Author Topic: Fitting Advice from Chris Despos  (Read 3162 times)

Henry Hall

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Fitting Advice from Chris Despos
« on: March 11, 2016, 07:35:09 AM »
This is a gold nugget of fitting advice from Dallas Tailor Chris Despos (a member here and also at the Cutter & Tailor forum) and has been active on Styleforum. He is the real deal in tailoring with an interesting story (which you can read about here).

This was first posted on the London Lounge and then posted at C&T by Schneidergott:

Some perspective from a tailors point of view. Fittings are where the rubber meets the road. With a new client it is flesh and bones created from all the preliminary discussion and analysis between client and tailor. It is the tangible transition/translation of tape measure to paper to cloth.

My main concern of a first fitting is to check balance and length. I don't try to shape the body of a jacket at this point because changes to a garment balance will change how and where I shape a jacket. I even cut the sleeves one or two sizes larger. If the jacket fronts are too short the fronts will be full and the front edge will have more overlap, the back will lie close against the body. If the fronts are too long the overlap decreases, cloth moves to the side and the side seams will seem loose. When you change front/back balance you change the perspective of the jacket length. First fitting; adjust for front/back balance, determine length, see where, how much and on which seams to shape the garment.

Now the garment is opened completely and I make the adjustments but want another basted fitting because for every action there is a reaction. I want to visually confirm the overlap of the fronts and the length. Trimming off the front edge is permanent and I won't do this until the balance is correct. Too many tailors pull the fronts to meet and it distorts the clean hang of the fronts. I want the front to hang and close naturally. Second basted fitting is to analyze the effect of the corrections and fine-tune the fit. If the balance at the first fitting is correct I would go to a forward fitting with lapels made, sides closed and the body lined. Just basted shoulders collar and sleeves.

Next we finish the jacket, but my preference is to try the jacket again before cutting buttonholes to catch anything else that can be corrected or improved.I constantly try to improve to minimize the amount of adjustments needed at the fitting. Surprises are unexpected but do occur. My father was an excellent tailor and he told me when you want to try a new pattern, cut it exactly how it is made and don't manipulate anything so you learn the attributes of the cut. So about 20 years ago I made my own "ready made" pattern, to develop a "base" to work from. I don't know hardly any tailors that have ever made up there own pattern to fit as a 40R on a mannequin. This became my base to use and adjust from for different postures. Everything improved.

Don't discount RTW cutting and pattern making, the research and development of their cutting systems is technically without comparison and tailors can learn and apply from this. I still draft a pattern for each client, I don't use this as a block pattern; just a platform/base to start from.

This is also the issue of what goes wrong in MTM. The person measuring, seldom (from my experience) knows or understands the attributes of the block pattern used for the cutting of the garment and therefore the measurements can complicate things. When you understand the balance and proportion of the pattern you let the pattern do the work with an assist from your measurements. Applying the correct silhouette and cut for the clients body type is most important to make the suit a success in MTM.

The biggest error I make is misreading the clients body type or underestimating a prominent blade or chest. This is where having a base helps. An example; client is getting measured and his shirt is so tight and he stands so erect that I think he has a very prominent chest. Well he doesn't. He has an erect posture and a tight shirt. Easy enough to correct for. Another client repeatedly refers to himself as "overweight" so I believe him and cut for a portly build. He is actually just stocky with the beginnings of a pear shaped silhouette and he can basically wear a regular cut that is proportioned to him but doesn't need the adjustments for a portly build. All correctable after the fitting but these are the things that occur. Reading every curve and angle of a clients build is an art of fitting/measuring and is a critical skill for any tailor.

Time span between fittings is as much an issue for the tailor as the client. Client ordered three trousers in March and came to pick them up in August but he was 37 lbs lighter. Reduced the waist over 2" and had to trim the legs from seat to hem. Another started a new exercise program and gained one to two inches in the chest, waist and seat. Had to let everything out.

I've made great fitting clothes with one fitting, have made multiple garments for clients with no fittings (developed a system for doing this) but prefer to fit as many times as needed to get the best result for myself and the client. What I've tried to convey and explain here is that the fitting processes used by tailors is different and unique to the tailor you use and represents the methodology of the tailor. There isn't a rule.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2016, 10:47:29 PM by Henry Hall »
‘Being perfectly well-dressed gives one a tranquillity that no religion can bestow.’ - Ralph Waldo Emerson.