John writes us to ask: Does a sport coat need to sit close to your neck at all times? I’ve noticed that I can adjust mine so that they do, but after I move around a bit, they shift around. Inevitably, the back of my jacket ends up standing away from my neck. If this is an issue, is it something that can be fixed?
What you’re referring to is colloquially known as a “collar gap.” Ideally, a suit jacket or sport coat should always hug your neck, even when you move around. In fact, that’s one of the things you should look for when trying on a jacket. Aim for something that looks like what you see in the last four photos above – more Cary Grant, Sean Connery, and Sidney Poitier; less Kanye West.
As for whether it can be fixed, we reached out to one of the best bespoke tailors we know for the answer. Chris Despos in Chicago tells us that there are many things that can cause a collar gap. It could be that your jacket’s shoulders are more sloped than your own, or that the chest is too tight. Or it could be that your posture is more stooped than the jacket allows.
“Whether these things can be fixed depends on the exact cause, the severity, and the make of the jacket,” says Chris. “If the shoulders need to be squared up, there’s only so much you can do before you cause other kinds of issues. If the back needs to be shifted, you’re limited by how much extra cloth is available at the hem. It’s hard to diagnosis these things without seeing a client in person."
So what does this mean for when you’re trying on things at the store? Of course, if the shop allows you to make returns, you can always purchase the jacket and take it to a tailor. If he or she says it can’t be fixed, you’ve lost nothing but your time and effort.
If you can’t make a return, however, then things are dicier.
"In my opinion, every man needs to know what are his fitting issues, as well as what can be done about them,” says Chris. “If a collar gap is a reoccurring issue for you, then you’ll eventually figure out what’s the best solution. If it only happens with certain brands, however, I recommend avoiding those brands and sticking with what works for you. A collar gap can be complicated, so don’t buy something on the off chance it can be fixed."
But what if the price is really, really good?
"If you buy something because it was a crazy good deal, but end up not wearing it because it doesn’t fit, then it wasn’t such a good deal."