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Custom/Bespoke Canvas silhouette Question and a point I feel may be overlooked


Distinguished Member
Mar 10, 2006
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We all strive for the best fit, etc. but is as I was wondering could you not have the perfect fit, the best materials, from the best tailors, but if the silhouette is not either what you like/nor ideal for your body, is it all for not.

When creating a custom garment does one create a canvas and silhouette to fit the body or to create the "illusion" thru padding etc. to make the wearer look better? How does a custom tailor determine this? Or does the client have to know in advance. Should a custom tailor have several silhoette's in mind based on the height, build or just one basic design (I feel this is the primary case) that is modified for each client? (Is this latter the norm, as most clients probably don't know much about what necessarily looks best on them, let alone materials, patterns, etc)

Manton's excellent response from AA:


Hard question. Or even two questions: What is done, versus, What ought to be done?

As to the first, it varies from tailor to tailor. Some are more flexible than others. Some have reputations for inflexibility that are undeserved, and vice versa. All of them learned pattern drafting somewhere, from someone, and this almost always has an effect on how they cut. Also, flexibility may not always be a virtue. A tailor may be an expert at cutting certain styles, yet perfectly willing to try others. However, he may not do as well with the "experiment" as with his specialty.

As to body type, I would say two things. First, any non-outlandish silhouette ought to be fitable to any body type by a good tailor. Silhouette and fit are two different things. Second, some silhouettes look better for certain body types and worse on others. Certainly, even a less flexible tailor will have to modify some of his usual practices in extreme cases. For instance, a tailor who prefers to use a thick shoulder pad would probably have to tone it down for a client with muscular, right-angled shoulders. However, it would probably be unrealistic to expect him to make a completely unpadded draped coat for such a client.

You ask whose responsibility it is to understand these concepts? Well, certainly tailors have more experience and should be able to steer clients in the right direction. But consider: a tailor who is very good at making one cut and has been doing it for years may not be capable or desirous of changing his cut for a client. This goes double if the client doesn't even ask. So to expect such a tailor to look at a prospective client's build and say, "Hmmm, what I've been making my whole career won't work for this chap; better start from scratch," is probably not reasonable.

So it is really encumbent on the client to get some idea of what he likes, what works for his body, and what the various taiors make and then choose accordingly. There are many tailors who can make you a perfectly fitting, perfectly balanced suit the cut of which, in the end, may not exaclty suit your tastes. Now, whose fault would that be?


Distinguished Member
Sep 28, 2004
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It seems to boil down to developing one's own style--then find a tailor who will faithfully do the work. Mr. Manton appears to be an example of someone who has successful defined his style and found tailors to produce that style for him.

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