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Garment Doctor: Collar Roll

Garment Doctor: Collar Roll

“It doesn’t fit me right” is the main reason people throw out their clothes and buy new ones.

This is not only frustrating, it’s also a waste of time and money, and it’s bad for the environment. 

I get it, nobody wants to wear a garment that doesn’t look right, is uncomfortable, or makes them feel self conscious. The thing is, a lot of “fit problems” can be fixed by your local tailor, for a relatively small expense.

So we put together the “Garment Doctor” series to highlight specific fit issues, why they happen and how to fix them, with the goal of saving you time and money and helping you live a more sustainable lifestyle.

In this edition, we’re taking a look at the infamous “Collar Roll”.

Ever wonder what causes that curl below the collar on your suit jackets/blazers? It’s called a collar roll and it’s directly related to your shoulder slope (or lack thereof).

If this is happening to you, you probably have square shoulders (the opposite of sloping) and are wearing jackets that are cut for sloped shoulders (the average off-the-rack jacket is cut for men with average slopes). I have slightly square shoulders myself (left slightly more square than right) and often have a collar roll issue with off-the-rack jackets. It’s one of the reasons I originally started getting bespoke suits (of course, I also wanted to customize all the details…and I had basketball thighs that were blowing out the Dior & RL Black Label suit pants that I was scoring on eBay at the time).

Some people think the collar roll is caused by tightness through the shoulders/blades, which can cause “rippling” across the upper back (as well as divots at the top of the sleeves under the shoulder pads). While this can certainly make the issue worse, the foundation of the problem comes down to incongruous shoulder slopes. Rarely, a collar roll can also be caused, or accentuated, by a short neck (when the back strap on the jacket is a little too long, causing some extra fabric to “pool” under the collar which is being pushed down).

The only thing I’m doing in the picture(s) below is lifting (or “squaring”) my shoulders by probably a half inch. Notice the collar roll this creates on the jacket:

Can a tailor fix this?

Yes. If they're a good tailor who’s willing to remove the collar and recut the neckhole and front and back panels. As we’ve said many times throughout our posts on tailoring, any work involving the shoulders will be difficult and expensive. My advice is to try on as many jackets as possible to find a brand/cut that looks as clean as possible through the shoulders, collar and upper back. If your shoulders are very square, or very sloped, or very uneven, going custom might be worth the expense to finally have a jacket that is properly adjusted for your frame. Fit is the most important element of a jacket and it all starts with the shoulders.

The photo below shows how a jacket (and shirt collar) should fit. Notice the clean drape of the windowpane fabric, with no breaking or obvious wrinkling. Of course, this can only be achieved at a resting state. Once you start moving around all bets are off (with that said, there should be enough room for the jacket to fall back into place once you stop moving and return to a resting state – if it’s getting caught up on your body, it’s probably a little too slim).

Hope this helps answer some questions.

Thanks, as always, for reading. 

Yours in style,

Dan Trepanier