When it comes to bespoke suiting, there are two distinct phases: planning and production. You’re most likely familiar with the first — you’ve spent hours with your tailor deciding on fabric, pattern, style and fit — but do you have any idea how that vision becomes an actual piece of clothing?
It’s a complex process, involving meticulous fabric cutting, scrupulous sewing, and some trial and error. And while the finished product is the star of the show, the secret behind your gorgeous bespoke suit lies deeper inside, hidden in the layered guts of the jacket.
Think of this as anatomy class for the sartorialist set. It starts just like your Grade 10 Biology class – with a dissection, though in this case the simpler term “cutting” is employed instead. Underneath the top layer, your suit is composed of numerous parts:
- Body canvass: The main purpose of the body canvas is to provide shape and a timeless structure to the jacket. Light and breathable fabrics like horse or camel hair are the material of choice.
- Domette: A fine cloth that covers the hair cloth.
- Body and sleeve lining: There are many types to choose from, but the all-time favourite is pure silk. Other options include acetate microfibre, bemberg wwill and viscose satin Usually, the sleeves and body carry the same lining, but you can switch things up if you want.
- Linen: Provides added support and strength in areas like the backing of the pockets, the button area of the cuffs, and the bottom of the jacket
- Collar Melton: The fuzzy-feeling cloth under the collar, it is made of wool or a felt-like cloth, and adds structure to the colour. A bold-colour melton adds a dash of flair to your jacket when the collar is flipped up.
- Collar Canvass: This area is particularly important because comfort in the back of the neck is paramount. The collar canvas is usually made of linen
- Stay Tape: Also made of linen, it guard the shape of the front edges of the coat, avoiding twists and stretches.
- Sleeve Head Wadding: Used on the finished sleeves to give a nice rounded shape on the shoulders. They are usually made of light foam, though some tailors prefer felt-like cloth or domette.
- Shoulder Pads: Essential to achieving perfect balance and comfort, and usually made of foam.
Producing a tailored suit jacket is an elaborate process, requiring the skill and patience of a surgeon. So the next time you pick up a brand spanking new bespoke suit, thank your tailor effusively. Because underneath the veneer of that pristine jacket, there’s a living, breathing maze of material. And, as we all know, it’s what inside that counts.