Devilish Details

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A bespoke jacket or suit will fit you better than an off the peg suit. Period. Crucial details can nonetheless designate those garments that are truly a cut above rest. The jacket is probably the quintessential piece of menswear, for its practicality as much for its flexibility; jackets of various styles have been worn continuously by men since the sixteenth century and the three-piece suit has been in existence for at least 200 years, thanks to a clothing reform of the Merry Monarch Charles II. Creating a truly faultless bespoke jacket is not easy, however, and there are certain details that even the most revered of male style icons have overlooked.

The sit of the jacket across the shoulders is probably the most difficult to get right because it is so conspicuous and has a crucial role in defining the silhouette. A common problem if the sit is not quite right is the collar gap. In a bespoke jacket (ideally, in all jackets), the collar should fit snugly against the back of the shirt, unless, of course, you are performing stunts à la James Bond. Take heart, though, because even Fred Astaire, one of the most iconic dressers of the 1930s, was let down on occasion, as the following photograph shows; his collar gap is considerable.

Jacket buttons can also pose problems. When fastened, the cloth of a bespoke jacket should not be crumpled. If the jacket is too tight, or if the buttons are positioned incorrectly, an unsightly cross will appear, as Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant demonstrates below. Grant's jacket also highlights the third area where eagle-eyed sartorialists will look for the signs of the tailor's skill, the cuffs. Ideally, the jacket sleeve should be cut so that 1/4 inch of shirt is showing at the cuff. A slither of shirt is discernible on Grant's right cuff, but none is showing on his left, which is far less flattering and makes the jacket seem over-sized.

So, even within the world of bespoke there are three devilish details that set apart the very best tailors and dressers. Take the effort to get these details right and you could teach Fred Astaire and Patrick Grant a thing or two.


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