I discovered an interesting aspect of figuration today, while being measured for a new suit. (Figuration being the process where a tailor adapts a suit to your particular bodily quirks – the steps beyond just making sure the shoulders are the right width.)

The tailor pointed out that I have a slight stoop forward, slightly prominent shoulder blades, a hollowed lower back (partly due to being slim) and a large seat. If you can imagine that effect down the line of my back, it produces a S-shape – exaggerated curves caused by the shoulder blades and bum, with a hollow in between.

Most other suits I have follow the line of my back, meaning that the rear of the skirt kicks out a little over my bum. To correct this and mitigate the S-shape, a little more fullness will be added in the small of my back with this suit. But a little will be taken out of the front too, so that the waist size remains the same. Effectively, the lower half of the jacket will be swung backwards a touch.

On my previous suit I had also noticed that the collar stood away slightly from the back of my neck. A fairly obvious fault. But it was also pointed out this time that, when I looked at the suit from the front, this standing away was most prominent on the right of my neck.

This, it seems, was because I leant ever-so-slightly to the right, as well as a little forward. That was noticeable both at the neck but also below my right arm, where the cloth collapses a little between the waist and scye. Rebalancing the suit a little, so it is slightly lower on that right side, should correct this.

Both of these are aspects of fit that I have never noticed before, but of course now will not be able to ignore. Like the day after I had my first bespoke shirt fitted, and realised all my shirts had a slightly short left arm.

These are the pleasures of bespoke, such as they are. Every time you improve one facet of fit, you discover another that is wrong.

I admire tailors and shirtmakers for being able to spot these little things. But I do wish they’d stagger pointing them out to me.

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Savile Joe

Ha ah, I always think the same thing when I’m in the tailors! There harshly honest…but you know its true!
Whereabouts were you having your suit done Simon?
I was recently in Milan and had my first ever proper shoe fitting which was incredibly interesting.
take care,
Savile Joe


An interesting article, on an excellent blog.


Surely improving your posture would remove the need for this kind of tailoring. It would also improve image and be of other assorted benefits.

Arctic Penguin

Sometimes I wonder if fashion (in the widest sense of the word) advertising would be impossible without being able to freeze that one perfect moment forever on film where all the lines of an outfit follow the body and one another perfectly. I am finding many of these tiny faults in photos of well-dressed real people (as in, not models, and certainly not models as part of an advertising spread)whose clothes, bespoke though they may be, simply act as clothes might be expected to: rumpling here, pulling away there, standing back on the neck when posturing thusly, and basically defeating, through the simple motions of real life as opposed to posed life, the image of the ‘perfect’ fit. I suppose when it comes down to it, the real measure is the feeling of the suit, not how it appears? (Though clearly we don’t discount appearance, or we wouldn’t be following these articles with such attention.)

I’ve really enjoyed the guest posts lately as well. I wish I could syndicate your column in some of the expat magazines around here. Thanks for the insights.

Laurence John

Simon, with the adjustments you mention to the back of the suit… do you want the jacket to fall straight over the hollow of your lower back or hug that inward curve more ?


Interesting note about figuration, SImon.

I think it is often overlooked, and I suspect it’s something that most of the e-tailoring business models will fail to address, since they rely either solely on self-taken measurements, or on measurements being taken by sales people, who are in all likelihood not as competent as tailors who know how to note figuration details as well. Maybe someone should point this out to them!

Savile Joe

That was an anonymous that posted that Simon, not myself.
I know the problems of slight leaning as was told to me by my tailor and chiropractor in the same week! Maybe they could get together to make my my perfect blazer!
Savile Joe

Russel Pryor

The truly adverse issue is that this caliber of tailor is difficult to find. I am wondering if there is a “network” of some sort where one might be able to find a proper tailor in their area. Then again, I suppose it is not like finding a dentist.