Posture and Fit - Bespoke vs MTM and RTW

Throughout the life of this blog I will no doubt mention over and over the benefits of bespoke, and why it is superior to factory made, fast fashion garments. I talk a lot about posture and fit and how they relate. Achieving a proper fit is one cornerstone of why bespoke garments are superior. In this post I would like to briefly talk about posture, and why it is so important to establishing a proper fit.

I suppose first we should have a brief look at ready to wear (RTW). The vast majority of clothing bought is quite obviously RTW. It's intended to be quick, easy and accessible. These garments are made to standard measurements, determined from large population samples. Generally speaking most people fall within these average ranges, and proportions of size can be determined from these size ranges. For men, there are less size ranges or deviations within a range than women. This is mostly due to a lack of curve and shape comparatively in the male form. Accommodating size ranges for women can be much more challenging in the RTW market because of a greater diversity in size and shape. It may be worth mentioning that size and shape are two very different things. Two bodies may indeed may measure the same size but actually vary significantly in shape. Shape, rather is the distribution of size.

RTW works wonderfully for those people who fit proportionately within standard size ranges. What RTW cannot accommodate is posture and stance. Every RTW garment is made perfectly symmetrical and balanced based these standardised measurements. Essentially they are made for the Vesuvius man or woman. If one wanted to start the debate how the fashion industry promotes unrealistic body image standards, I suppose one could argue it starts right in the pattern drafting. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people are not perfectly symmetrical or balanced. Instead most of us have a lopsided disposition. Perhaps the most common imbalance that I encounter is a drop right shoulder, where the right shoulder is lower than the left. In our modern age with almost everyone looking down at cell phones and devices, head forward, and forward thrust shoulders are also very common. Head forward posture is often accompanied by forward hips, and slight rounded back. In the case of jackets, the position of head, neck, and shoulders has huge implications on balance and fit, because the foundation of the entire garment rests upon the head neck and shoulders.

Now, I wouldn't recommend running off to the mirror to examine your own posture. The reality is that practically everyone has something out of balance. There's no need worrying about it unless its causing discomfort and pain in your life. Chances are you've lived your life happily thus far not thinking or worrying about it, so why start now? It is surprisingly rare to find someone with a perfectly proportionate and balanced body. Since almost no one has this so called ideal body shape, then what about made to measure (MTM). Can that help achieve a better fit?

The answer to that is sort of yes and mostly no. In the world of menswear MTM is mostly smoke and mirrors. This is the world of "custom" suits. Marketing strategies would give the impression of a superior garment, but in real terms the benefits one receives from the higher price tag are largely superficial. The benefits of MTM over RTW are that one gets to choose cloth, style details, and have some alterations done in factory before being delivered to store. There are of course certain situations where MTM may have real improvements over RTW. These would mostly be in the case of corpulent figures, or individuals who vary widely from standard size ranges. The harsh reality is that MTM in most cases is no different than RTW garments, except that you got to pick your cloth, and its made as a single in the factory. As far as construction techniques and what's inside the garment, they are identical. MTM cannot adjust for your posture, or balance, so you will still likely suffer from the same faults in fit as before. Moreover, the patterns used for MTM are the same they use for RTW, except perhaps they've already shortened the sleeves or nipped in the waist a bit at the factory. But hey you might might get a fancy label inside your coat that says "Tailored exclusively for 'your name'".

One reason I'm so passionate about bespoke is that what cannot be done in RTW or MTM can be done in bespoke. I will no doubt mention the importance of posture over and over gain in relation to how it affects fit. Let us use my posture and stance as an example to understand how this all works a little better. I have a forward carriage of the head, slightly rounded back, forward thrust shoulders, drop right shoulder and hips forward. It may sound bad, but with all that said I don't think I look like some deformed monster. If you were to stand straight with proper posture, and then you moved your head and shoulders forward, you might find that the movement forward causes a slight round in the back which also lengthens your back and shortens your front. This forward movement of head and shoulders, in fact, causes a contraction of your chest and an expansion of your back across the blades. If I put on a RTW suit I would find the collar stands away at the back neck because my head forward position and slight round back requires extra length in the back piece for the jacket to sit properly at the base of my neck. As a result the balance of the entire jacket will be off because the back of the jacket is too short and the front too long. The opposite of this scenario is true for individuals who may stand overly erect, which elongates their front and shortens the back. I won't go any further into it at risk of boring you into never reading one my posts again. Hopefully you get the idea.

When applying these irregularities in posture and stance to a garment, it produces asymmetrical results, and puts it out of balance from the "standard position". Interestingly bespoke garments often don't have the same sort of hanger appeal as RTW garments. This is due to the lopsided nature of bespoke garments and the bodies for which they were made. The truth is most of the garments I make are indeed lopsided. They are however, lopsided to match that of the client's posture. The beauty behind it all is that when the garment is balanced with the individual, this lopsidedness is imperceptible. This is part of what makes bespoke so very personal. They are made for you and you alone.


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