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What's the POINT of chest canvassing on jackets?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by lightsaber, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. lightsaber

    lightsaber Well-Known Member

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    The tradition of tailors inserting some sort of structure into a coat goes back as far as the 14th century, when a layer of wadding was used. The use of canvas appears to be more of a modern tailoring tradition dating back to perhaps around the late 18th century or so.

    The modern trend is towards less and less structure. This is partly because structured coats are too labour intensive. Soft tailoring has its roots in the 1920-30s and was likely intended to reduce the production time in large bespoke tailoring houses with substantial outputs. The resulting slouchy rumpled look has been increasingly championed as being "charming". Since then technology has progressed to allow the weaving of both lighter cloths and lighter canvasses.

    When I read the OP, I just though "oh no". It seemed only a matter of time that the trend towards lighter everything leads to someone saying "well, let's completely remove the canvas, because it just makes the coat heavier". It is just another step toward dismantling the tailoring tradition of cleanly structured garments - another nail in the coffin. For garments like the giacca camicia are traditionally regarded as shirtmakers' garments (the so called English tropical jacket), not tailored ones.


    Interesting stuff. I've learned a lot on this thread. So canvassing the jacket is an ancient tradition. What about the extra 'chest piece' that goes with the canvassing - when was that first done?
     
  2. Svenn

    Svenn Well-Known Member

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    The resulting slouchy rumpled look has been increasingly championed as being "charming".
    Could someone post additional pics of jackets with full, heavy structured chest pieces and those without so the ignorant of us can tell the difference? I want to know what you mean by slouchy/rumpled. thanks
     
  3. Manton

    Manton Well-Known Member

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    Could someone post additional pics of jackets with full, heavy structured chest pieces and those without so the ignorant of us can tell the difference? I want to know what you mean by slouchy/rumpled. thanks

    It's not always easy to tell.

    The fact is, while Sator knows a great deal about tailoring and has a lot of valuable information to convey, for the last year or so he has had an axe to grind, which frequently causes him to leave out relevant information, mistate facts, and make speculation based on no evidence beyond his own preferences. An example of the latter would be his claim that soft tailoring was introduced as a cheat by houses that didn't want to work hard.

    As to your specific question, soft does not necessarily equal rumpled or slouchy. One hallmark of soft tailoring is the "drape" effect of excess cloth in the chest near the armscye, but at most what one should see from that is a subtle verticle ripple on either side of the chest. The rest of the coat should hang very cleanly. Indeed, this is why it is considered harder in certain respects to make a soft coat than a structured coat. When a coat has a lot of padding and a hard canvass, it is easier to use those underlying guts to make the cloth do what you want it to do. Cloth is much more likely to appear smooth on the wearer when it is backed up and smoothed out by a stiff canvas. With little padding and a soft canvas, gravity does all the work, which means that the fit and especially the balance have to be very precise.

    Here is an example. Can you tell just by looking whether the canvas is soft or hard?

    [​IMG]
     
  4. markdjr

    markdjr Member

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    What kind of jacket is the first pic of the first post from jeffreyd on page 1. Thanks.
     
  5. Svenn

    Svenn Well-Known Member

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    It's not always easy to tell. The fact is, while Sator knows a great deal about tailoring and has a lot of valuable information to convey, for the last year or so he has had an axe to grind, which frequently causes him to leave out relevant information, mistate facts, and make speculation based on no evidence beyond his own preferences. An example of the latter would be his claim that soft tailoring was introduced as a cheat by houses that didn't want to work hard. As to your specific question, soft does not necessarily equal rumpled or slouchy. One hallmark of soft tailoring is the "drape" effect of excess cloth in the chest near the armscye, but at most what one should see from that is a subtle verticle ripple on either side of the chest. The rest of the coat should hang very cleanly. Indeed, this is why it is considered harder in certain respects to make a soft coat than a structured coat. When a coat has a lot of padding and a hard canvass, it is easier to use those underlying guts to make the cloth do what you want it to do. Cloth is much more likely to appear smooth on the wearer when it is backed up and smoothed out by a stiff canvas. With little padding and a soft canvas, gravity does all the work, which means that the fit and especially the balance have to be very precise. Here is an example. Can you tell just by looking whether the canvas is soft or hard?
    thanks Manton. I'm not sure, but it looks fairly stiff. I have been admiring suits for a long time like the ones below, that seem to have a stiffer more pronounced chest and a clean, smooth arc where the chest and armpit area meet... is a heavy chest piece the secret ingredient to getting that effect? on AAAC forums, I hear people talking about the 'hard english military' cut like Huntsman, would they be a good example of heavy chest canvassing? [​IMG] [​IMG] I know there's a sour history behind this suit, but does it have a full chest piece?: [​IMG]
     
  6. jefferyd

    jefferyd Well-Known Member

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    What kind of jacket is the first pic of the first post from jeffreyd on page 1. Thanks.

    Not sure what you mean by "what kind of jacket". It's a soft one, if that's what you mean.

    thanks Manton. I'm not sure, but it looks fairly stiff.

    I have been admiring suits for a long time like the ones below, that seem to have a stiffer more pronounced chest and a clean, smooth arc where the chest and armpit area meet... is a heavy chest piece the secret ingredient to getting that effect? on AAAC forums, I hear people talking about the 'hard english military' cut like Huntsman, would they be a good example of heavy chest canvassing?

    ]
    I know there's a sour history behind this suit, but does it have a full chest piece?:
    [​IMG]


    A firm (not heavy) chest piece is not strictly necessary for a clean fitting chest, but in anything but the best bespoke it would be. Manton is correct that a firm chest piece can mask less-than-perfect fitting. Compare, though, his chest, which has a distinct vertical fold near the scye, with the photo you posted last- Manton's is clearly soft, and one of the few that I have seen that I like, since the cloth seems to lend itself well to this style and it was well executed (Manton- details on cloth and maker please?) It is difficult to judge the Beaman coat without seeing it on a human, but it was probably very firmly constructed.
     

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