One of the most important measurements we take when making a custom suit or sport coat is shoulder slope. Shoulder slope is one of a the few elements of a coat that cannot be changed after the jacket has been made and, if done incorrectly (or not at all, as many ‘custom’ clothiers will), it can completely throw off the fit and balance of a coat. This is one of the reasons why a basted fitting may be done — where the garment is put together loosely so that big pattern adjustments, like shoulder slope, can still be made.
How do you identify if the shoulder slope is done incorrectly? Well, it depends on whether you have sloped or square shoulders (relative to an arbitrary ‘normal’ coat). Sloped shoulders are the most common. As we age, the weight of responsibility and time drops our shoulder line. When you have sloped shoulders, you will see some separation of the shoulder of the coat and your own shoulder, and a few break lines on the back of the coat, generally appearing in the area where the sleeve meets the coat. On the other hand, square shoulders will present a break or gap closer to the neck of the jacket. Square shoulders can cause a myriad of other issues as well, but the result is usually a jacket thats fits, in general, poorly.
And, with sloped or square shoulders, there is the issue of unevenness. Most men have one shoulder higher or lower than the other — again, repetition over time is the standard culprit. Uneven shoulders, square or sloped, can cause their own of issues, and, if not adjusted, leads to a coat that appears visually asymmetrical. Like a car with one headlight out.
Every body is different it it’s own way and presents it’s own set of fit challenges, big and small. You want your suit to move with you — not the other way around. And if you’d like to learn more about the fit process and what to look for when identifying proper fit, our team is here to help.