One of the most common problems in menswear today is the fit of one’s jacket, while it is true that a proper fitting jacket can make a cheap suit look good, the reverse also applies. Fit is common point of critique on menswear forums, and was recently a topic of discussion at Put This On. Luckily, sartorial diagnosis on a poor fit is often simple and clear cut, and as long as the shoulder fits, most tailors can address the majority of the fit issues plaguing men. Of course (as expected), most alteration procedures involve the removal of material - e.g. shortening sleeve length, reducing chest size, narrowing sleeve diameter etc… but there are also processes that do not involve the removal of any material, one of them is the useful (but rarely talked about) process of adjusting sleeve pitch.
What is sleeve pitch?
The pitch of a sleeve refers to the amount of offset between the side seam of a garment and the seam of a sleeve, measured at the pit.
Above: Pictorial representation of the offset seam
What does the sleeve pitch do?
By controlling the pitch of the sleeve (either forwards or backwards), a tailor can match the sleeve to the natural position of a person’s arm, in other words, the sleeve pitch controls the way that a sleeve hangs. A pitch that is set too high or too low can led to unsightly bagging and gathering near the sleevehead.
Above: A picture of a sleeve with a pitch too high. The furrow will disappear when the wearer raises his arm slightly.
Can this be fixed?
Absolutely (although the real answer is much more complicated than that).
On a fused jacket, detaching and rotating the sleeve should be a piece of cake. However, this process is more complicated when dealing with a fully canvassed suit since all the layers of the jacket are loose and not tacked together. In either case, the tailor will chalk a mark on your jacket indicating the natural position of your arm, and rehang the sleeve to line up with the chalk marking.
Above: A sleeve with a good pitch, notice the absence of furrowing
If your sleevehead exhibit dorsal or ventral puckering, the natural drape of your sleeve and the natural drape of your arm is out of alignment. Ask your tailor to adjust the sleeve pitch, s/he will rotate the sleeve for you to ensure a proper fit.