-on garment" on a customer will immediately tell you much more than measurements ever could (especially if that try-on garment fits very well, and is already made for the clients general body type).

Secondly - and more importantly - it's impossible to measure personal preference. You can have two clients who have identical body measurements, but one may prefer a fuller cut with a higher rise and 16.5" leg opening, while the other prefers a super-slim rocker fit with short rise and 12" opening. Again, a try-on garment allows you to understand how a client feels in their clothing.

This is the basis on which we created the Articles of Style platform.

Now let's take a closer look at an AOS try-on fitting, using our friend and client Jelani as an example.

As a menswear designer, I’ve spent years studying the ideal (ie. best looking) ratios of a tailored garment, on all kinds of different body sizes and shapes.

Most guys are shocked at how much of a visual difference an adjustment like “lower the button stance 1/2″ but keep the tapered waist on the same plane” can make. It’s one of those things that only a trained tailor can see or describe, but everyone can notice and say “wow, that looks much better”. I’m not claiming to be the world’s leading expert on any of these topics, but I feel excited about bringing this level of tailoring service to the online menswear market, which, in my opinion, is confusing the methods and ideals of traditional tailoring.

A quality tailored suit requires at least one test fitting, in a garment that has been pre-cut to your “dimensions” (ie. measurements). In traditional bespoke tailoring this is called a “basted fitting” and is usually performed using a loosely stitched “first draft cut” in the actual fabric of your suit. In our case, we use a separate fabric (a deadstock worsted wool) to create a custom try-on garment specially based on your physical profile.

If you look at the image below, you can see an example of how we do each custom fitting for our clients. We created my friend Jelani’s custom try-on garment using the information he provided when he signed up for his AOS account. His try-on jacket (which is only a “shell” of a jacket, it has no canvassing, lining, pocketing, etc) is the “first draft cut” of his original pattern. In Jelani's case his try-on was based on our in-house “41 Regular Slim” pattern, but adjusted for Jelani’s height, waist size, neck size, stomach shape, arm length, and overall preferences. It arrived a few weeks after his first order, and it fit him like a decent custom suit. He actually told me “if my finished garments fit like this, I’ll be happy” - but his pattern still needed lots of adjustment in order to be a great garment by AOS standards.

This is where the "magic" begins.

Taking photos in the custom try-on garment (and providing written feedback) allows our team of experienced tailors to review the actual shape and proportions of your body.

We analyzed piece-by-piece how the try-on garment fit Jelani (and, importantly, how he feels in it) - then we begun applying very specific adjustments to his original pattern, which we call our “bespoke adjustments”. 

In Jelani’s case, we sloped the left shoulder 1.25″ and the right 1.75″, raised the back collar a 1/2″, opened up the shoulder and half-back 1/2″, shortened the back strap and let-out the hips (“prominent seat adjustment”), took in the biceps 3/4″, raised the armholes by the same amount, lowered the button stance 3/4″ , lengthened both sleeves 3/8″,  and corrected for his slightly head-forward posture (this is actually a very complex adjustment from a pattern-making perspective, which touches all parts of the jacket).

Even though most of these adjustments might seem small since they are fractions of inches, the correct combination of them can make an enormous difference in the look and feel of the finished garment. Correcting the alignment of the garment also makes it more comfortable by giving it a greater range of motion, and lengthens the lifespan of the cloth by removing any stress caused by ill-fitting areas.

This is the finished product on Jelani (our Rust Hopsack fabric):

Now Jelani can introduce this garment into his wardrobe and combine it to create many different outfit combinations (the ultimate goal of AOS).

For example:



So to recap today's lesson; "measuring" and "fitting" are not the same thing... and AOS is the only place to get a real fitting online (avoid the trap of self-measuring!).

Thanks, as always, for reading. 

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier