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Tailored Uniforms – The Mechanics of Chef Jackets

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We can sometimes consider the parameters of what we consider tailoring to be limited purely to the world of expensive bespoke business suits and formal wear. But look into the development of the clothing of kitchen staff, both historically, we can see a great deal of significance behind the outfits design and presentation, as well as several different tailoring techniques being carried out.

The chef’s jacket is known as a ‘white’ for a reason. It has traditionally been white in colour. Though at the time, this was for the purpose of communicating the cleanliness of a restaurant’s kitchen in a time when severely unhygienic kitchens were commonplace, it has come to be a stylistic mainstay of the chef’s clothing. More of the stylistic choices of the appearance of the chef’s jacket can be explained by necessity and importantly the need to create an impression of cleanliness, even if this was a misleading one in the kitchens of 19th Century Europe where the style developed.

The Double Breasted Chef Jacket

The double breasted look of the chef jackets that we recognise today, like these Chef Jackets, comes from the desire to be able to re-button a jacket with one layer over the top of the other. This allowed for spills to be covered up by the top layer of fabric and the pristine impression was maintained. This is a look that many suit jackets today carry, although part of this is believed to have derived from the military tradition of double breasted jackets. It’s also in part because double breasted jackets offer better insulation against the wind and can fasten in closer around the body.

Fitted Chef Jackets

More modern suit jackets have a slimmer of more fitted tailoring. Interestingly this is also true of Chef’s Jackets. Especially for women working in kitchens, the fitted and slimmer fit of jacket is considered more flattering than the unisex fit. This look is achieved using tailoring techniques such as constructing the jacket from several different panels. These can be shaped more responsively to the human shape, with loose fabric being brought in at the seems. This avoids the bin bag look of larger fitting garments, when fewer individual panels lead to a lot of spare fabric and a lack of shape in the jacket.

Tailoring techniques are used to create the shape of a garment, whether its a smart piece of formal wear, or a practical piece of work wear. If shape and control of fabric are needed, a tailor won’t be far away.

Parlor Tailoring’s Lapel Guide

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One of the most notable shifts in tailoring over the last 12-18 months has been the re-emergence of the wide lapel on formal and casual jackets and blazers.

Typically in more modern times, the last 8-10 years in particular suits have become far slimmer and closer fitting, this has been mirrored in the trends in suit lapels, which have in turn become far narrower to match the suits. Similarly, they’ve become simplified with thinner notch and shawl lapels becoming more commonplace on suit jackets, formal jackets and casual blazers. The last year or so has seen an increase however, in the more traditional looking peak, and a broader overall lapel appearance. But what do these terms mean, and what have they typically been used for? Here’s your Parlor Tailoring Guide.


Peak Lapel

The peak lapel is conspicuous because of the way the lapel forms a point as it reaches up towards the collar of the blazer. This point stands out beyond the general line of the rest of the lapel and collar, and is considered a decorative flourish on traditional and dress jackets. Many formal coats also mirror this look. This style has come back into vogue in the last 12 months or so. Whilst its typically been the basis for business suits and more formal wear, the peak lapel can now be seen on a variety of jackets, with the wide lapel coming back into fashion.


Notch Lapel

The notch lapel has generally been the most popular over recent years. The gradual narrowing of suits, for slim and skinny fits, has meant that in order to maintain an elegant sense of proportion between the different features of the jacket, the lapel itself has had to narrow in line with the jacket. As such, simpler less ostentatious lapels have been favoured by designers for this narrower look. The notch lapel is tidy and slightly plainer looking than the peak variety. The collar and lapel meet at a slight indentation in the line of the lapel, which is known as the notch. This more understated style has been considered a better choice for the slender looking lapels of more recent years, and has come to dominate, featuring on everything from formal, business and casual jackets and blazers.


Shawl Lapel

The shawl lapel originates in formal jackets, particularly the Tuxedo. It is characterised by the way it is one continuous uninterrupted line of fabric from the lapel through to the collar. The way it flows around the collar and neck is where it gets its name- the shawl lapel. Whilst this is still quite commonplace on formal jackets, because of its simple and slim design, it has become common on more fashionable slim fit blazers in recent years, along with the classic Tux look.

In short, there’s plenty to think about when choosing your jacket’s lapel at a tailors such as Norton and Townsend, why not talk this through with your tailor if in doubt to make sure your opt for the right variety?