The importance of fit
A well-fitted jacket is the most flattering thing a man can own.
It occurred to me recently - in conversation with a long-term reader - that we don’t talk about the importance of fit anymore. Yet it used to be all we talked about.
Fit, I always said and still maintain, is the most important thing in any garment. The subtleties of fit can be a matter of style and fashion, but it should remain the first thing you consider.
And a tailored jacket has the greatest fit potential.
After all, what other garment can a man wear that is so built up, shaped, structured - almost carved around the body - to create whatever image he desires.
If you invented such a piece today, it would be derided for being fussy, even effeminate. All that work, stitching and shaping, all that preening and posing in front of a mirror.
So to all those that don’t wear a suit anymore - that don’t grab every opportunity to wear a piece of tailoring - I say: beware.
Once you’ve lost this ally in elegance, it won’t come again.
The warning is particularly pertinent, I feel, in an age of increasingly unstructured tailoring.
Removing structure can be great, particularly for more casual jackets and for warm climates.
But even the lightest Neapolitan jackets I own, in the lightest of cloths, have a hand-stitched canvas that shapes the chest.
Their personal, hand-cut pattern drapes that cloth around me, accentuating the upper arm, suppressing the waist, making me so much more than I am in a simple T-shirt.
Women’s tailoring went down this path long before men’s.
Women’s overcoats today are little more than cloth wrapped around the body. They are often fastened with a belt too, and for good reason: it gives the impression of shape where there isn’t any.
If you had buttons you would have to think more about fit. As it is you can just pretend this sloppiness is part of the look.
I was in H&M on Friday (don’t ask) and saw the saddest thing sitting on a rail.
Despite being advertised as a coat, it was barely longer than a jacket. It had no lining, no structure, and was made in the feeblest, thinnest wool/nylon mix. It was grey with a Prince of Wales check, which is probably why it caught my eye.
That coat was just cloth, and pretty pathetic cloth. It would have flattered nobody, and must have been the cheapest thing in the world to make.
The next time you see a bespoke fitting (there are thousands scattered around Instagram; everyone is a publisher today) take a moment to consider the beauty that is the tailored jacket.
Consider the effect of adding a half inch to the width of each shoulder. Look at the swell of the chest. Run your eyes down the sweep of a lapel, through the waist button, and into the flick of the hips.
Think about the importance, the elegance, the strength of fit. And then put on your favourite, well-fitting jacket and go out into the world.
Images, by Jamie Ferguson, taken from our forthcoming style guide
Conversations like the one mentioned at the beginning of this post are invaluable to me and to Permanent Style.
It is easy to assume that everyone has read every post; that they are aware of all the advice, the principles, the railing against the commercialisation of social media and writing in general.
Yet thousands of new readers join the site every month, and begin reading regularly.
To those newbies: please ask questions, and search the backlog of 1,660 posts for answers.
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