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Keep your jacket on

15 June 2009

Takizawa Shigeru makes beautiful suits and jackets. But while the style details of his tailoring stood out to me in a recent communication (particularly his emphasis on a very slim edge to the top of a jacket’s waist pocket), it was the philosophy that was unique.

Says Shigeru: “A gentleman must not take off his jacket too easily.”

“Even if you sweat, working at your desk, sitting at a bar or having a dinner with your sweet heart.

“Not even while you are driving.

“When men wear a suit or a jacket, he must not take off his jacket too easily.

“That I think is the man’s dignity.

Though at the same time we must not forget that this theory becomes true only if the clothing is graceful and comfortable enough for his movement.”

Allowing for Mr Shigeru’s English, it is a beautifully made point. And I don’t know whether the positioning of the text (reproduced here) was deliberate, but does add some poetry to the sentiment.

It is not easy wearing a jacket all day while sitting at your desk. It is particularly difficult if your arms are constantly stretched forwards at the keyboard. Perhaps most of all, there is little incentive to wear your jacket when air conditioning makes it unnecessary for warmth.

There are several things that a man can do to make his bespoke jackets easier to sit in – without, of course, just making them bigger. A smaller, higher armhole adds flexibility, as does a relatively large sleevehead that has been edged into that armhole. (Also, if you have slightly roped shoulder, as I prefer, the sleevehead is that little bit bigger anyway.)

You can also have pleats put into the back – either one in the middle or two at the sides (an ‘action back’). These were originally designed to make it easier for a man to point a gun for long periods of time. The same function almost applies to typing. Lastly, you can have the jacket half-lined only, which makes the back more breathable for those long hours sitting against a chair. The only disadvantage to this is that the back will lose its shape more easily.

For those without access to bespoke, these things may not be available. One solution is The Logical Waistcoat Theory, which I have written about enough to bore anyone, including me. But even if you don’t have any of these solutions to hand, you know you could wear your jacket a little bit more during the day. And if you do it will flatter your figure, add purpose to your shirt and tie, and most of all give a point to buying suits in the first place.