Garment Doctor Series: Low Back “Pooling”

January 16th, 2014

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A well tailored jacket should be smooth across the back, gently following the lines and contour of the body. The slimmer the jacket, the more important the contour (since there is less room for free-falling “drape”). Personally, I prefer the back of my jackets very trim, with minimal excess fabric, so I take my tailoring very seriously.

A tricky place to fit is the curvature of the spine at the lower back, especially if your an athlete (or ex-athlete) with a large seat (since the angle from low back to high glutes is sharper).

Here’s an example of how a jacket should fit through the back (in my opinion/preference). Notice the clean lines and minimal wrinkling in the fabric here:

08 small

Now move to the picture below.

The lower back “crunching” shown here is a problem that I see often with off-the-rack suits, and sometimes made-to-measure suits.

0611

What’s Causing This?

The wrinkle crashing here is caused by the proportions and curvature of the back panels. Basically the top half of the back panel (or “back strap”) is too long in proportion to the bottom half of the back panel. This causes the bottom of the jacket to get hung up on the hips and glutes, which causes a “pooling” of fabric just above the seat.

In other words, the “scoop” of the lower back is landing too low.

Can it be fixed?

Depends. This one is sort of on a case-by-case basis, and should be avoided.

Basically to correct this you have to completely remove the back panels (which means removing the collar, both sleeves, and both side-body panels). Then, the tailor basically has to shrink-down the back panels from the top (cutting the neckhole lower, reshaping the armholes lower, etc.). Then the back panels are lengthened from the bottom to accommodate for the relative downward positioning of the other pattern pieces.

As you may know, there are quite a few variables involved with a job like this, which is why it’s handled on a case-by-case basis. There has to be enough seam allowance around the back panels to re-cut their shape (including the armholes) and there has to be enough fabric at the bottom to lengthen the hem, and resew the vents. Most importantly, your tailor really has to know what he’s doing – this is major surgery and other complications could arise.

Knowledge is power. Now go get tailored.

 

 

Yours in style,

TSBmen

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  • Jack the lad

    so back on topic – how do you separate the upper- and lower half of the back panel? is it not one single piece of fabric? most custom tailors just try to push it out, claiming that such pooling is natural. Great series of articles btw!

  • TO

    Out here spreading knowledge across the country…

  • Daniel Moretz

    Hey Dan,

    You wrote a great post a few weeks back on deeper v neck sweaters for going along with a shirt and tie. I’ve been searching high and low for a sweater like that but just haven’t had any success in finding one. Do you know of any on the market right now?

    All the best brother,
    DM

    • Joe

      I’m sure Dan has an answer, but an alternative would be a buttoned up cardigan. A basic, no collar cardigan is essentially a deep v-neck sweater with buttons.

      • TO

        Joe, a problem with that a lot of cardigans, especially ones with ribbing at the hem, don’t drape well at the waist, and end up “pooling”, whereas with a slim sweater/sweater vest this is usually not a problem (you can also tuck ‘em in). Just something to think about.

        • John B

          I kind of prefer cardigans to sweaters, but the problem you mentioned is definitely real. Most of the time I leave the two last buttons unbuttoned to avoid the issue.

    • TO

      Hi Daniel!

      I don’t mean to intrude on your question to Dan, but that same post re-invigorated my desire to find a sweater with a deep V like the ones he featured (I have been looking for an affordable one for years). Coupled with inspiration from the recent Ebay post, I decided to head over Ebay for my search.

      I ended up finding a deep V sweater vest from the GAP for like 10 bucks (which because it’s sleeveless is great for layering a full suit and tie but is also a cool option in my opinion for just a shirt and tie). In fact, I just did a little search and found a similar one here in a medium (grey):

      http://www.ebay.com/itm/GAP-Mens-Cashmere-and-Cotton-Gray-Sweater-Vest-Size-Medium-/191020922157?pt=US_CSA_MC_Sweaters&hash=item2c79bbf52d

      So in case you hadn’t checked out Ebay yet thought I’d throw it out there.

      Cheers.

      • Daniel Moretz

        Great advice guys. Just looking for something somewhat more creative (subtle non obtrusive pattern, color and sleeves). eBay is a great resource. I’ll search around on there to see if I can find something. You are exactly right about cardigans they don’t tend to drape well on me. I have a 32.5″ waist and when I look into knitwear especially cardigans and polos I tend to hit a road block. Luckily I have found an online Made to Measure store for knitwear.

        • John

          Been searching for the same thing.

          • Daniel Moretz

            It seems a though TSBmen may have just started a new trend in 2014. Maybe one of the trends on Dan’s blacklist will die and be replaced with this.

            • TO

              Thanks Daniel!

              Something you may want to look for, mostly found in vintage stores, is a cricket sweater. They usually have a deep V and are a more ‘creative’ option. Unfortunately, they (the vintage ones) are also usually really big and droopy though. But search a size down or two as well.

              Can you please share the MTM knitwear site you found?

              • Daniel Moretz

                The link below is to the MTM polo store I’ve been researching. I’m going of order one and see what they are capable of. I’m always sckeptical online MTM shops. You never know what you might be getting into. I like the variety of options they offer for collars, cuffs and fabric.

                Dan T. would be able to give you a better feel for the MTM market online then I could. The big thing is in some cases there’s no guarantee in the fit as in somewhere like MAB or Elevee where they tailor the garment if the fit isn’t precise. But the other side of the coin is that tailoring knitwear is an entire different animal and typically very expensive (depending on the tailor).

                https://www.vastrm.com/polo/index/design

                • TO

                  Thanks for that man, that’s actually really cool. I may have found a way to get my dad out of those big ass golf shirts !

  • http://undefined TimL

    First time I’ve seen you with a longer jacket. Sort of an English look.
    I like it – player.

  • Shawn

    Dan, the fit of that jacket is superb!