Updated: Jan 26, 2019
Coat design is very fascinating, yet at the same time quite challenging. And this applies especially to the fitting process.
Unlike suits or trousers, there are many variables that you could add to the design - whether it would be a pleat at the back or a buckle belt around the garment. Altogether, this makes the fitting process for an overcoat much more complicated.
Welcome back to this series which I am documenting my Polo Coat Design Project from scratch to completion. Don't forget to check out Part I of the series if you haven't, as I have covered the early concepts and inspirations I had for the overcoat in that piece.
In this article, I will be sharing my experience of the fitting process with Whitcomb and Shaftesbury (whom some of you might recall it as the tailors that made me a lovely pair of ecru double pleated trousers), as well as the challenges that we came across.
There were two fittings (as of the time of writing), with the first being in a sample cloth.
Now you might be thinking this is quite unusual to the regular basted fitting you would usually get for the first fitting.
The reason being is that this would provide the wearer a way to visualize the garment without actually using the actual cloth yet.
On top of that, when you are working on an overcoat that potentially requires multiple adjustments after the prototype is being made, this would certainly be a better option.
Then, of course, this also leads to concerns like trying on a prototype coat with fabric in different weight and texture does not reflect the actual coat and so forth, but that's a conversation for another time.
Anyway, there were quite a few changes made to the try-on coat during first-fitting; and the most important aspect we fixed is on the front/ back imbalance.
As shown by the chalk markings along the shoulder line (pictured above), the cloth in the front seems to be dragged upwards due to insufficient material at the back.
This could be explained in several ways. My posture or perhaps the fact that I have relative strong shoulder blades could both contribute to this situation.
But either way, it's interesting to point out that it is less uncommon to have imbalances for overcoats than for jackets. After all, adding an extra layer on top of the jacket means that even the smallest details would be magnified.
Needless to say, this is the aspect which I am most pleased about using the sample cloth. Just imagine the amount of work would require if it had been on the actual fabric.
There were also issues regarding the proportions of the Polo coat. Perhaps the best way to describe is that it was cut rather structured but loose.
Structured, not necessarily in the conventional sense that it consists of strong shoulder paddings of an English cut, but more so in the sense that the shoulders are rather extended.
To be fair, considering the overall aesthetic of this coat (especially being a DB and featuring a buckle belt), the stronger construction is actually quite fitting.
Nonetheless, I must say I'm not particularly fond of the broad shoulders appearance in general, especially considering the fact that I intended to wear the overcoat with knitwear as well.
With that in mind, Sian and I thought it would be better to take it in about half a centimeter to make it look more natural (as shown in the picture above).
On top of that, in order to balance out the new adjustments, we also took in quite a bit of extra fabrics from the waist to the seat to exhibit a strong waist suppression (as demonstrated above).
It was carefully done, however, since the belt would fasten the coat regardless, and there should be enough room for it to do so.
My third point about the proportions of the coat is about the length.
Though we originally started off by having it to be knee-length like a regular Polo coat, we soon came to realize that this doesn't really give me the most flattering look, especially considering my body height.
So we adjusted it to be just above the knee (pictured above), making it still functional for shielding against the elements.
And finally, there were also smaller issues such as the length of the sleeves needed to be extended in order to cover the tip of my glove; but again, these are relatively minor.
Meanwhile, there were quite a few interesting turns during the second-fitting.
Perhaps among all is the drastic changes to the collar from the first fitting.
As you could see from the earlier pictures, the collar of the coat is more of a trench style. This was done initially since I specifically requested that the collar could be worn either turned upwards or laying flat.
The problem was, as I would soon come to realize after Bob (pictured above, left) pointing out, that if I want to attach an extra layer of shearling or even fur around the collar, it wouldn't be possible to raise the collar in any case, regardless how thin it would be.
To this I agree. With the alterations, I would say the design would be more similar to a Mac-style, with the angle of the lapel pointing further downwards, as demonstrated in the picture above.
But this is great. This design is rather similar to the Grenfell Snowdonia coat which I took inspiration from at the first place, and I am happy about that.
Elsewhere, Suresh and I also had a discussion about the type of belt I am going for.
He proposed that it could potentially be a better idea if it was a tie belt rather than a buckle belt. The reason being the cloth would be too thick to tie behind the back like a regular trench coat, shall I opt for the latter.
Indeed, a tie belt would actually allow more ways to wear the coat in that sense.
Nonetheless, I also wanted to approach the issue from a design perspective; that being a tie belt, in my opinion, would seem a little bit odd with the 6x2 configuration I am going for with the buttons.
On top of that, I suppose the chances that I would be tying the knot at the back would be less likely given the collar is more like a Mac-style rather than a trench style.
But I would have to wait until the coat is completed to see whether it actually works out as I envisioned.
So what do you think? Do you think a tie belt or a buckle belt would be more suitable for the Polo coat?
I look forward to hearing from you all.
Photography: First-fitting by Whitcomb and Shaftesbury, Second-fitting by Dennis Tian