Having sat down with Len’ earlier in the week to design the bespoke sport coat made from Dugdale Bros cloth, I headed back in to see him a few days later for the first/basted fitting.
There are a range of theories about a first fitting, the main one being that the tailor (or an experienced client) will know how the finished product will turn out from this fitting alone. The theory being that once the coat is cut, if cut well, it’s then only a case of making small adjustments over the next couple of meetings to perfect the fit, but if the cut isn’t quite right, then no amount of adjustment is sufficient to result in a flawless fit. Whilst there’s merit to the theory that you can tell a lot from the first fitting, it can’t always be treated as fact. In this case, where you finish is more important than where you begin. Every tailor has a different process and with some tailors, the fit they’ve been seeking may not be fully realised until later in the process and the necessary changes have been made. On the other side of the coin, it’s not unheard of for a tailor to have the basted fitting close to perfect, only to have it all fall apart over the following fittings if the wrong adjustments are made.
I always try to remember the advice learned from Neapolitan tailor Antonio Panico, the first fitting isn’t for the client, it’s for the tailor. It’s the tailors chance to cast their eye over the garment and weigh up their initial thoughts. Your tailors main concern, at this point, will usually be on assessing the “balance”. If the coat sits nicely on the shoulders (which is where the jacket hangs from) and all appears to be in alignment through the body, that’s the most important thing. Certainly this is also the same opportunity for the client, but it’s usually best to keep your thoughts to yourself until your tailor offers their opinion, which they usually will.
There were several changes to be made at this point, most of which were based on slimming things down. The shoulders will be taken in, as they’re finishing just beyond the edge of my shoulders. You’ll also see that there is a fair bit of room left in the sleeves, so that excess will be taken away, too. The sleeve pitch will be rotated forwards, the best example of this is the image below, where you can see the creases in the upper sleeve and sleeve-head (where the sleeve joins the shoulder), this effectively means changing the angle at which the sleeve is inserted into the shoulder, so that it better follows the natural “pitch” (angle) of my arm, creating a clean, wrinkle free silhouette. Whilst the sleeve is being adjusted, the left sleeve will be shortened.
In addition to those points, Len’ will take in the upper centre back, where the extra cloth can be seen gathering in between my shoulder blades. He’ll also add some more suppression at the waist, for a closer fit.
Without thinking, I wore a roll-neck to the fitting, which didn’t help, as I’ll mostly be wearing collared shirts with this coat and it’s helpful for a tailor to fit a coat around what you usually wear, so I’ll wear a collared shirt for the second fitting.
The patch pockets have been basted on with waste cloth, to check if Len’ and I are happy with their position and size. It’s much better to do this in a simple way, now, than to go to all the effort of making real pockets which may only have to be changed or re-made anyway. The one adjustment here will be that the ticket pocket, currently sitting above the right patch pocket, will be moved down to sit partially inside the patch pocket.
The cloth feels lighter than I’d expected, so this will end up being more of a summer coat than I’d planned, but given that the weather I’m used to is mostly warm/hot, that’s a benefit, if anything.
The custom lining which was kindly made for me by Dugdale Bros had arrived by this point, which both Len’ and I really liked.
Len’s coat-maker will have those changes made over the following 72 hours, before I come back for the second fitting in the days ahead.