high vs. low armholes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by christian, Oct 26, 2004.

  1. christian

    christian Senior member

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    I read some posts where people talked about why they liked a suitt because it had a high vs. low armholes. What difference does it make?

    And, why would better shirts have higher armholes?
     
  2. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    High armholes are more comfortable, because they allow for greater freedom of movement by the arms, especially if the sleevehead is large and there is some drape in the chest and over the blades.  They also help a jacket fit better and stay in place when you move.  On a jacket with large armholes, when you move your arms, the whole jacket shifts position somewhat dramatically.  When the armhole is high, you can move your arms, the body and collar of the jacket tend to stay in place.

    With shirts, the principle is pretty much the same.
     
  3. christian

    christian Senior member

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    Manton,

    Is this something you can differentiate only by wearing the suit or shirt? Or, can you see it with the naked eye? Thanks.
     
  4. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Hard to tell with shirts. With suits, it is more visible to the eye, but wearing is the only real test.
     
  5. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    Doesn't a high armhole also give a slimmer arm cut?
     
  6. LabelKing

    LabelKing Senior member

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    High armholes give a jacket a generally slimmer look.

    I personally prefer them.
     
  7. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Not necessarily.  Tailors can cut a fairly wide arm, and then pleat the top of the sleeve into the shoulder (or sleevehead).  This is the great "trick" of Neapolitan tailoring.  Of course, on a Neapolitan coat, only the sleevehead is large; the arm tapers significantly down to the wrist.

    The point is that there is no necessary correlation between armhole and sleeve width.  However, it throws off the proportion if the coat if the sleeve is too wide for the body, so good tailors don't do that.  But they could.
     
  8. Brian SD

    Brian SD Moderator

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    (Brian SD @ 26 Oct. 2004, 4:17) Doesn't a high armhole also give a slimmer arm cut?
    Not necessarily. Tailors can cut a fairly wide arm, and then pleat the top of the sleeve into the shoulder (or sleevehead). This is the great "trick" of Neapolitan tailoring. Of course, on a Neapolitan coat, only the sleevehead is large; the arm tapers significantly down to the wrist. The point is that there is no necessary correlation between armhole and sleeve width. However, it throws off the proportion if the coat if the sleeve is too wide for the body, so good tailors don't do that. But they could.
    So, if I'm getting this right, a slim cut requires a high armhole, but a high armhole doesn't necessarily create a slim cut. Makes sense.
     
  9. Alias

    Alias Senior member

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    In this one tailoring book I own (I think I found it on Manton's Amazon wish list, so I went and ordered a copy for myself) it says that the cutting edge of the armhole should be about 1" below the center of the armpit. Sounds about right to me.

    Low armholes really suck.
     
  10. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Well, I think there's really two different things under discussion here: the cut of the actual sleeves of the jacket, and the cut of the body of the jacket.

    As a matter of sihouette, these ought to be in proportion or else the jacket will look cartoonish.

    Yet, in principle, tailors can make the sleeves as wide as they want, and the body as baggy as they want. For example, in New York in the 1950s and 60s, during the sack suit's heyday, some custom tailors offered bespoke sack suits that had very small armholes, but fairly baggy bodies.  The RTW sack suits had large armholes.

    Conversely, I suppose it would be possible to cut a jacket with very big armholes, but tight shoulders and a fitted skirt.  It would be hard to make a slim chest, however, but I suppose it could be done.

    Of course, low armholes give a coat a kind of "droopy" look which is not slimming, no matter how trim the coat may be in other respects.
     
  11. rilian

    rilian Senior member

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    Pardon my ignorance, does higher armholes inherently mean smaller armholes? Or are we talking only about position in relation to the body of the suit?
     
  12. undarted

    undarted Senior member

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    Generally yes, but armholes can be cut at various curves. Think of the letter "J" - a small armhole refers to the length of the entire arc.

    A high armhole refers more specifically to the vertical part of the J, the stem. Higher armholes generally are cut so that there is more curve to the "J" - a shorter stem.

    However, I have seen, both in rtw, and mtm, long stems and short tails. That would work if men's arms worked in primarily a flapping manner.

    But since our arms generally move back and forward in a pendulum manner, the more logical approach to armholes would be shorter stems, longer tails in the "j"

    In short, two armholes can have the exact same size (diameter), but they can be cut in a way so that one is higher (shorter stem, longer tail) than the other (longer stem, shorter tail).

    A good thing to look out for (personally) is a curve that cuts deeper into the chest. This provides more mobility and gives you a higher armhole.

    I'm no expert though, just my personal observations and experiences.
     
  13. gentleman amateur

    gentleman amateur Well-Known Member

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    We've heard of Neopolitan tailors using high arm holes. What about Savile Row?
     
  14. crpz32

    crpz32 Senior member

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  15. Sprezzatura2010

    Sprezzatura2010 Senior member

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    Another virtue to high armholes in shirts is that the sleeve seems to ride up less when you're wearing a jacket.
     

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