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Downsides to high armholes

TimothyF

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I read and hear lots about the wonders of a high armhole in shirts and jackets. I understand that it allows for freedom of movement, the fact that the body doesn't move up when I reach high, etc.

I don't find much if anything at all about the downsides of a high armhole. THe only thing was in the Parisian Gentlemen about how a high armhole restricts downward movement, such as when bending down to tie shoelaces.

What I'm looking for is a balanced and knowledgeable analysis of armhole size: high vs medium vs low. In getting custom clothing, my #1 priority is comfort, #2 is looking good. No point in looking good if the cloth is pulling on my body and I don't feel good.

If people can share their experiences with high armhole shirts and jackets, especially comfort-wise, that'd be great. Thank you very much
 

David Reeves

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Well OTR suits usually have quite low armholes even when they don’t ie high fashion suits. You see OTR patterns are made to fit “ok” as many people as possible and people are usually ok with something fitting looser but when it’s tight it really stops people buying things. So it’s better to have a wide armhole on an off the rack suit from a business perspective rather than a close or very high one which will limit who will buy it.

Made to measure systems at least the ones I have seen are very limited in what they can do with fitting armholes and they tend to make them large, usually there is not even a measurement or provision for higher or lower.

In reality there should be no such thing as a high or low armholes rather an armhole that fits the wearer.

This “fit” of course is also subjective as the tailor (if we are talking are talking bespoke which we should be) needs to balance aesthetics with comfort and there is always a trade off here. A very high armhole may be great but do you also want a very fitted or even true fitting chest were you look like Abraham Lincoln? Nothing against Abe of course, but most people would be shocked this day and age to have a coat cut in that kind of fit.

If you are putting it down to drawbacks and gains of both well if an armhole is fitting correctly there really should be no drawbacks.

If it is fitted low it could actually restrict your movement more and aesthetically it would not look as good.
 

TimothyF

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Thank you Mr. Reeves. To be clear, I was asking about bespoke. If I understand correctly, a competent cutter, such as yourself, can make a coat that wouldn't pull or constrict no matter what position I'm in? The reason I made the post was that before making my first custom commission, I would like to what is achievable in terms of freedom of movement and comfort. The tradeoffs as the armhole gets tighter.

For instance, many OTR jackets pull on my upper arm painfully when I extend both arms fully forward. My guess is due to some combination of not enough fabric in the back and low armhole. Conversely, a slimmer fitting shirt with higher armhole restricts when I reach down with arms extended, to tie shoes for instance.

So you're saying it's possible to tailor something that wouldn't bind in any common day-to-day activity?
 

David Reeves

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Well I am not a cutter but I have and do work with some very talented ones.

I think in answer to your question there is no deffinative answer, the first answer maybe, yes, but I don’t know what level of movement you are talking about or expecting. You may also do something unusual in your work or day to day life that may be causing you the problem. A case in point was I remember Elton John insisting on lengthening his sleeves, I said well they are already quite long as you requested, eventually he explained to me that when wearing jackets at a piano he needs very long sleeves as they ride up. I lengthened the sleeves to “his” ideal, which was very long by most normal standards and when standing up but for him it’s what he needed.

I know this isn’t a deffinative answer, but it’s maybe something to think about and it is certainly worth talking to your tailor about.

Of course it goes without saying a suit is never going to be as comfortable as a sweatshirt.
 

TimothyF

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Well I am not a cutter but I have and do work with some very talented ones.

I think in answer to your question there is no deffinative answer, the first answer maybe, yes, but I don’t know what level of movement you are talking about or expecting. You may also do something unusual in your work or day to day life that may be causing you the problem. A case in point was I remember Elton John insisting on lengthening his sleeves, I said well they are already quite long as you requested, eventually he explained to me that when wearing jackets at a piano he needs very long sleeves as they ride up. I lengthened the sleeves to “his” ideal, which was very long by most normal standards and when standing up but for him it’s what he needed.

I know this isn’t a deffinative answer, but it’s maybe something to think about and it is certainly worth talking to your tailor about.

Of course it goes without saying a suit is never going to be as comfortable as a sweatshirt.
Sorry for my mistake. I was working off the idea that it's bespoke when the person taking your measurements cuts the coat. Must've misunderstood at some point.

Thank you for this indepth response. Exactly what I was looking for, which is a sense of what is achieveable in bespoke. Nothing unusual that I do, just a breathing human. I don't think I'd be too happy if a bespoke jacket pulls on me uncomfortably when I do something common. I will make sure to communicate this concern on my next appointment. But it sounds as if an ideal balance can be struck?
 

Despos

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Common SF interpretation of High Armholes as the key to comfort or movement has always struck me as a reductionistic, simplistic understanding or explanation of the armhole. The armhole is merely one element and cannot be isolated from the relationship of armhole to shoulder line, to sleeve shape, to chest circumference and ease about the blades. They are all interrelated and contribute to fit and ease and or restriction of movement when wearing a jacket.

Before any attention to the armhole depth or shape, the shoulder line or angle of the shoulder line needs to be parallel to your natural shoulder angle or slope. This is every bit as important as the armhole. Add balance for posture here too. If these are off the jacket won’t seat properly on your shoulder and the armhole position is off.

If there is inadequate amount of cloth across the chest , back or underarm this will distort the armhole shape and effects both comfort and movement. When all of these elements are correct you could say the armhole is in proper alignment to your body.

The advantage of the armhole depth now is how the sleeve cap (top curve of the top sleeve) is shaped to fit into the armhole. One other thing, as I raise the bottom of the armhole to become higher into the arm, I also make the armhole wider to give the armhole more horizontal width while reducing the vertical height. This regulates the shape of the sleeve cap. The sleeve cap shape is reduced in height and widened. Now it is the sleeve shape that contributes most to movement /comfort as it relates to the armhole depth but the armhole depth/shape is a prerequisite to shaping the sleeve. they work in tandem. If you would create a Venn diagram of circumference of chest, armhole depth and sleeve shape, they would all contribute equally to fit. They all have an effect in relationship to each other and work in unison.

There are other contributing factors but want to be as reductionist and simplistic as I can.
 
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philosophe

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Thanks, Mr. Despos. That's a really clear explanation.
 

TimothyF

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Common SF interpretation of High Armholes as the key to comfort or movement has always struck me as a reductionistic, simplistic understanding or explanation of the armhole. The armhole is merely one element and cannot be isolated from the relationship of armhole to shoulder line, to sleeve shape, to chest circumference and ease about the blades. They are all interrelated and contribute to fit and ease and or restriction of movement when wearing a jacket.

Before any attention to the armhole depth or shape, the shoulder line or angle of the shoulder line needs to be parallel to your natural shoulder angle or slope. This is every bit as important as the armhole. Add balance for posture here too. If these are off the jacket won’t seat properly on your shoulder and the armhole position is off.

If there is inadequate amount of cloth across the chest , back or underarm this will distort the armhole shape and effects both comfort and movement. When all of these elements are correct you could say the armhole is in proper alignment to your body.

The advantage of the armhole depth now is how the sleeve cap (top curve of the top sleeve) is shaped to fit into the armhole. One other thing, as I raise the bottom of the armhole to become higher into the arm, I also make the armhole wider to give the armhole more horizontal width while reducing the vertical height. This regulates the shape of the sleeve cap. The sleeve cap shape is reduced in height and widened. Now it is the sleeve shape that contributes most to movement /comfort as it relates to the armhole depth but the armhole depth/shape is a prerequisite to shaping the sleeve. they work in tandem. If you would create a Venn diagram of circumference of chest, armhole depth and sleeve shape, they would all contribute equally to fit. They all have an effect in relationship to each other and work in unison.

There are other contributing factors but want to be as reductionist and simplistic as I can.
Thank you. Your holistic approach makes total sense to me. I'm wondering if it's possible for you to go a bit into the tradeoffs you often make, in terms of types of movement, as you draft for different clients. e.g. as I alter these measures and cut these parts of the suit this way, mobility for such-and-such types of movement is enhanced, while mobility for another activity is limited.

Is this kind of balancing act part of your usual considerations, or do you believe for there is an ideal cut that allows for all (normal) mobility for (more or less) every client?
 

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