Two Aspects Of Figuration


suit-backI discovered an interesting aspect of figuration today, while being measured for a new suit. (Figuration being the process where a tailor adapts a suit to your particular bodily quirks – the steps beyond just making sure the shoulders are the right width.)

The tailor pointed out that I have a slight stoop forward, slightly prominent shoulder blades, a hollowed lower back (partly due to being slim) and a large seat. If you can imagine that effect down the line of my back, it produces a S-shape – exaggerated curves caused by the shoulder blades and bum, with a hollow in between.

Most other suits I have follow the line of my back, meaning that the rear of the skirt kicks out a little over my bum. To correct this and mitigate the S-shape, a little more fullness will be added in the small of my back with this suit. But a little will be taken out of the front too, so that the waist size remains the same. Effectively, the lower half of the jacket will be swung backwards a touch.

On my previous suit I had also noticed that the collar stood away slightly from the back of my neck. A fairly obvious fault. But it was also pointed out this time that, when I looked at the suit from the front, this standing away was most prominent on the right of my neck.

This, it seems, was because I leant ever-so-slightly to the right, as well as a little forward. That was noticeable both at the neck but also below my right arm, where the cloth collapses a little between the waist and scye. Rebalancing the suit a little, so it is slightly lower on that right side, should correct this.

Both of these are aspects of fit that I have never noticed before, but of course now will not be able to ignore. Like the day after I had my first bespoke shirt fitted, and realised all my shirts had a slightly short left arm.

These are the pleasures of bespoke, such as they are. Every time you improve one facet of fit, you discover another that is wrong.

I admire tailors and shirtmakers for being able to spot these little things. But I do wish they’d stagger pointing them out to me.


Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at He has too many suits.


  1. I’ve definitely found that the more you perfect your clothing, the more you will find that is wrong with it. RTW suits that once fitted me ‘fine’ I no longer find acceptable. Even MTM suits that fit me ‘really well’, I now discover have small flaws of the kind you describe. Still, I hope one day to have a tailor I’ve worked with so much as to have totally perfected my fit.

  2. What will happen if those curves accentuate?
    You might want to figure out why they are more pronounced and what to do about it.

  3. Yes, when I was measured for ASuitThatHopefullyShouldFit, I really didn’t need to be told yet again that one of my shoulders is lower than the other. At least he didn’t scream “MAN, YO’ FAT!”.