Your guide to understanding the tailor’s jargon.
The world of a gentleman’s tailor can seem complicated to some. It is a place where terms like “rise”, “break” and “darts” are thrown around without a second thought.
If you’re feeling a little left out, don’t worry: Suit Vaults Tailoring Terminology 101 is your personal guide to popular terms used by bespoke tailors.
And after reading this blog, why not make a fitting at Suit Vault, now that you know what we’re talking about? You’ll know exactly what to ask for!
Bespoke and Made-to-Measure
“Bespoke” and “made-to-measure” are two terms that are often used. They sound very similar, but they are two separate terminologies.
Made-to-measure garments are made by hand using a pre-existing pattern that is then adjusted to your specific measurements. Bespoke garments, on the other hand, are made without the use of a machine. The design and pattern are created from scratch to ensure a perfect fit on your body. You have more options for fabrics and design elements in a bespoke design than you do with a made-to-measure one.
Perhaps you have heard your tailor talk often about the “button stance.”
The vertical button stance, no matter how complex it sounds, is where the waist button of the coat is located.
Usually, buttons are placed at three different levels.
- Neutral: At the waistline
- To create a deeper V shape, lower the waistline.
- High: At the waistline to reduce the opening of the “V” on the jacket.
Many off-the-rack two-button suit jackets come with a neutral, or slightly higher, button stance. For a three-button suit, the stance will be higher.
Each button stance is unique and can enhance your assets as well as conceal any shape anomalies.
Double-breasted jackets are common when shopping for new suits. It may appear to be the same jacket as a normal suit jacket to the casual observer, but there are a few unique features that are double-breasted.
Double-breasted jackets are formal outerwear that have wide, overlapping flaps of fabric at the front and two columns of buttons. A typical double-breasted suit jacket has four buttons. Because single-breasted suits tend to be more common, double-breasted suits can give you a sophisticated look.
Lapels can be described as jacket collars with a fold-out front that meet shirt collars. They come in three styles.
- Notched: A triangular, indented indent in the lapel sits right at the chest and meets your shirt’s collar.
- Peaked: This style of lapel is larger and extends past the collarbone.
- Shawl: a more draped, looser version of the lapel that does not have a notch.
The silhouette refers to the jacket shape of the suit. The suit silhouette defines your style. There are three main types of silhouettes.
A sack or Brooks suit jacket is a formless jacket with narrow shoulders. The jacket hangs from the body, indicating its classic shape. It covers the wearer’s asymmetries beautifully.
Structured Silhouette: This is the most formal silhouette. It was inspired by military uniforms. The shoulder pads have been fitted with pads that are trimmed to the waist. It is the ideal silhouette for men with a classic V-shaped body.
Fitted Silhouette: Designed for men with a toned physique. It features a slim fit, minimal padding, and high armholes to highlight the wearer’s best attributes.
Canvas is a structural layer usually made from wool or horsehair and lies between the jacket’s outer fabric and lining. The canvas is not tightly stitched to the fabric and allows for free movement. The primary purpose of the canvas, however, is to support and shape the jacket.
There are three main types of canvas:
- Full Canvas: The canvas has been sewn from the front panel to the back panel.
- Fused Canvas: The inner structural layer of a suit’s fused fabric is usually affixed to it instead of being sewn.
- Half Canvas: The half canvas is sewn to the chest of the jacket. These suits are lightweight, which makes them great for spring and summer.
A besom or jetted pocket is a common pocket style for men’s suits. The jacket has a narrow horizontal opening on the outside that allows for a lined pocket to be inserted between the outer and lining materials. It also has a thin strip of fabric between the top of the slit and the bottom. The jetted pocket is the most formal and appropriate for a dinner jacket.
A “pant break” can be described as the fold of fabric at the front of your legs and just above your shoes when you stand. Let’s make it simple: A pant break occurs when the hem of a trouser reaches its silhouette.
There are two types:
- No pants break
- Full pants break
The no-break look is perfect for slimmer men or people who are taller than average. A no-break means that the hem sits right above the shoes.
Full breaks mean that the hem is in direct contact with the shoes. It creates an elegant ripple that appears just above the hem. This style is great for older men and for those who love the classic look.
Sometimes called “waterfall buttons,” These buttons are on sleeves and touch a little, they might even overlap. Although kissing buttons are mostly a design choice, they are usually a sign of good craftsmanship.
Vents can be described as the cuts on the backside of a suit jacket. Vents can have a significant impact on the way a suit is tailored.
There are two types of common vents.
- Canter Vent: The slit is visible in the middle of a jacket. This area is commonly used for casual suits.
- Side Vents: These can be found in jackets that have two slits. Side vents work well with formal suits.
Waist suppression can be described as the cinching or tightening of the jacket’s waist to show the perfect “V-shaped” body. Off-the-rack suits tend to be loosely fitted. The tailor can fix this by tightening the waist. It helps to conceal little imperfections and makes you more masculine by reducing your waist.
This refers to the suit’s shape. If a tailor tells you to lose five pounds, he will not be referring to your weight. This means that your waist measurement is five inches smaller than your chest. The drop is the difference in measurement between your jacket and your trouser size.
The Technical Terms
There is so much information out there, but there are some key terms you will need regardless of where you go in your tailoring journey. Let’s look at them.
A stitch that is done over another stitch. This is used to secure seams.
A stitch used to guide you in finishing the stitches temporarily
A finishing stitch that is done by hand. Hand sewing is required for most high-end fabrics.
A stitch that is sewn very closely to the edge of a fabric, if not directly on it. It strengthens and secures the edge or seam.
This hand stitch is used to combine two fabrics very delicately. It can be used to decorate or make a fashion statement.
This stitch tailors your clothes, but not completely permanently. These are stitches that can be added to a garment without affecting the fabric.
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