I’m glad to report that after years of clothing getting tighter and more shrunken we’re finally starting to experience a shift towards a softer more relaxed silhouette. No question trimmer and slimmer is still the dominant look; however the needle is slowly moving back towards a middle ground that is frankly where we should’ve always been.
The images above are an example of the two silhouettes we’ll be discussing in this article. On the left is a good example of the very fitted, shrunken look that has been so prevalent in men’s tailoring over the last few years. Notice the shorter jacket, the lack of ease around the button stance and the very fitted midsection and thighs on the pants. On the right is the more relaxed silhouette that seems to be gaining some momentum as of late. While still trim everything is just a hair looser which adds a more relaxed and comfortable appearance to the wearer. The biggest distinction between the two looks is the relative fluidity of the clothing – very little is seen on the left whereas on the right you can almost see it flowing over his body.
A round peg in a square hole.
As much as we in the tailoring game like to think we’re above the influence of “fashion” we couldn’t be more wrong. The Thom Browne inspired shrunken-look of the last decade has completely changed men’s fashion – it was a swing so drastic that everyone seemingly got caught up in it. Undoubtedly the trim and extremely fitted look is great on few specific body types. The problem though is that it is completely wrong for a far wider range of bodies. The result was that for every guy you saw that looked good there was inevitably three guys that appeared squished into a suit that was a size too small.
Below are two examples of the look done right.
Next however are two examples of where the overly fitted look can go wrong.
On the hole the tighter aesthetic led to a very stiff and rigid appearance where the fluidity of the clothing over the body was sacrificed. The body in this situation was simply restricted by the clothes which in turn led to a more unnatural appearance. It is a look that works beautifully on tall, long, lean bodies that aren’t overly muscle bound. This is because the garment can be cut close to the body because the muscles and frame have very little expansion thus movement isn’t compromised that much.
For guys with muscles and curves though the game is completely different. When cutting clothes for these type of bodies we have to make sure there is enough ease to account for the expansion of the muscles as you sit or move your arms forward. At the height of the tightness phase the type of body one had didn’t seem to matter – clients would often desire a fit that made basic movements difficult and would want the stress marks as they viewed them as the mark of a good fit.
Introducing relaxed trim.
This shift towards the middle ground is what I refer to as relaxed trim. It isn’t a drastic shift but then subtlety is everything in men’s clothing. Adding a 1/2″ here, shifting a 1/4″ there – these subtle changes have a very real impact on how clothes will fit and feel. By making the fits a hair less tight we’re able to create a far greater fluidity in how the garment moves with the body. In conjunction with this there has also been a real shift towards softening the way garments are made – that means reducing the materials used in the making of the garment to make it lighter and more comfortable.
Add all this up and we’re seeing a fit that walks the line between comfort and trimness. Anytime we tailor a garment we look for it to be free of stress lines and pulling of any kind. The focus is on having the garment move fluidly with your body and not restrict any standard movements. The result is much more natural appearance as the body and the cloth move as one – gone is the stiffness and rigidity of the overly tight look.
More choice, more interesting.
Another important factor is an increase in choice. From my perspective things got a little boring in terms of variations of tight being the dominant style. If relaxed trim truly emerges as the new middle ground then we’ll be able to venture either way and still remain on-point. Slender guys can still ask for a very trim look while bigger guys can add a bit more fullness to balance out their overall size. The big winners though will be those in the middle with their body type – the ability to go trimmer or fuller provides a wealth of different silhouettes at their disposal.
At the end of the day it’s a win-win. Visually things become more interesting with a wider range of different silhouettes being deemed “in-fashion”. Furthermore it encompasses a wider range of fits that better serve the myriad of body types that exist. It allows everyone to get back to dressing based on their bodies attributes which is the number one factor we should all have in mind. Dressing for fashion despite your body hopefully becomes a thing of the past.
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