Crafting the perfect shoulder (with Head Tailor Oscar Lake)
In modern times the shoulder of a jacket is constructed in a soft and light way to aid in movement and comfort. Along the shoulder of a jacket from the armpit upwards, there are multiple layers of canvas with their grain lines pointing in opposite directions. There will be a light-weight canvas running the length of the chest to the waist and into the lapel, a slightly stiffer canvas from the shoulder to the bottom of the ribs that finishes at the break line of the lapel and a much more rigid canvas from the shoulder seam to middle of the pectoral muscle. This last area that covers the collarbone is the most uneven area of the torso. The combination of the muscles surrounding the top of the upper arm, the protruding nature of the clavicle (collar bone) and the trapezius muscle above the shoulder blade create unevenness in every man. The 3 opposing grain lines of the canvas in the chest of a jacket is designed to create a soft and smooth piece that slightly dips into the concave areas of the body without collapsing and destroying the symmetry of the jacket. If one of these areas of the shoulder is more pronounced than the others it can create slight issues which more often than not can be addressed by shaping or adjusting the shoulder seam.
The hollow at the back of the upper arm, between the deltoid and the trapezius muscle is the reason mens suits have a shoulder pad. If a jacket is cut with no canvas or padding in the shoulder the natural hollows of the body will be much more visible and the jacket as a whole will lose the appeal of symmetry which is the purpose of structure in a jacket.
Humans naturally find symmetry appealing, symmetry in a face, in nature or in the body. The canvas in the front of the jacket is designed to create volume and symmetry to portray a stronger and more balanced look.
The trick to creating the perfect shoulder isn’t the fabric or style of sleeve but the ingredients in the structure that supports it. Without a malleable and complexly shaped canvas negotiating the many different uneven terrains on one’s body, the shoulder would begin to distract from the overall form and look unsightly.