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Tailoring is a true craft and, as such, comes with a good deal of lingo that may not be familiar for the regular Australian gent. Indeed, you’d be forgiven for being a little overwhelmed by the constant references to drape, breaks and drop. Here at Oscar Hunt though, we pride ourselves on demystifying (and democratising) the tailoring experience. This being the case, we’ve put together the below glossary that will have you speaking like a master tailor in no time. Our fitters are also more than happy to decode any other terms that might crop up during the fitting process.
For the most part, suits off the rack will sit unevenly on the wearer’s torso - the front appearing longer than the back when viewed side on. Achieving balance is when these measurements sit evenly and is often only achieved through made-to-measure or bespoke tailoring.
A type of textile weave, a basketweave fabric is when warp and weft threads form a criss-crossing pattern. It’s marked by its fine texture and is commonly used in suiting.
A weave created from a combination of light and dark threads (i.e. white and navy), birdseye fabric appears as if a block colour from a distance but, from a closer perspective, it has a great sense of depth and texture.
A break refers to the crease at the front of your trousers just above your shoes. More traditional tailoring usually has a single break though cropped styles with no breaks are becoming increasingly popular.
You may have heard the term ‘full canvas’ or ‘half canvas’ when shopping for a suit. This term refers to the canvas that sits between the suit cloth and the lining and indicates how structured the jacket is and how it falls around the body.
For the most part, suit jackets today adopt a half canvas as this gives structure around the shoulders whilst still allowing for movement through the waist. Full canvas suits are generally more costly as they require a great deal of hand craftsmanship given the canvas covers the whole jacket.
Jackets with no canvas are often marked by their exposed seams on the inside and tend to have a more casual, Summery feel to them.
A popular pattern in men’s suiting, the chalk stripe is designed to look as if drawn with tailor’s chalk (hence the name). Often appearing as slightly fuzzy, this is a close cousin of the pinstripe.
Trousers can either be hemmed with a straight edge or with a cuff. This is when the hem is flipped to the outside of the trousers, creating a small lip. Cuffs are a style statement and the size of them is based on personal preference.
Today, the cutaway is perhaps the most popular collar type as it can be comfortably worn either with a tie or open necked. This style of collar angles away from the top button and contrasts with more classic styles that point straight down.
Drape refers to the way fabric falls around the body. For the most part, this is based not only on the fabric itself but also the internal construction of the jacket. Fabrics reveal their quality through the suppleness of the drape. Poor-quality cloth appears stiff whereas supreme fabrics are fluid around the body, like a second skin.
Simply put, drop refers to the difference in the measurement between your chest and waist. As a rule, the higher the drop on the jacket, the slimmer the fit.
Finishings are often discussed in your first fitting and refer to the final touches that make your suit truly unique. This includes buttons, picking stitching, monogramming etc.
A soft, warm fabric marked by its melange colour, flannel is popular for winter suiting.
The most common pocket style today, flap pockets are marked by a flap of fabric covering the opening. The pocket itself is internal.
Otherwise known as “Glen Plaid”, Glen Check is a weave of fabric composed of small and large checks. Most commonly found in black, white and other muted colours, this style of fabric comes from Scotland and is linked with the tartan family.
A gusset is a small triangular shaped piece of fabric inserted at the seam to allow for greater movement, enlargement or strengthening purposes. In men’s suiting it is often found in the crotch.
The Herringbone weave of fabric is defined by its distinctive V-shaped pattern and is most often found in twill fabric.
A popular pattern in more casual men’s suiting, houndstooth is a check with notched corners. The pattern looks like a dog’s tooth, hence the name.
This is the layer of fabric that sits in between the outer fabric of your suit jacket and the lining. It is sewn to the suit fabric and gives it a sense of depth as well as moulding to your body to ensure the best possible fit.
The most formal pocket style, jetted pockets are marked by their slit-like opening. The pocket itself is internal.
These are the folded flaps of fabric at the front opening of the jacket. They are created by the fabric being folded back over itself and attached to the collar - a third piece of fabric that stretches across the back of the neck.
Jackets today come in a range of different linings. Most corporate suit jackets are fully lined, with the lining fabric extending throughout the sleeves and body. In contrast, more casual tailoring is generally semi-lined (lining fabric around the upper body) or unlined (no lining at all).
Whilst commonly thought of as more formal than that standard suit, a lounge suit is really just another word for a two-piece. When referred to as a dress code, it generally means a suit worn with shirt and tie.
Lustre refers to the sheen of your suit cloth.
A non-shiny fabric texture.
Marked by a slight sheen, mohair fabric comes from Angora goats and is famous for its durability and polished look. Warm in Winter and cool in Summer, the fabric has wicking qualities which ensure comfort throughout the year.
Popular in classic business suiting, a notch lapel is marked by a small triangular indent between the lapel and collar of the jacket.
An open weave occurs when cloth is woven so there are small holes between the fibres. This results in a lighter, more sheer finish.
In suiting, padding is used to create a clean line around the shoulders. The amount of padding used depends on the style of jacket you opt for with more traditional styles generally having more padding and more relaxed styles having less.
Perhaps the most casual pocket style, patch pockets are exactly as they sound; open, flat pockets that are sewn to the outside of the garment.
More flamboyant (and generally more formal) than notch lapels, peak lapels extend beyond the collar of the jacket in an upward diagonal direction.
A popular suiting pattern where a contrasting coloured thread is run through the cloth at regular parallel intervals, ultimately creating the effect of a narrow stripe.
The most basic fabric weave, ‘plain weave’ is formed using a standard criss-cross of threads and is known for its durability.
Pleats are sometimes added to the front of trousers, immediately below the waistband for style, ease of movement or even to conceal weight around the lower part of the torso. While less common today than in the past, a moderate pleat is a timeless look and can be worn by anyone.
Referring to your stance (i.e. whether you’re slumped, standing tall or overly erect), posture plays a large role in determining how a suit will fit and should be taken into consideration when you’re being fitted for a suit.
A checked pattern that comes from the criss-crossing of two dark and two light stripes alternating with four dark and four light stripes. Similar to Glen Check, this pattern was adapted from the original by the Prince of Wales in the 19th century.
Proportions refer to the way that certain suiting elements relate to the body. For example, the proportion of lapels on a suit jacket can make the wearer appear broader or narrower depending on their width. In the same respect, the proportion of the jacket length to trousers can make the wearer appear taller when fitted correctly.
A saddle is an additional layer of fabric that can be added to trousers to minimise the wear and tear that may come from friction between the legs.
A striped cotton fabric that has been puckered resulting in a slightly crumpled look. This fabric is often worn in the warmer months.
A fabric where the stripe is woven into the fabric rather than being added to the fabric afterwards.
Most commonly found on dinner jackets, a shawl lapel is marked by its continuous curve shape, creating a classic and highly polished look.
The measurement from the lapel to the top of the arm hole, shoulder height dictates the fit of the jacket. Too close fitting and the jacket will gape and appear small, too loose and the jacket can appear boxy.
These can replace belt loops and appear as two tabs on either side of the waistband. They can be adjusted to slightly alter the fit of the waist. It should be noted that in Made-To-Measure, your trousers should be tailored to fit you and the side adjusters are more of a style statement than anything else.
The angle at which the sleeve is inserted into the armhole, sleeve pitch should be optimised based on your shape and posture so that the sleeve fabric sits flat against your arm rather than pooling or bunching at the back or front.
Used to describe threads that are thicker in some parts and thinner in others resulting in a slightly bumpy fabric texture.
Structure refers to the overall construction of the jacket and how it sits against your torso. This is the result of the canvas, lining and outer fabric.
You’ll often hear reference made to a Super 110 or a Super 120 - this is a measure of how fine suiting cloth is. Lower counts are generally coarser and more hard wearing while higher counts are finer and generally more fragile.
A coarse woollen fabric, Tweed typically has a flecked appearance and is popular in sports coats.
A type of fabric weave, marked by its diagonal parallel line texture.
Vents are the slits at the rear of the jacket and usually appear as either one in the centre or two to the sides. They allow for greater ease of movement.
The strip of fabric that forms the waist of the trousers.
The way fibres are assembled to create a piece of cloth. Different weaves result in varying textures and weights of fabric.
A popular pattern in men’s suiting, a windowpane check is marked by its large square design. Bolder than other cloth patterns, a windowpane is popular for events like the races or more flamboyant suiting occasions.
A reinforced section of a jacket extending across the back between the shoulders. The yoke of the jackets strengthens and adds durability to the jacket.