Modern suit styles: Constructed vs unstructured suit shoulders

03 August 2017

"You must decide on the look you’re hoping to achieve as this will govern its construction"

Ordering a made-to-measure suit is a time for decision. Modern suit styles are fluid, meaning different types of suits accommodate their purpose and the tastes of the gentleman who owns them. Details vary from suit to suit. A gentleman's tailor-made suit is transformative, redefining its wearer and concealing sins and poor posture. Its construction is a feat of engineering: small adjustments enhance the form and make the wearer appear invincible. And this sartorial sorcery starts at the shoulder.

There are two types of suit shoulders: constructed and unstructured. Constructed shoulders give the wearer shape through a combination of canvas and tailoring expertise. A suit with slim shoulder pads gives a sharp drape and effectively redefines the shoulder's appearance. Tailoring a suit's shoulders can offset a gentleman's sloped frame and can accentuate his physique. A constructed shoulder can correct visually poor posture to ensure a sharp fit and create an overall strong silhouette for which tailoring is known. This style is rooted in tradition and takes its lead from the Savile Row style we have come to accept as tailored perfection. This look is more formal and has a more deliberate look, which is favoured by gentlemen the world over.

On the other hand, an unstructured suit jacket takes a different approach. The key difference is the shoulder: foregoing the shoulder pad and often the inner canvassing it has a lightweight, more casual look. Think stepping off a yacht in Positano; the ultimate of Italian Riviera feel. This style serves its own purpose and allows freedom of movement and opportunity to wear tailoring without restriction. As a design silhouette it can convey many messages: an appreciation of tailoring, a relaxed attitude, and an understanding of modern suiting trends. An unstructured shoulder cannot account for posture or balance, and thus it is more true to the wearer’s form. That said, a good cut will cinch a gentleman where it matters and give a strong profile regardless of the shoulder construction.

When choosing your jacket, your tailor will advise on how a suit shoulder should fit. You must decide on the look you’re hoping to achieve as this will govern its construction. Altering a suit jacket’s shoulders after the fact is a costly and in some cases an impossible exercise, so you'll want to get it right. Whichever direction you land, trust in the knowledge of Oscar Hunt's made-to-measure team.

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