Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Questions From Readers

Here are a some questions from two readers. Send me questions you have via the email link on the right side of the page!

From S.A. :
To recap your post on higher armholes: are they a better fit ?

In your compare/contrast picture, what are the exact flaws?

When you raise your arms, the jacket "moves" ? I notice the jacket is being pulled to the outside (tension on the top button).

Is that the main symptom? Anything else I should notice?

Houndtooth's response:

Yes, they make for a better fit.

The flaws are these: (1.) the armholes are low, creating a sort of 'web' between the arms and the jacket body when the arms are raised, (2.) those 'webs' pull the rest of the jacket upward, drowning the wearer in shoulder pads and fabric and (3.) the lapels bow outward, breaking the clean look of the jacket. As you mentioned, the buttons are also tensioned as a result. Those are the main symptoms of armholes that are not only too low but also shaped badly.

Below are photos a few examples of good and bad armholes. I use politicians because they are usually wealthy and should have no excuse for bad suits but are some of the worst committers of the crime of low armholes.

A good armhole worn by Truman:

click photos to enlarge
Note that when Pres. Truman raised his arm his suit pretty much stayed in place. The lapels did not bow out. There is no giant 'web' between his arm and body.

On the other hand, when Bush and Obama raise their arms to wave their low-armholed suits follow suit.

click to enlarge photos

The shoulders move up, the lapels bow out and the entire jacket moves. That is why even when a modern suit is well made, fits nicely and looks good, if it does not have the correct armholes it will be uncomfortable to wear.

High and correctly shaped armholes are key to a good suit.

Another question from R.K.A. :
I used to have no problem (in the '70's) finding over-the-calf dress socks with a wide welt. In fact some of them went almost to my knees, and I enjoyed the confidence of KNOWING my bare leg would never be seen.

Now all I can find for my 6'-1" frame hit me mid calf and have a sharp band at the top of the sock that feels like a tourniquet after 5 minutes. I need a sock that is about 19" tall and my calf measures about 19" around.

I found
these but am I doomed to paying $40+ dollars for a pair of socks??

Any suggestions??

Houndstooth's response:

I see that 'Gold Toe' makes a few different models of over the calf socks at various prices that are fairly cheaper than the ones you linked to. I don't know the quality or the type of welt, but that might be something for you to look into.

Here are a few:

Unfortunately these types of socks aren't overly popular so finding quality examples at a decent price might be a bit difficult. And they'll probably be rather bland as well.

Send in those questions!


worldfamousbigb said...

Thanks for expanding on the armholes issue. To further that discussion, can one buy a new suit with proper armholes without having it made to order at a tailor's shop? Alternatively, is it at all possible to have a suit with low arm holes tailored? (I'm thinking not)

worldfamousbigb said...

I was just thinking, when you go into a store looking for a new suit or -for those with more money than I- when you go to the tailor's to have a new suit made, is there some sort of term to describe the older style of arm holes? Or are you pretty well reduced to having to explain the whole arm hole issue to get your point across?

Horatio said...

New store-bought suits: forget it. The salesmen won't know what you're talking about, and anyway, once the armholes have been cut, there's no way to shrink them. They're all big & loose--ick.

Bespoke: The tailor will (generally) do what you tell him. The better you can communicate that, the more satisfied you will be. Anything you fail to specify, the tailor will fill in, generally in their house style. If you don't ask for high arm holes, you'll probably get low-ish ones (but higher than a pre-made suit). Having said that, no bespoke tailor's first suit for a new customer will be "perfect"; it's not until the 2nd or 3rd one that tailor and customer finally figure each other out--or so I hear.

If you want low arm holes (technical term: scye, plural scyes), you can ask for them--but then you're paying big bucks for a poorly-fitting suit. Why would you do such a silly thing?

Will said...

Horatio pretty much nailed it.


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