Excellent suit construction: Part 1 - Jackets

20 May 2016

Excellent suit construction: Part 1 - Jackets

Tailoring is about crafting a garment from the body’s exact measurements, each detail considered in its foundation. Some have likened a suit’s construction to a feat of engineering. And while it might seem like a stretch to those who’ve spent six years completing the relevant tertiary degree, you must admit there’s an element of truth to it. When you look at the level of construction that goes into a suit jacket, you develop a finer appreciation of the craft. Tailors spend years learning their skill and decades perfecting it. As with engineering, a millimetre can make all the difference, and it’s these fine details that set made-to-measure suits apart from the rest. Perhaps not such a stretch after all.

While the choice of fabric is key to the exterior of a quality blazer, so the canvas is to its interior. Our jackets are constructed with a floating canvas through the shoulder and chest. Traditionally made from horsehair, these days a cotton canvas is sewn into the lapel and the armhole. It gives the jacket form and structure while form fitting the body, and over time will gain the hallmarks of the wearer. A good suit jacket always has a floating canvas, whereas some of the lower-priced off-the-rack models will have one that is fused to the suit fabric. While this will lower the cost of production, the quality is compromised—meaning stiffer suits with less movement through the fabric and the potential for the interfacing to bubble with repeated dry cleaning.

The canvas interior also lends itself to more precise tailoring through the jacket’s shoulder and chest. A well-made shoulder always sits flush with the top of the arm and rolls gently into the sleeve. It’s subtle, but this detail comes in the pattern-making stage of the construction. Another indicator of a great jacket is how it sits on the chest. A jacket that moulds to the body and shows the form’s outline is ideal; this cut is achieved through shaping it under the arm and into the side seams of the overall design.

Choosing the right suit jacket is simpler than you can imagine, although the science behind it is entirely sophisticated. Speak to your tailor at your next fitting and ask them to convey the finer points of tailoring a jacket so you too might become an expert in looking good.