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.

Leave a Comment