Tag Archives: education

A mini-rant of three points…

A mini-rant of three points.

Last week provided me with three scenarios that I needed to share and discuss with you.  I’ve called it a mini-rant but mostly this is about simply getting the details right.

1.  Fit before fun.

There was a sartorial epidemic in the financial district last week – younger guys in suits or dressed casual were seen everywhere wearing bright and colorful socks and pocket squares. Obviously that in itself is not a problem – in fact I applaud them for their efforts.  The issue however is that the fit of their suits and clothing in general was very poor – ranging from overly loose and baggy to too tight and restrictive.  In essence they were detail oriented and on-point with their accessories but completely missing the mark with the major building blocks of their outfits.


Walk before you run.

The first and most important aspect of dressing well is fit – it’s about getting the balance and proportions for your body type dead on.  This is what makes you look great – no matter how basic and simple the execution of the outfit is.  Once you’ve nailed this aspect you can start to add the fun in terms of the accessories.  Do it too early and all the socks and the pocket squares are doing is highlighting the fact that your suit doesn’t fit correctly.  Subtlety and details first – the fun and playfulness comes second.

2. Actually tie your shoes.

This is so obvious but it’s something I constantly see – both within my clients and guys I observe walking around town.  I’m talking about loosely tied shoes.  My theory is that a lot of guys are simply lazy and choose to leave them loosely tied to enable them to slip them off and on daily. This is horrible for the structure and longevity of the shoe itself but there is another unintended consequence – that being its effect on the break of the pant.


We all know that pants have become slimmer over the years.  When done properly this means a gentle taper to the bottom of the pant.  The majority of pants I cut these days have a bottom measurement of 14 to 15.5 inches.  When pants are on the thinner side and the shoes aren’t tied properly what occurs is a lot of catching.  The pant gets hooked on the back, sides or front of the shoe and the line of the pant is ruined.  So it’s about details – simply put if you choose to wear your pants in the slim style please tie your shoes properly to enable the pant bottom to fall softly over the shoe thus maintaining the silhouette of the pant.

3.  Softness – the difference between tight and fitted.

I’ve spoken about this before but I had two clients last week that really brought this point home. In both cases the clients were very solid guys with a lot of muscle mass and they wanted a very trim silhouette.  For the first fitting I cut both jackets relatively trim and in both cases we loosened them up a great deal to achieve a softer look and feel.  The end result was that in both cases they looked slimmer and trimmer after we let the jackets out.

The point is softness and fluidity.  When clothes are too tight they catch and don’t move naturally with they body.  This can lead to the bunching of cloth that actually adds visual weight in the wrong places.  It’s a fine line and something to keep in mind next time you’re buying or getting clothes made for yourself.

As always I’d love to hear your opinions on this or any sartorial subject for that matter.  Better yet book a free appointment and we can banter in person and see if we might be a good fit to work together.

Take care – Michael


4 Keys To Perfect Balance (in clothing not life I’m afraid)…

This post picks up from our discussion last week on the differences between bespoke and made-to-measure clothing – in particular the importance of balance as it pertains to a great fitting garment.

When we talk about balance what we’re essentially discussing is how a jacket or pant hangs on the body.  Put simply the goal for any jacket is to have the side seams aligned vertically while the bottom hem of the jacket rests perpendicular.  Achieving this seemingly basic goal can sometimes be easier said than done based on the posture a person might have.  This is why the skill of reading the body in tailoring is so crucial; information that is then transferred into the pattern and ultimately into a perfectly tailored garment as the end result.

4 keys to perfect balance.

Is there a thing as a perfectly balanced posture?  Finding it in the real world is difficult but thankfully we have diagrams like below to show us:

Perfect Posture

On the left you see a perfect balance between the left and right sides of the body.  Key in this is that the shoulders and hips are at the same height on both sides of the body.  On the right side of the diagram we see a perfect balance between the front and the back.  Notice how we generally carry more of our body mass to the front side of the vertical plane; this is of course offset by the upper back and seat on the back side.

Unfortunately though most of our bodies simply aren’t this balanced and proportional.  More often than not we’re twisted to some degree and hold our weight in a forward or backwards angle.  The result is that we have to play with the balance of our jackets and pants to make our bodies appear straighter than they are.  To achieve this we need to address the four major balance issues.

1. Vertical Balance

When we talk about vertical balance it’s easiest to think about the two main pieces of a jacket – the front (green) and the back (red).  They start at the neck point and go down towards the hem the jacket.

perfectposture (3)

In a balanced pattern like we see above the front is typically 1″ longer than the back.  The greater length is due to the fact that it has to go over the chest before going down to the hem; whereas the back has less distance to travel over the blades in the upper back.

Where things start to go wrong for your basic balanced coat is when the posture changes.  I’ll explain what happens by using two common postures – an erect and a stoop.  As you can see in the diagram below with a stoop the head and shoulders roll forward; whereas with erect posture the head and shoulders shift back

erect and stoop

Two things happen as a result.  Firstly the neck point moves forward (stoop) or back (erect). Secondly the length required for the respective fronts and backs change.  In a stoop the back length needs to increase as it has to get over the blades.  At the same time front length needs to be shortened as it is a straighter line towards the hem at the bottom.  The exact opposite happens with an erect posture – the back length needs to shorten as it has the straighter line while the front needs to be increased as it has a longer way to go over the chest and then downwards.  (Apologies for the child-like felt lines!)

Here is a real life example of what happens to a balanced jacket when it gets put on someone with an erect posture.

Erect posture with short back

Ignore the red lines for a moment and look at how the jacket is sitting.  As the red arrow indicates the bottom of the jacket is kicking forward which is collapsing the back of the jacket on the love handles and seat area.  This also manifests itself on the frontal view as the fronts below the button stance start crossing over.

Why is this happening?  Because he is erect he needs more length on the front and less on the back.  To correct it we need to take about 3/4″ off the back and add it onto the the front of the pattern.  The result would be the red lines – the jacket would comfortably get over his chest and fall straight down on the front which would release the “kick effect” on the back thus pulling it off his seat and into proper balance.

2. Horizontal Balance

After dealing with vertical balance this should be a breeze.  We’re still talking about the relationship between the front and back but in this case it’s on the horizontal plane – see the diagram below:

horizontal balance

Again it comes back to posture – different postures alter the proportional relationship between the chest and the back.  At times it’s balanced, at other times we need to give more to the chest and take away from the back, while at other times it’s the exact opposite.  As you can see in the four diagrams there is different level of fullness on each side of the vertical line – we always need to take this into account when reading the body.

One other piece to keep in mind here – musculature.  Posture defines the proportional relationship but then the muscles add a next level as they expand and contract.  This leads to the inevitable discussion between tailor and client about how trim the cut should be.  Certain muscles need more room than others to expand – always keep that in mind!

3. Left vs Right

This is less a posture issue and more about the skeletal make up of the body.  In my experience as a tailor most of the bodies I work with are not proportional.  In most cases one shoulder will lower than the other as will one hip be higher or lower.  Add in sport/general life injuries and the fact that most of us have one side more developed (muscle wise) than the other there are a lot of little tweaks that need to occur to get a jacket or pant to sit in a balanced manner.

This is why you can play such a critical role in the made-to-measure or bespoke process. Nobody knows your body better than you.  You see yourself everyday in the mirror and with a little attention you will see these details.  With that in mind when you’re in a fitting I encourage you to mention these details – fact is as a tailor it’s sometimes hard to see all these skeletal issues when you’ve got clothes on!

4. Shoulder Angle

Last but not least is the angle of the shoulders.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before but the shoulders set the tone for how a jacket looks and feels.  Having the angle of the shoulder mirroring your body is critical to this process.  Here is what we’re talking about:

Shoulder angle

When the angle of the shoulders is off two main things happen; firstly if you’ve got square shoulders then a roll of excess fabric will occur at the base of the neck like this:

Collar-Roll-580x389 (1)

Secondly; when the shoulders are too sloped for your body then the armholes will be collapsed as you put downward pressure on them as they are located too high.  It will look like this – notice the stress marks coming from the neck towards the armhole:


In both cases the angle from the neck to the shoulder point is moved either up (square) or down (sloped).  Equally important though is that the bottom of the armhole is moved as well to maintain the shape and size.

In Closing

These four balance issues are crucial for clothing that fits perfectly and perhaps more importantly feels like it’s not there.  As I said above if you’re going to a tailor take some time to analyze your body as it will assist in the process and get you closer to a perfect fit on the first try.  By the way if your tailor scoffs at your assistance then perhaps you have the wrong tailor.

As always please let me know what you think and if you have any questions or concerns – better yet book a free appointment and we can talk some of these points through together and find out if we might be a good fit to work together.

Take care,



Things to Think About: Shoulder Expression

Soft rope close-up

Of the questions I routinely field the most frequent tend to relate to the type of suit I cut.  Potential clients want to know if my tendency is to cut slim and closer to the body or if it’s a more traditional silhouette that is slightly loose and relaxed.  Such questions are valid but are very specific to each individual client and reflects the shared design process that we embark on with the client as we produce their suit.  The result then is that the answer is both.

Which brings me to concept of shoulder expression.  For us the shoulders are the defining element of a suit as they are the platform from which the rest of the suit emerges.  There are multiple factors in the overall expression of the shoulder but in this post we’re going to focus on the three types of shoulders we typically cut at Martin Fisher Tailors.  I want to preface this by saying that the overwhelming majority of our clients choose to have very little padding in the shoulder regardless of the type of finishing they choose.  It’s also important to add that the vast majority want a very light and soft construction through the chest as opposed to more armour-like appearance.

The first – and perhaps most common – is the natural shoulder seen below.

Natural shoulder close-up

The defining feature is the shoulder line follows the natural curvature of the wearer before it falls softly over the shoulder at the sleeve.  This is a very subtle shoulder finish and allows the wearer’s body to provide the shape.

The second example is what we call our soft rope shoulder.

Soft rope close-up

The shoulder line itself is the same as the natural version however where it differs is there is a distinct upward roll of the sleeve at the seam before it softly continues downward.  This clearly delineates the end of the shoulders while visually enhancing their impact.  A secondary element is that is actually increases the size of the upper sleeve as it passes over the deltoid area thus enhancing comfort.

When viewed side by side the difference between the two is quite clear.

 Shoulder expression - soft and natural

Our third option is essentially a hybrid of the first two.  Instead of a distinct upward roll at the sleeve we design it to have the slightest of bumps which visually delineates the end of the shoulder in the most subtle way possible


A fair amount to think about  – let me know if it leads to any questions.  Also look for our next “Things to think about” post as we’ll link how shoulder expression ties into the different type of chest treatments we offer and which will serve you most effectively.